Ask NOT ‘Why you did?’ but “What did you do?”

Middle School teachers take character education to the classroom

Three donations provide thousands of dollars to Edmond non-profit for training teachers

Shannon Toney of Cimarron Middle School shares her personal experiences with other teachers during character training, sponsored by the Character Council of Edmond. Photo by Jim Hulsey

Shannon Toney of Cimarron Middle School shares her personal experiences with other teachers during character training, sponsored by the Character Council of Edmond. Photo by Jim Hulsey

By Carol Hartzog; Published in the Edmond Sun, Sept. 28, 2004
Public entities and private individuals are funding the training of 60 school teachers from Edmond Public Schools’ four middle schools and several from Oklahoma Christian Schools.

Earlier this month, the Character Council of Edmond funded two days of training, and teachers were taught how to bring the character-based principles into the classroom this coming year.

This year, the non-profit character council received $5,000 in funds from the city’s Social Service Agency Review Board.

During the summer, the training efforts came to full-bore when Jeff Green of Greco Frame and Supply Inc., an Edmond resident, provided $5,000. His company employees put into practice each day the principles of the Character First! program, and he challenged the character council to solicit four other business people to match his gift.

Keller Williams Realty CEO “Mo” Anderson stepped up the plate, and is funding $5,000 for the character education program at Oklahoma Christian Schools.

Summit Middle School teacher Toye Mitchell was impressed with the training.

“I hope to get more to the heart of student behavior by using this. I handle discipline problems every day. I can look past the student action to the root program or character trait that needs to be developed.

“It’s all about relationships with our students and faculty. It’s all about the heart. The heart is easily wounded today,” said Mitchell.

The character council believes notable character traits in the workplace, such as dependability and attentiveness, begin at an early age. The benefits to the business world are reaped through the efforts with school-age children.

Cheyenne teacher K.C. Randolph participates with other teachers at a recent character training seminar, funding in part by two local business people. Photo by Jim Hulsey

Cheyenne teacher K.C. Randolph participates with other teachers at a recent character training seminar, funding in part by two local business people. Photo by Jim Hulsey

“Be careful in rebuking a student in public,” said trainer Gerald Coury of Character Plus. “First question of a student should be ‘What did you do?’ not, ‘Why did you do it?’ Get them to admit their mistake and appeal to their conscience.

“Is it an attitude problem or was it willful disobedience?” said Coury. “If there is a failure to return homework, then there is a responsibility issue. Were they talking in class? Then there is an attentiveness issue.”

All of these character traits are taught through the character curriculum and are first modeled by the teacher.

The council is a grassroots, non-profit organization committed to creating a citywide initiative to build Edmond into a “City of Character.” In its fifth year, the group believes that the character of a nation can only be strengthened one person at a time, one community at a time. Toward that end, each month the Character Council of Edmond recognizes a person who demonstrates the character of trait of the month.

This year’s goal has been to provide the teacher training. The teachers then will use the curriculum provided by Character First! to teach character traits to the middle school students.

“Most of Edmond’s elementary schools have various character-based programs, such as Great Expectations, but we found the middle schools were open to the character training,” said Council chairman Jim Hulsey. Central Middle School, notably, took the lead last spring by participating in training of its teachers.

This month, the funding provided not only the curriculum for the five schools, but pay for substitute teachers and the trainer. The half-day programs were held over two days at First Presbyterian Church.

“Without the gracious efforts of the Edmond City Council, our Edmond schools and the two business benefactors, this year’s goal of training Edmond’s middle school teachers could not have occurred,” said Hulsey.

The teacher training received great reviews: “Awesome, a program built on praise and based on character qualities that make an individual successful. I will praise the character trait instead of achievement.”

The council is a 501c3 not-for-profit organization incorporated by the State of Oklahoma since July 2003. It is a local Edmond agency made up entirely by volunteers from different career areas whose focus is reserved for the Edmond area alone. It does not endorse one character training curriculum or materials over another, but endeavors to assist with the funding and/or training and information that will best benefit the current needs within the community.