Aspiring leaders at Kipling Elementary School in Deerfield recently learned how different leadership skills helped the Chicago Cubs end its historic World Series drought from a source who experienced it firsthand.

During an assembly with Kipling students on March 6, Laura Ricketts, one of the owners of the Chicago Cubs, shared details on how her family’s leadership helped turn the Cubs franchise around, culminating with the team’s 2016 World Series championship.

Kipling Elementary School is one of many schools in the country that participate in the “Leader in Me” program, which tries to provide students with leadership and life skills. Ricketts reminded the Deerfield students that many of the skills her family has used over the years also can help them achieve success.

“This is teaching children how to be successful in life,” Ricketts said. “Learning this will help them academically, in their careers and later in life. I have a daughter in elementary school and I understand how important this is.”

Kipling Principal Ann Buch said Leader in Me tries to teach students leadership skills through seven habits — being proactive, beginning with the end in mind, putting things first, thinking win-win, seeking first to understand and then to be understood, synergizing and sharpening.

Throughout the assembly, Ricketts shared stories and challenged students to identify the seven habits. She recounted how she and her three brothers bought the Cubs in 2009 and quickly had a planning meeting.

She said they decided then that they wanted to hire some of the best minds in baseball, mentioning Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, who had worked to end the Boston Red Sox’s own World Series drought in 2004.

“We wanted to make the Chicago Cubs the best team on the field and off the field,” Ricketts said. “We wanted to win the World Series for the first time in more than 100 years. We wanted to improve our nearly 100-year-old ball park, Wrigley Field, the best ballpark in baseball, and we wanted to be good neighbors to the community.”

When talking about the 2016 World Series, Ricketts emphasized outfielder Jason Hayward’s speech to his teammates during the 10th-inning rain delay in game seven of the World Series against Cleveland. She talked about how he made a valuable contribution despite his on-the-field struggles during the season.

“There was a lot of synergy,” Ricketts told students. “That was the type of team we had. We might not have won if (Jason Hayward) was not the person he is.”

Kipling was the first school at Deerfield Public Schools District 109 to use Leader in Me, starting with the 2015-16 school year, said Becca Latham, communications director for District 109.

She said Walden Elementary School implemented it after that and board members recently approved it for all of the district’s schools during their Feb. 25 meeting.

Scott Schwartz, assistant superintendent for teaching, learning and innovation for District 109, said Ricketts did a good job of teaching students about Leader in Me by using the story of the Cubs.

“She hit on all seven habits and showed how they are utilized in real life,” he said.

Steven Sadin is a freelance reporter for Pioneer Press.

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