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Leading Starts with Reading

Written by Rebecca Okamoto on Feb. 23, 2014

We know great leaders are passionate learners. But did you know that by the 4th grade there is already an alarming literacy gap between boys and girls? One reason is that boys are simply less interested in reading. How many future leaders are we losing at a young age? Here's how one librarian is making reading cool for boys.

Lynne Haynes is not your typical librarian. Lynne is a chemical engineer who had a promising career as a manager at P&G. Promising maybe, but it wasn't her passion. She left P&G and a career of positional power to spend time with her kids. This led to volunteer work at her kids' school in Liberty, MO and eventually becoming the school's library paraprofessional.

You can take the engineer out of a technical environment, but she's not going to stop engineering. Lynne is a gifted analyst, and instead analyzing manufacturing data, she analyzed the kids' scores. She looked at their final grades, and drilled down into the details of state test scores so she could see where they needed additional focus.

As Lynne looked at the data, she realized that the boys' literacy fell far below the girls'. Instead of focusing on better test prep, she wanted to change their interest in reading. Elementary school boys check out significantly less books than girls', so Lynne proposed a "man cave" filled with books more to the young guys' interests. To fund it she pulled together a proposal that netted several grants, and in February 2012 "The Cave" was opened, complete with a ribbon cutting ceremony.

What can we learn from Lynne? Circumstances don't make the leaders. Leaders make the most out of circumstances. Lynne might have stepped away from a corporate career, but she didn't step away from leadership. By sparking a passion for learning, Lynne is touching future lives far beyond the boys cruising The Cave for cool books.

Our leaders start as readers. Let's lead like this librarian.

Read more about The Cave and Lynne Haynes here: Cave makes books cool - LibertyTribune.com

Learn more about helping boys fulfill their potential: Boys Adrift by Dr. Leonard Sax.

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