IN THIS ISSUE
Program Development: CC! on Film
Faces of CC!: Mark Britzman
Character in the Curriculum: Preparing for Independence Day Fun
Free Resources for Teachers:
• Summer Safety Kit
• Winners Don’t Use Drugs! – Free Comic/Activity Book
Commentary by Michael Josephson: Thanks for Telling Me the Truth, Dad
ON THE SIDE
CC! in the News:
• Essays – The Ethics of Getting Them
• Essays – The Ethics of Using Them
Resource of the Month: Get Families Involved in CC! With the Family Wisdom Binder – Now 30% Off
Did You Know? A Nursery Rhyme Once Recruited Pirates
Website Poll: Should High-Profile Felons Be Made Examples Of?
2007 Conference Dates and Training Programs
"It is the mark of a true education to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."
-- Aristotle (384 B.C. – 322 B.C.)
“It made me change on the inside as well as the outside.”
CC! on Film
When video producer Stacey Margetts and her crew showed up to film the effectiveness of CHARACTER COUNTS! at three Los Angeles schools, they thought it would be just another gig.
Until they met the kids.
One little girl walked up to them and pointed to her heart. “Character is what’s in here.”
“It’s helped me with my grades, my friendships, and my everyday life,” said another.
“It gives us standards to live up to and helps you represent yourself,” voiced a third.
And then a second grader asked Margetts for her autograph.
By the end of the first day, one of her photographers took her aside and said “This is the best day of work I’ve ever had.” By the third day, the crew was rethinking their own lives.
“It made us think about some of the projects we work on,” Margetts said afterward. “We usually work with adults and celebrities on television shows who are many times less than gracious. It made us think: Maybe we should start doing things like this to help people rather than exploit them.”
A generous grant allowed Josephson Institute to commission Margetts to document how schools have implemented the CC! framework. The finished video will be distributed to schools nationwide that may want to implement the program. The local schools chosen were Rio Hondo Elementary School in Downey, Lennox Middle School in Lennox, and St. Genevieve High School in Panorama City.
“It makes you smarter. You notice how your friends are different.”
Seeing a more positive school climate is not uncommon in schools that have implemented CC!. And noticing “nicer” friends is more significant than it may appear. Studies have shown that sociability and leadership increases in adolescents when student friendships are high quality.
If kids are “nicer,” the whole school experience is better, more relaxed, and more supportive. Margetts said she witnessed this firsthand. “CC! makes it cool to be caring rather than cool to be bad.”
“It makes me think about my decisions – how they can change my life. I had a scholarship to another school, but I made a choice to stay here and represent us – to show it’s not a bad place to be.”
“It makes you feel proud to do the right thing.”
At Rio Hondo, CC! messages are everywhere – along walkway slogans, on “street” signs, across murals, around the playground.
Six Pillar mural at Rio Hondo Elementary
At Lennox, kids greet adults with such respect that the school has been complimented many times about the interactions. Principal Brian Johnson says part of that is due to the common language of the Six Pillars, which makes it easier for teachers and staff to converse with kids so it’s not always punitive. “CC! gives kids concepts of why they’re doing what they’re doing,” he said. “It makes them look inward. It’s taken us from a good campus to a great one.”
“The six pillars are the building blocks of life. It’s what will define me as a person in the future.”
Gangs used to permeate St. Genevieve High School. No longer. Fairness and respect now rule the campus. Vice Principal John Van Grinsven said CC! is not about indoctrination, though. “I’m not interested in them memorizing the pillars. I want them to live them.”
And they do. The CC! framework enables children to discern the difference between can and should. Margetts and her video crew filmed one student after another voicing the same mantra: “We make better choices at our school…Everybody’s happy here…A huge family…My friend used to be a tough guy, now he doesn’t do that any more…”
The CC! video is still in production, but a preview showed that developing character is not just about having posters on the walls; it’s about making it an intrinsic part of the community.
Photos by: Robert Willrich
“If everyone followed the six pillars, it would be a better school.”
Faces of CC!
Dr. Mark Britzman
CC! faculty member and counselor Dr. Mark Britzman led an educational group for adults for two hours every morning during Family Church camp. The theme was “taking hold of the good life.” Britzman used his experience with CC! to weave in character themes and teachable moments and to encourage participants to make at least one positive change in their lives. Little did he know he would facilitate a life-saving change in one of the participants.
