School success is at the heart of the Chillicothe community, home to Glatfelter’s largest U.S. paper mill
“As go the schools, so goes the community,” says Jon Saxton, superintendent of Chillicothe City Schools, known as the Cavaliers.
Chillicothe (pronounced CHIL-e-KÄTH-ee), a small town of 22,000 in south central Ohio, is home to Glatfelter’s largest U.S. paper mill, with more than 1,200 employees.
In 2010, Saxton set about to transform the culture of Chillicothe schools. Leadership, he believes, is the catalyst. Saxton approached Glatfelter and other local businesses to support Leader in Me®, a leadership development program based on Stephen R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
“When the schools and chamber came to us, our VP jumped on it,” says Mitzi Anderson, senior human resources manager at Glatfelter. “We loved the concept, and loved the program.” Leader in Me works to integrate Covey’s principles into the curriculum, traditions, systems, and culture within schools.
It’s making an impact. Because students have opportunities to lead, they are empowered and enthusiastic to accept responsibility for their learning, attendance, attitude, and behavior.
“Across the district, discipline incidents and bullying have decreased while test scores and positive school culture are on the rise in our early-adopter schools,” notes Saxton.
To help boost the physical climate and culture at two Chillicothe elementary schools, Glatfelter again partnered with the chamber to bring in local artist, Pam Kellough, to paint Leader in Me murals and characters from Sean Covey’s book, 7 Habits of Happy Kids.
More recently, attention turned to the high school football stadium. Originally built in 1936, little had been done to improve the stadium with the exception of minor renovations to the bleachers in the 1970s.
“Athletics are such an important source of community pride,” says Saxton. “The facility was a sad, unsafe reminder of some of the challenges our first capital city had dealt with over the previous few years.”
Glatfelter joined with other private donors to help raise funds for the $1.7 million athletic facility renovation.
“The support from Glatfelter and other businesses in Chillicothe has helped us turn the corner and continue the transformation of the culture and the school district. Time after time, need after need has been met by this community. The outpouring of support, both in spirit and financial, has truly been amazing,” says Saxton.