The Poway Unified School District actively supports CHARACTER COUNTS!and the Six Pillars of Character: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship.
All schools have teachers and staff who received training during the past five years.
The Six Pillars are the foundation for showing good character from the time a student rides a school bus, to learning in a classroom, eating lunch, and interacting with others. The Six Pillars of Character has become part of the language among students and staff, and students are encouraged and recognized for showing good character. Most schools have banners, murals, and posters displayed on their campuses. Some schools have named their halls after the pillars, such as “Caring Court” and “Responsibility Road”.
The CHARACTER COUNTS! framework is not only visible through displays, but more importantly, it is evident in how students and staff respect each other every day. Showing good character supports a positive school climate and safe, caring learning environment.
Character and Ethics Film Festival
In the fall of 2008, the concept of having students create videos that show good character developed into what is now known as the Character and Ethics Film Festival. Who better to explain to children and teens about what it means to have good character, than students themselves. The announcement of the film festival ties in with Character Counts Week, and students have four to five months to develop their concept, write the script, videotape or animate, and edit. For elementary students this usually means a class project completed outside of class time. For middle school students, it is most likely a small group project; and for high school, it is typically a project involving one to two students. The message about the importance of making good decisions exemplifies one or more of the Six Pillars of Character.
CHARACTER COUNTS! is a nationwide character education program administered by Josephson Institute and the Center for Youth Ethics. Michael Josephson, founder and president of the nonprofit Josephson Institute, has presented to government officials, business leaders, educators, and professionals in sports, and other business and military sectors. Mr. Josephson has a radio program and serves as commentator on character and ethics.
At the high schools, the Josephson Institute’s program for sportsmanship, Victory with Honor, is utilized by coaches and teammates. Students involved in sports are very mindful of the Six Pillars of Character during team practices and games. Their coaches instill its importance in everything they do. For learning in the classroom, Honor above All, addresses academic honesty. Students focus on the six traits of character as guiding pillars in their academic learning.
Parent and Community Involvement
CC! is supported, not only by Poway Unified School District, but also by the Palomar Council PTA which has a Character Counts! chairperson at every school. The PTA is invaluable in coordinating school events and supporting CHARACTER COUNTS!
Community support is an asset in carrying the message throughout our district. The forth week in October is CHARACTER COUNTS! Week, and this is recognized annually by a proclamation from the City of Poway and the PUSD School board.
The implementation of CHARACTER COUNTS! in PUSD began in 2003 with a generous donation from David Bender, a member of the community. His donation of $930,000 allowed many teachers, administrators, and staff to be part of several 3-day Character Development Seminars over a 5-year period. Mr. Bender shares “I would like to give something back to my community that I believe would make an important and lasting impact.” In response, the Superintendent, on behalf of PUSD, thanked Dave Bender for his generous donation that enabled our district to implement this character education program that benefits our students, staff, and community.
Every Citizen Honoring Others (ECHO) Grant In 2002, Poway Unified School District was awarded a four-year Federal Research Grant Fund for Improvement of Education, titled “Every Citizen Honoring Others” (ECHO). It was implemented in seven schools, K-12, and included five control schools as well. It was committed to the principle that safe schools and strong character are essential elements of educational success. Character education was fully integrated into school curriculum, climate, and culture and continues to be an integral program throughout the District.
Helpful Tips for Parents
Below are helpful tips for parents to help children learn to be trustworthy, respectful, responsible, fair, caring, and a good citizen from Parents, Kids and Character: 21 Strategies to Help Your Children Develop Character , by Dr. Helen R. LeGette:
- Be clear about your values. Tell your children where you stand on important issues. Good character is taught and caught. If we want children to internalize the virtues that we value, we need to teach them what we believe and why. In the daily living of our lives, there are countless opportunities to engage children in moral conversation.
- Refuse to cover for your children or make excuses for their inappropriate behavior. Shielding children and youth from the logical consequences of their actions fails to teach them personal responsibility. It also undermines social customs and laws by giving them the impression that they are somehow exempt from the regulations that govern others' behavior.
- Show respect for your spouse, your children, and other family members. Parents who honor each other, who share responsibilities, and resolve differences in peaceful ways communicate a powerful message of respect. Respect begets respect...and children notice.
- Don't provide your children access to alcohol or drugs. Model appropriate behavior. Nowhere is the parents' personal example more critical than in this area, and the family is the most powerful influence on whether or not a young person will become a substance abuser.