From the Director’s Chair…

What makes a town, city, county, region or state a “community of character”?

This week I spoke with teachers, principals and others who interact with young people every day. All of these educators share the belief that no matter how good your school is, no school can completely succeed in educating students and preparing them to be good adults without community support. Many feel that this critical factor separates the struggling schools from those that thrive.

CHARACTER COUNTS! is used by thousands of schools, impacting millions of students every school year. These educators use the Six Pillars of Character to provide a framework for a common language that leads to a more positive and productive school climate and culture. The results are visible daily and are well-chronicled on our website, in our blogs, testimonials, YouTube videos and social media posts. The evidence is everywhere!

But did you know that many of those schools are also part of a community-wide effort?

For instance, the collaboration of school district and city has created a total “Community of Character” in Downey, California. Citizens, public officials, educators and local business leaders created the Downey USD CHARACTER COUNTS! Coalition. City streets are named after the Six Pillars and, in order to gain access to the city recreational fields, you must agree to act in accordance with these core character traits.

We also have examples of county-wide coalitions that are working together to help schools and their communities. In Kent County, Maryland, there are more than 100 volunteers who donate their time and passion to work with schools and others in the county to teach the Six Pillars of Character, impacting several thousand children annually.

In Tulare County, California, every one of the nearly 250 schools is a CHARACTER COUNTS! school, and the surrounding communities also embrace the program. This year, even the local Class A professional baseball team is participating. When you visit Tulare County, you see hundreds of examples of why it is a “County of Character” but my two favorites are the murals done by the students/staff at every school and Pillar Square, a landmark in a popular park that has become, of all things, the area’s most popular place to get married.

There are also regional and statewide “Communities of Character.” Did you know that more than 90% of the schools in Iowa use CHARACTER COUNTS! and that many of those communities also have adopted the program? In Virginia and South Dakota, our 4-H partners work directly with schools and their communities to impact thousands of lives with CHARACTER COUNTS!.

So, what makes a town, city, county, region or state a “Community of Character”? It’s a collection of caring, passionate people who share a common goal of making their community a better place to live. We’re thrilled that so many of these great communities chose CHARACTER COUNTS! as the framework for creating their “Community of Character”!

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