From the Director’s Chair…

This is Teacher Appreciation Week, and my message is a simple one: Thank you to teachers, counselors, coaches, administrators and anyone who impacts a child’s life daily. An extra special thanks to those who do that using the Six Pillars of Character and the CHARACTER COUNTS! program.

We conservatively estimate that more than 10,000 educators and youth-service professionals impact more than 8 million kids each year using the lessons and materials based on our Six Pillars framework. You are our heroes!

In my tenure as Director, I have seen first-hand some unique and creative techniques used by teachers in schools to infuse CC! into their class.

Here are a few of my favorites:

-I sat in on a class at La Sierra Military Academy in Visalia, CA with School Administrator Anjelica Zermeño where one student was blindfolded while their classmates had to guide them through a maze of two-litre bottles and cans without touching them. What better way to illustrate “Trustworthiness”?

-Second graders at Harbor Day School in Corona Del Mar, CA led by teachers Francesca Drino and Jackie Graham recently celebrated Black History Month by identifying a black woman who made a major contribution to society and assigning one of the six pillars to best describe that woman’s impact on society. As I walked the hallways, I saw students’ drawings of these amazing women, with one of the words from the six pillars listed below their name, along with a written story as to why that woman was chosen for that pillar.

-At Saint Andrew’s Episcopal School in Saratoga, CA, seventh grade Social Studies teacher Erin Stacey uses major moments in history to infuse the character traits of the six pillars. In one class, they discussed the relationship of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson and how each of the six pillars influenced the choices they made as architects of the nation they helped create.

There are many more examples of amazing ways teachers use CHARACTER COUNTS! and then there is what we call the DNA factor, when students become the teachers for character education and the six pillars because it becomes a part of who they are. York Preparatory Academy in Rock Hill, SC, where the program is about to conclude its second year, achieves this beautifully.

Last, I want to say thank you to my High School Current Events class teacher, Dave Busch, who also was the coach of my high school basketball team. One week before the start of practice for the season, he came to me after class and said he couldn’t carry me on the team this year because the other seniors were too talented and there were only seven spots on the varsity team. At that moment, I could have chosen to quit, and to give up on my dream. Instead, I decided to go to open tryouts and went on to beat out 18 others for one of those spots.

One of my favorite teachers, Randy Doerksen, who also is Principal of Prosperity Elementary School in Hutchinson, Kansas, a great CC! school, ends all of his emails with this anonymous quote:

“You never quite know the moment in a child’s life when you’ll make a difference for a lifetime.”

During this week as we honor those who teach our children and mold their character for a life filled with challenges and choices, take a moment to thank your child’s teacher or perhaps a teacher or coach who made a difference in your life. 

Jeff McMurdy is the National Director of CHARACTER COUNTS!. He can be reached at 800-711-2670, ext. 805, or via email or Twitter.