Our Commitment to Character Education
Approximately twenty years ago, St. Anne’s started one of its most innovative programs. This program, Character Power, supplements St. Anne’s focus on academics, fine arts, and athletics by helping to develop moral character. It is part of the curriculum for grades 1-4 and relies on parents’ commitment and presence in their children’s classrooms. There is one virtue covered each month of the school year, excluding September. The selected virtues are respect, honesty, justice, loyalty, love, courage, hope, and service/faith. Lessons are typically on the second Tuesday of each month, with two to four parent volunteers per session. This year, St. Anne’s has had almost 200 parents participate in the program. What a delightful reflection of the commitment and character of our St. Anne’s community! The reward for parents is an uplifting experience, and the reward for children is continued guidance with life skills.
Over the past couple of years, the program has received substantial technological upgrades with the hope of streamlining and simplifying the volunteer experience. This database helps the parent teacher to devote their skills and abilities to the classroom experience in a meaningful way without the hassle of managing calendars, recreating Word documents, and sorting through photocopies. Parents sign up at any time throughout the year and receive a tailored Character Power email two weeks before their scheduled lesson. Each group coordinates via email, phone, or in person to review materials, brainstorm, and allocate responsibilities. The Character Power section in the library remains as it has been for years, with designated book options for each grade/virtue, and organized binders with reference materials. Parents gather in the classrooms at 8:00 am on the assigned date to set up, and the children arrive after assembly, between 8:15 am and 8:30 am. Each lesson has a similar sequence: (a) parent introductions, (b) definition of the virtue, (c) book reading and discussion, and (d) activity. Lessons typically conclude between 9:15 am and 9:30 am. Volunteers send a follow-up email to their classroom teacher with two attachments - a parent letter and a corresponding virtue letter from Pastor Merrie. These documents enable parents who were not able to be present in the classroom to learn about their child’s experience and to help reinforce the lessons at home.
St. Anne’s Character Power was initially based on a “Heartwood” program using children’s literature to help teach ethics and morals. Each year, this program continues to be enhanced by our terrific volunteers. Their concern and devotion brighten the hearts and minds of our children, helping them to develop character, compassion, and grit. An enormous thank you to our volunteers!
-Shannon Rapp, Parent Volunteer