The #1 suggestion from parents at the initial steering committee meeting was that the public school make discipline and character a top priority. After a series of meetings, they asked me to chair the newly formed character committee, and I’m taking the responsibility very seriously.
My first task was to find out as much information about character education as possible, and then synthesize what I’d learned into an action plan. I started with the perfect book: Character Matters by Thomas Lickona. The information in Character Matters is essential for anyone searching for guidelines for making character a priority. After reading the book, I’m way more confident about improving character education in my daughters’ school.
With any project, it’s good to start with a goal. My goal will be to transform our school into a “National School of Character”, which is an honor bestowed upon schools by Character Education Partnership, a national organization with the mission to help schools develop people of good character. They have an 11-point plan for achieving that goal, but I’ve signed myself up for a “National School of Character” workshop in Ohio to make sure that our school implements their plan successfully. I also intend to interview a neighboring school to see how they achieved such a recognition.
I stumbled upon a high quality character education organization in my research that happens to be located in my city. Winners Walk Tall is a character building program that enables parent volunteers to teach fundamental values and practical life-changing skills to students. The best part of the program is that the training and information is completely free, and that the organization empowers parents who should be the primary character influence for their children.
My plans for the character committee are tentative, but include:
- Character virtues for each month of the school year.
- A monthly parent-written newsletter that will highlight the monthly virtue and recommend activities or discussions.
- Monthly movie night, featuring family-friendly movies that correspond with monthly virtues.
- Finding two parent volunteers per grade to be our “Winners Walk Tall” representatives.
- Bringing teachers on board for character curriculum infusion.
- Writing a touchstone quote that encompasses all the virtues in one statement.
- Asking the local city council to pass a resolution promising that the community itself will be a partner in character education. (I might have a friend in local government.)
- Convincing the faculty to get on board the character train and to commit to the recommended changes.
As always, I seek advice from my readers. Anyone out there undertaken the task of developing a program for character education? I’m eager for suggestions.