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Jefferson County schools to teach character

September 02, 1998|By DAVE McMILLION, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Society still values principles like trustworthiness, respect and responsibility, but adults' actions often send mixed messages to kids, according to Jefferson County Schools Superintendent David W. Markoe.

The contradictory behavior may include using a radar detector or exhibiting "road rage" on the highway, Markoe said.

"We often know the difference between right and wrong, but do we practice it?" Markoe asked.

To make sure students understand correct behavior, the school system is implementing the Character Counts program.

The initiative uses what school officials call the "six pillars" of character - trustworthiness, fairness, caring, citizenship, respect and responsibility - and blends discussions about them into regular studies, Markoe said.

For instance, for an elementary class reading the story "The Boy Who Cried Wolf," the issue of character could be part of the lesson. A teacher might initiate a discussion among students about what happens when someone lies, school officials said.

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Board of Education member Paul Manzuk said he believes most parents in the county teach their children about the values outlined in the program. Those lessons also need to be emphasized in a school setting, he said.

"They're all good virtues, and we all hope students have those traits when they get out of school," Manzuk said.

Markoe said he got the idea for the Character Counts program after seeing a similar program in schools in Albuquerque, N.M.

The Board of Education paid about $4,000 for a Character Counts training program, which was led by two teachers and a psychologist from Frederick County Schools, Markoe said. The three school officials trained about 35 staff from the local school system, who in turn trained the rest of the school system's personnel, he said.

The program is under way in classooms, Markoe said.

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