UHCL grad inspires leadership in young students through pilot program

October 3, 2018 | Katherine Adams

UHCL grad inspires leadership in young students through pilot program

Jordan Barber graduated from University of Houston-Clear Lake in December 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in education. Now in her fourth year as a second grade teacher at Bay Elementary in Clear Creek I.S.D., Barber has been passionate about developing positive relationships with her students and has piloted a school-wide program designed to encourage students to take leadership roles in their classroom and in their school.

Her efforts have paid off. Her students’ behavior and confidence have markedly improved. And despite the fact that she’s still fairly new to teaching, she’s already been awarded her school’s highest honor—2018 Teacher of the Year.

“It was such an honor and a positive end to a tough year,” Barber said. “Teaching at Bay has been a full-circle experience for me. It’s quite something to be a teacher in the same school where I went as a kid. I feel that teaching here is my way to give back to the community.”

She’s been giving much more to her students than what’s written in textbooks. “Life skills are so important,” she said. “I researched a program called, ‘Leader in Me,’ which is based on Stephen Covey’s book, ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Kids,’ and went with a colleague to a conference in Dallas.  Other schools already doing the ‘Leader in Me’ program attended the conference. After that, I started piloting the program at Bay.”

The program began with a teacher training on living the seven habits, and finding ways to incorporate them into their classrooms. “The first thing I did was create tons of jobs for my students,” Barber said. “We learned a new habit a week and I shared success stories with the faculty. It instills confidence in the kids, and gives them ownership over what they’re doing. If I believe they can accomplish something, they can do it. The kids are really rolling with it.”

Barber said that to help inspire her students, she displays a photo of herself in her classroom as a second grader at Bay Elementary. “They love that photo,” she said. “I tell them, I did what I had to do to become a teacher. Any inspiration I can give them, I will. A number of my students have already been flagged as at-risk for high school graduation. They need all the help I can give them.”

Since Barber also interned a Bay Elementary prior to graduating, she said she feels like she never left. “I plan to stay here,” she said. “I can’t imagine not being here. I will stay as long as they let me.”

For more information about UH-Clear Lake’s College of Education programs, visit www.uhcl.edu/education/.