In 2018, Houston Methodist Clear Lake Hospital announced a major community investment in partnership with the Clear Creek Education Foundation – a five-year, $500,000 pledge to fund an innovative leadership program for students in the Clear Creek Independent School District. 


It was an ambitious undertaking; the $500,000 represented the hospital’s largest-ever community donation. But five years later, that investment continues to make a difference in the lives of students across the district.


Houston Methodist Clear Lake Hospital’s grant helped fund a broad rollout of the innovative Leader in Me program – based on the best-selling book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey. Leader in Me is a national program designed to teach leadership skills, create a culture of student empowerment and eventually, drive academic results. Over the past five years, Clear Creek ISD has initiated the program at 12 campuses, reaching thousands of students each year. Three of those campuses have even achieved a rare feat – earning what the program calls “Lighthouse Certification” by demonstrating mastery of nine key elements.


The Leader in Me curriculum and focus fit perfectly with the hospital’s desire to give back to the community by bolstering educational opportunities for Bay Area students.


“In the workplace today, it’s not enough to just have technical skills,” said Dan Newman, chief executive officer of Houston Methodist Clear Lake Hospital. “What we often call ‘soft skills’ – such as setting and achieving goals, being accountable for results, working with others and understanding different perspectives – are just as important. Through this partnership, we’ve been able to help young people across our community grow and develop not just in their studies, but in the skills and confidence needed to succeed beyond the classroom.”


The hospital’s commitment is an example of how the school district and the community can work together to improve educational outcomes, said Eva De Cardenas, assistant director of marketing for Clear Creek ISD.


“When the community comes together to fund a program like the Leader in Me, it has a powerful impact,” she said. “The Leader in Me program supplements and supports our teachers’ focus on core curriculum, and that creates a perfect synergy on multiple levels. We’re extremely grateful to Houston Methodist Clear Lake Hospital for its support.”


Clear View High School in Webster is one of the district’s Leader in Me campuses. Principal Monica Speaks says that the program’s focus on goal setting, personal responsibility and teamwork delivers impressive results.


“We have students who would never speak up in class when they arrived on campus become real leaders once they participate in the program and gain confidence in their abilities,” she said. “The Leader in Me program equips and empowers students with the tools they need to be successful not only in the classroom – but also as productive citizens.”


One of those benefits is giving students the ability to pursue their dreams. Speaks is especially proud of one Clear View student, Carson Schoenstein, who turned his love of animals into a potential career. Like many first-year high school students arrived on campus three years ago shy and uncertain – but eventually gained the confidence to earn a spot in the Clear Creek ISD veterinary science program and later, an internship at a local veterinary clinic.


Shoenstein recently stood up and shared his experiences in front of a group of adults gathered at Clear View High School for a community outreach program.


“That was amazing to see,” said De Cardenas. “The Leader in Me program has helped transform him into this confident young man who now wants to not only become a veterinarian, but also own his own clinic.”


Newman said he has seen first-hand how the program helps to develop young people for life beyond the classroom.


“The Leader in Me schools give students a lot of opportunities for involvement and participation, even helping to solve issues through Principal Advisory Committees,” he said. “They learn to embrace accountability and collaborate with each other respectfully to find solutions. And sometimes, they learn they didn’t get chosen for a particular job and that they must try again. That’s real life.”


Newman said Houston Methodist Clear Lake Hospital is proud to give back to the Bay Area through its funding of the Leader in Me program.


“You can’t serve the community if you don’t know the community,” he said. “As a health care provider, it’s important that we understand what’s happening around us and that we’re involved in the community we call home. The Leader in Me program has been a fantastic way for us to contribute to a better quality of life here in partnership with Clear Creek ISD. Every employee at the hospital can take pride in our contribution.”

For more information about Houston Methodist Clear Lake Hospital, visit or call 281.333.8899 to find a doctor in your area.