Teaching and inspiring good character is part of educating the whole child. Character Education, "Character -- The Core of Our Lives," was introduced in the Broward County Public Schools in the fall of 2000.
The District has focused instruction on the eight character traits: responsibility, citizenship, kindness, respect, honesty, self-control, tolerance and cooperation. In addition, after the national tragedy of Sept. 11, we have increased our emphasis on patriotism. A different character trait is highlighted each month and a nationally recognized curriculum has been developed.
The teaching of character education is fundamental in preparing students for their future opportunities. We can use the concepts of our program to address such issues as bullying and discrimination, while encouraging all students to achieve and succeed.
The District's mission is "to ensure that all students receive a quality education within a safe and secure learning environment." Character education is helping us achieve our goal.
The District recognizes that families will always have the primary role in shaping the moral character of children, but schools also play a vital role in teaching and inspiring good character. I read a quote that said, "Character education is like good cooking. It's best close at home." Although I dont know the author, the words are very true.
All of us in this diverse community need to define, model and teach good character. Our children learn from our example. That shared responsibility was evident as a committee composed of school personnel, parents, students and community members selected the traits that the group believed, if practiced, would enhance and positively influence our schools.
Response to the Character Education program has been overwhelmingly positive. Our teachers appreciate knowing that the District is behind them as they use every teachable moment in the classroom to emphasize and reinforce the importance of the eight character traits.
Character Education is not limited to the classroom. The cafeteria worker who shows kindness to the child who forgets his lunch; the school bus driver who models good citizenship for her passengers, and the administrators who demonstrate the traits every day all send powerful messages to students. We have also built the eight character traits into our Sterling Quality Improvement Process and our strategic plan.
It is important that our students know that positive behavior is not only expected, but appreciated by adults and their peers. Working in conjunction with the Sun-Sentinel, the "Kids of Character" recognition program recognizes outstanding demonstrations of good character in our students.
We are proud of our Character Education program and believe that with the continued support of the community, our students will develop the skills they need to make wise choices and decisions in an ever-changing world.
By focusing on character, celebrating our differences and leading by example, the world will be a better place for all of us -- especially our children.