Excitement exuded from everyone when a pair of role models and a prestigious trophy paid a visit to Maskwacis last week.
Two members of the Canadian Football League champion Edmonton Eskimos – kicker/punter Grant Shaw and fullback Calvin McCarty – showed up at Ermineskin Elementary on Wednesday, Jan. 19 as part of the school’s Leader in Me program and spoke to the students about how important school was for them in reaching their goals.
They also brought along what turned out to be the star of the 90-minute presentation – the Grey Cup.
Shaw and McCarty both focused their efforts on getting the students to understand just what it means to be a role model, a leader, and how they were both able to achieve the success they have had on and off the field.
“I’m a proud Edmontonian and I feel the city taught me a number of things on how to be part of the community,” Shaw explained to the students.
“To be there for my family, for my teammates, it’s all part of being a team. We are leaders and it’s just like you being leaders at your school. And you are not always going to be leading, sometimes you need to follow. It’s about learning to work together and it’s basically the same on our team.”
Shaw added that being respectful to each other and not acting like a bully is also an important part of being the best person you can be.
“That’s one way to help you become a better person. You also need to get the best grades you can, challenge yourself and others to be the best student, best classmate, best person you can be. I didn’t realize I needed to be that and put my best effort to get into university. I didn’t get in on my first try, so had to go back to get better marks. That showed me that I should’ve put in a full effort the first time. So, your top priority should be doing well in school regardless of what goal you want to achieve.”
McCarty carried on with the theme, explaining to the kids that just because they are professional football players doesn’t mean they are not using what they learned in school each and every day.
“We show up for meetings, practice and other things off the field more than most people see and we use the same skills you are learning in school right now in order to do all that we do to be successful on the football field and off,” he stated.
“So, do all the things your teachers ask you to do, because the more you learn now, the better you will be at whatever you want to do. Working hard now, you may not see that pay off right away, but it will pay off eventually. You just need to keep the tools sharp so that you can use them when you need them.”
For Ermineskin Elementary principal Debbie Michael, having the players come visit along with them bring the Grey Cup was a great bonus for the students, staff and community and quite the reward for the success of the Leader in Me program the students have had this year.
“The program, which is in its third year, has been extraordinary. It takes the students through how to build up their leadership skills, work on the stuff they are good at,” she stated about the program that focuses on following the seven habits of highly effective people which was developed by Stephen Covey and turned into a book.
The seven habits include being proactive, begin things with an end in mind, putting first things first, think win-win, seek first to understand then to be understood, teamwork and continuous improvement.
“It’s been a unique way for them to take ownership of not only their school, but of themselves, their work, anything they do. Through it, the students use a notebook to keep track of everything – setting of goals, their behaviour, their marks, their attendance,” Michael said.
“The visit, interacting with the players and the Grey Cup, plus the photos and autographs were like a bit of a reward for the students having done so well. The presentation also helped to reinforce the goals and the teachings of the program. We also thought it would be a great way to show them some role models that they can aspire to be like.”
Michael added it was a bonus to have the players convey the message about bullying, what its effects can be and that it takes place everywhere – including on a pro football club – and just how the players dealt with it.