For the last three years, the students at Farmington Middle School have been learning there is more to a good education besides knowing what’s in a text book. Students have learned it is just as important to have good character as it is a good education.
“I think character is something that is lacking in our society,” said Todd McKinney, assistant principal at the middle school. “I don’t think there is heavy interest placed on strong core values. We don’t see it today’s music, movies or sport stars.”
Helping McKinney teaching the eight pillars of character is the Character Council Committee. Made up of members from the school’s staff and faculty, they work to improve character awareness at the school and in the community.
“The Character Committee is made up of administrators, teachers, counselors and librarians from middle school,” McKinney said. “They bring awareness to the school and the community of good strong character.”
According to Scott Doty, who heads the committee at the middle school, the function of the Character Committee is to act as an oversight committee to make sure the Character Council’s initiatives are being put into place with parents, students, staff and faculty.
“Character education needs to be much more than a point of the curriculum,” Doty said. “It needs to happen everywhere in the building and we need to respond to it whether it is good or bad.”
When the committee met at the beginning of the school year, they decided on to focus on two initiatives.
“Our first initiative was to increase the awareness of Character Council in our own building,” Doty said. “If we focused on more teachable moments between teachers and student, it would make a difference.”
According to Doty, a teacher could use “character words,” which are empathy, honesty, accountability, perseverance, humility, courageous, leadership, service and respect, “then everyone would be speaking a common language.”
The second initiative the committee was focusing on was making the community aware of character education.
“Surveys show that students are not communication with their parents about character education,” Doty said. “We had to realize how to reach them. We are trying to gain access to them through on our monthly radio spots.”
Well into its third year at the middle school, the committee is beginning to review their program and taking a closer look at what works and what doesn’t.
“It may be too early to say that this is can be contributed to the Character Council, but our discipline referrals are way down,” McKinney said. “Incidents of insubordination and disrespect is down and the number of students we had to put into in school suspension or Saturday detention is also down. It really seems like the kids are getting behind this.”
As a result of the success of the program at the middle school, the district has expanded the program to the elementary schools and Lincoln Intermediate as well.
“We have character education at every level except the high school now,” McKinney said. “We have it at Lincoln and we have a committee for all the elementary schools. We are now teaching the eight pillars of character at every building in the district.”
Although the district has rolled the program out at the other schools, McKinney stated there has been adjustments made to make the program fit the needs of the students it serves.
“The program is going real well in some school and not in others,” McKinney said. “We are still working some of the kinks out. Some of the stuff for Pre-K was way too advanced for them.”
Members of the Character Committee include Carla Gibbs, Dorothy Winslow, Jake Whitener, Jared Howe, Jill Braddy, Kate Dillon, Susan McGee, Kim Kennedy, Teresa Moore, Doty and McKinney.
Craig Vaughn is a reporter with the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-756-8927 or at email@example.com