By Jeff McMurdy, National Director of CHARACTER COUNTS!
When I review the year that is about to end, I could measure it in many ways but the metric that matters most to me is how did we grow the mission? It’s not an easy metric to calculate. You can use raw data like number of members, trainings held, products sold, school visits and presentations and when added together, you would get a reasonable snapshot of what kind of year it was for CHARACTER COUNTS! But, it would be missing the intangibles that you can’t put a number on. The smile on a child’s face when the Rancho Bernardo HS Bronco Ambassadors (see photo at left) are conducting a CC! presentation for elementary school kids in Poway, CA. The unselfishness of CC! supporters giving their time to help promote our program at a charter school conference in South Carolina (see photo at right) or my personal favorite — the look of pride on a soldier’s face when elementary school students and a community honors them on “Citizenship Day” during CHARACTER COUNTS! Week (see photo below, at left, and read the nice letter they sent me).
I talk and/or meet with students, teachers, parents, school and district leaders daily and my goal with every conversation, meeting or presentation is to ensure we have done all we can do to help a school, after-school program or other youth-serving organization create better adults. For the mission of our program is simple and clear…Help anyone who works with youth make those youth better adults!
Teachers from York Preparatory Academy in Rock Hill, SC, discuss impact of CC! at YPA while handling our exhibit at the SC Charter Schools Conference.So, as I reflect on 2014 and how well we met our mission and goals, I think not about numbers but people. I think about all the kids and the adults who influence their lives daily and I come to work each day knowing that today “we” meaning the collective CC! Team are going to help young people all over the world be a better student, child, sibling or friend and that’s how we grow the mission of CHARACTER COUNTS!
Looking Forward to 2015
You Spoke … We Listened
In the nearly two and a half years I have served as Director of CHARACTER COUNTS!, I have witnessed many changes to the program. We’ve updated content, training materials, products and other support items to help our partners deliver our program in a meaningful and measurable way. In 2015, we take another step in the ongoing evolution of the delivery of our program by offering a “two-day” Character Development Seminar for those new to the program or for new staff at schools already using the program. You told us that it is often difficult to have staff away for three school days for our training and in order to help ease that challenge, we are adding new ways for schools or any organization working with youth to get our training.
- Starting in February, we will introduce a new two-day CDS model in select markets across the nation that will require some pre and post course work at home prior to and after the class. You will be able to review materials online and respond to a few questions to assure your understanding of the material before the in-class activity begins. Then, after the class ends, you will have up to 30 days to complete a post-course assignment to graduate.
- Separate training days – Using the standard three-day course model, we will in select markets, offer classes on three “non-consecutive” dates. (For example, in Los Angeles you take Day 1 on Thursday 2/12, then Day 2 on Wednesday 4/15 and Day 3 on a Friday 6/26) This option will enable participants to schedule time to attend the training that best fits their schedule.
- Night/Saturday Classes – In 2015, we will launch in select markets, a night class model that will enable you to attend a series of six night classes in a three to six week period of three hours each. We also plan to offer Saturday sessions in certain markets that can be used in addition to or in place of the night classes.
- On-site workshops/training – We already offer this option to all who live in areas that is difficult to attend our normal CDS training classes and we plan to continue to offer this service and provide customized training to meet specific character and behavioral challenges.
- Open Workshops – In select markets, we will be taking some of our highly popular in-service training programs normally done in a school environment and offering these sessions to educators and anyone who works with kids in open workshops where individuals can pay a single registration fee ranging from $99 to $199 depending on the course for a full day of topic-specific training.
In addition to those training options, we recently introduced an “Early Childhood Character Education Kit” that also has training available and we are constantly reviewing other vendor products to identify the best tools and resources for our members/partners. If you have not already done so, be sure to register on our website to gain access to the latest resources, lesson plans and other support materials.
My thanks to all who supported our program in 2014 and I anxiously look forward to expanding and strengthening these relationships in 2015. Happy Holidays from our CC! family to yours!