“Camping in the Black Hills of South Dakota is a wonderful experience,” said Britzman. “It is a chance to slow down and be reminded about what really counts, to have deeper and more meaningful conversations without the interruptions of cell phones and e-mails, and to be surrounded by a caring community of individuals.”
After the second session one of the group approached Britzman and wanted to talk. The man we’ll call Jerry had much to say. He was close to becoming divorced, had lost his job, and had been having suicidal thoughts. He was cynical about life and felt others, including his family, were to blame for his desperate situation.
His despondency seemed to stem from a lack of motivation. Everyone he knew seemed to have betrayed him. Britzman spoke to him about responsibility. “Everyone is at least 100% responsible for 50% of every relationship,” he told him. This seemed to hit home. Jerry knew he could do better. He promised he would make a plan and try to take more responsibility for events in his life. He also gave a commitment not to harm himself.
As they left camp that week, Britzman asked Jerry to contact him to let him know how he was doing. The idyllic setting of the camp was healing in itself, but life outside camp can be tough.
There was no contact from Jerry. “I wondered whether he had managed. Finally he got in touch with me,” Britzman recalls.“Jerry has taken responsibility for his own life. He sought counseling, found a new and better job, and renewed his commitment to being a better husband and father.”
Jerry’s story illustrates the effectiveness of taking responsibility for our lives and that, together with some encouragement and an action plan, we all have the wherewithal to transform our lives.
“Character does count,” Britzman reminds us.“ Jerry’s was strengthened by one sentence that jump-started him into living a life that mattered: Everyone is at least 100% responsible for 50% of every relationship.”
"Live so that you wouldn't be ashamed to sell the family parrot to the town gossip "
-- Will Rogers, American entertainer
Summer Safety Kits
Madeline McCann, 4, was abducted from a Portuguese resort over a month ago and her parents are still seeking information on her whereabouts. It is never too early to talk to your child about abduction.
We recommend the Polly Klaas Foundation’s free child safety kit: “How to Teach Abduction Prevention Without Scaring Your Child (or Yourself).” It includes 24 pages of guidance to parents, plus two fingerprint and DNA documents to record your child’s personal information.
The Polly Klaas Foundation was set up in memory of 12-year-old Polly Klaas who was abducted from her home in Petaluma, California, in 1993. Her body was found two months later.
For information on how to obtain the kit and how you can help families of abducted children, go to the Polly Klaas website.
For more information on the Madeline McCann case, click here.
Winners Don’t Use Drugs! – Free Comic/Activity Book
The job of McGruff, the crime dog, is to make sure kids learn how to be safe. This comic/activity book is designed to help kids and parents understand the dangers of drugs.
The stories and activities are drawn from real-life kids’ experiences about why they try drugs. Emphasis is on prevention. For a free copy, visit the U.S Department of Health and Human Services website here.
"Unshared joy is an unlighted candle. "
-- Spanish proverb
Commentary by Michael Jospehson
Adapted from Michael Josephson's Gabriel Award-winning radio commentaries, airing Monday through Friday across the nation.
Thanks for Telling Me the Truth, Dad
Jenny was 14 and miserable. Her freckles and braces were bad enough but now her face was breaking out. Her dad saw her looking in the mirror and sobbing. She was in such pain. He stayed up all night writing a note he slipped under her door.
“I wish I could tell you everything is all right,” he wrote, “but I know it isn’t because you're genuinely unhappy. I wish I could tell you that looks don’t matter and that everyone will see the incredibly beautiful person inside, but at your age it does matter.
“The truth is, sometimes life stinks. In a way, adolescence is like being in a cocoon. Everything is in the process of changing including your face, body, and mind. But don’t confuse the cocoon, which is a temporary shell, with the real you – what you are and what you will be. And trust nature. Inside, good stuff is happening.
“No, I can’t tell you everything is great. But I can tell you there are lots of great things in your life and things will get better. Your braces will come off, your skin will clear up, and your body will fill out. Sooner than you think you will shed your cocoon and become a magnificent butterfly soaring in the sunshine. Then I’ll be the one with problems.
So, sweetheart, have courage, you’ll get through this. In the meantime have fun, learn, and remember: Today’s disappointments prepare you for tomorrow’s triumphs.”
In the morning, Jenny had the note in her hand and a twinkle in her eye. “Thanks for telling me the truth, Dad. I can handle it.”
This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.
Commentary transcripts and audio files are archived here.
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