A panoramic view of the finished educational mural at Ronald Harvey Elementary School in St. Albert, AB. This school mural illustrates The 7 Habits of Happy Kids – The Leader In Me program, which teaches modern leadership and life skills to students. The Leader In Me school program fosters student empowerment with the idea that every child can be a leader.
Painted around corners is Habit 1: be proactive, you're in charge. The first step is shown with a person at the start of the journey packing her backpack with items saying “initiative,” “responsibility,” and “mood.” The girl is actively taking charge of her actions while holding a book that reads “attitude.”
Illustrating habit 5: seek first to understand, then to be understood. We see in the background a girl listening to a boy as he talks. Once again moving from left to right we see the boy listening to the girl talk in the present time. It was fun to paint the same characters more than once in a mural, like animation come to life.
Habit 7: sharpen the saw: balance feels best. A boy is running in the foreground with his family and everyone is happy. In the background there is a picnic table with healthy food and bicycles, showing that this family has fun, exercises regularly , and eats healthy foods. This is the end of the path with a sun, rainbow, tropical mountains, and an ocean in the small horizon. The horizon is curved slightly to show the expanding curvature of the earth and the potential to go anywhere.
The mural shows Habit 3 in the corner: put first things first - work first, then play. A girl is looking at her watch, reading 3:45, and her schedule, that shows work tasks and then play time. A house in the background has a see through showing the girl in her room at her desk doing homework at 4:00, while outside in the front yard the same child kicks a soccer ball at 5:00. In repeating one figure in multiple activities I made the characters as distinct as possible and made sure every figure shown is absolutely necessary. This multiple person timeline works from left to right where past events are on the left and we move towards the future on the right. For the cut away walls I took the liberty of enlarging the figures so that the lessons read easily.
A wide shot of the mural, including Habit 4: think win - win. Everyone can win. Two boys are trying to get their own way in a tug-a-war, but the boy on the left has raised one hand to stop because he has an idea for a third alternative. In the background is a bank with a cut away wall showing the boy with the idea giving the teller with a bank slip saying “others.” Below the teller is a sign that reads “emotional bank accounts.” It was important to place the path to the bank and the background scene between the boys so we see it as an idea to bring them together.
Habit 6: synergize - together is better. A group of students are standing behind an incomplete puzzle at their feet and each of them has a piece of the puzzle in their hands. I wanted to show the children coming together with their pieces while figuring out on their own where the pieces might go. The puzzle is of the rainbow to show a group effort in achieving this representation of a future goal together.
The 7 Habits Tree wraps around the school office as part of the mural. Tucked into the tree is the school mascot, Harvey the owl.
Painting Habit 2: Begin with the end in mind - have a plan. The second habit has a student in front of the school planting seeds in an empty school garden which is a metaphor for fostering his plans and future. We can see his future thoughts where vision and mission have grown into a future garden with the sunny rainbow in the background. I placed this image of the goal here beside the rainy section to emphasize pushing through challenges to achieve your plans. Without a dark section of sky there would be no adversity.
The mural bends around many corners and surfaces in the school, including doorways and windows.
I discovered It's one thing to make a mural, and another to make an artwork that's used as a teaching aid!