Students at Oak Mountain Elementary School now have another visual reminder to help them learn the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People thanks to the creative talents of art students from the University of Montevallo.
Oak Mountain Elementary has been adding new artwork to emphasize the habits since they became a Leader in Me School last year. The newest artwork in the cafeteria joins previous works done by Oak Mountain High School students, art teacher Carol Popwell, and parent Vallie Pate.
The newest artwork was commissioned by Principal Debbie Horton after she and Kendall Williams with the Shelby County Schools Education Foundation attended a Leader in Me Symposium. Horton said she was so impressed with how other Leader in Me schools had transformed their buildings to reflect the seven habits – “be proactive,” begin with the end in mind,” “put things first,” “think win-win,” “seek first to understand,” “synergize” and “sharpen the saw”.
“Kendall mentioned that her brother, Michael Willett, happens to be an art professor at the Unversity of Montevallo so I reached out to him,” said Horton.
Since this project was specifically for the cafeteria, Horton asked Willett and five of his students to incorporate the seven habits into artwork related to healthy eating and lifestyles in order to create a very appealing space for the students. After reviewing the cafeteria layout, the students then spent a month over the summer designing and installing the large-scale piece that covers a 75-foot by 45-foot rectangular perimeter around the OMES cafeteria ceiling.
Art students AnnaLeah Commer Ben Kaiser, Amy George, and Britt Terrell sketched the art images onto paper. Sculpture and new media student Robby Wise took those sketches and digitized them.
Next, each image was projected onto wood, cut out with a jigsaw and hand painted. The seven habits were also painted onto separate wood pieces. After all of the components were complete, the students transported them to OMES for installation.
“The artwork they came up with really does tell the story of the Seven Habits, as it relates to nutrition and healthy lifestyles,” said Horton. “It also helps the students think about other aspects of the habits, such as using all five food groups for meal planning for the habit ‘be proactive’ or cleaning up after themselves for the next lunch group for the habit ‘think win-win’.”
Horton said the Montevallo art students used different types of foods from countries around the world for the habit ‘seek first to understand’.
“The goal was to help students understand when someone brings a different type of food to the lunch table,” Horton said. “We wanted it to help encourage positive conversations about diversity, rather than negative conversations just because someone is eating something different from them.”
Funding for the project was provided through a Fuel Up to Play 60 grant and the paint was donated by Rozar’s Paint Supply in Birmingham.