High quality character education was the focus of the First Place Character Education Conference, “A Step Forward in Character Education” at College of the Ozarks on Jan. 29.
Nine Stone and Taney county schools, two schools from Neosho, and education majors from College of the Ozarks were in attendance, according to Sue Head, Dean of Character Education at C of O.
Head sees the value of bringing all of these educational leaders to one place, “Learning more about the 11 Principles of character education, which are the parameters for the National School of Character and State School of Character designation, important.
The First PLACE! character education initiative, led by College of the Ozarks, has established similar guidelines for area schools wishing to begin their quest for a national or state recognition by establishing a Regional School of Character designation.
This team, comprised of area teachers and counselors, as well as a College of the Ozarks education department faculty member, strive to help schools with the process of implementing the 11 Principles in their school building.”
Event speakers, Sheril Morgan from Character.org, and Madison Thomlinson from Muskogee Public Schools, spoke of the importance of teaching core values in our schools.
Morgan highlighted the importance of teaching from the curriculum and supporting that with character education, saying that it is important to support students as they learn to be both smart and good.
“In teaching character education, we are building citizens. The 11 principles are a tool. They evaluate how well we are doing with character education in our schools,” said Thomlinson. “There are steps to create and sustain an effective character education process in schools, and the Regional School of Character committee is available to help schools through the steps for regional, state, and national recognition.
“The best outcome for schools who have effective character education are students who are ready to learn, higher attendance rates, lower rate of discipline incidents, and a more positive culture,” stated Head. “There are many solid schools in southwest Missouri that have effectively embedded character education in their curriculum, sports programs, on their buses, and in their activities, which has improved the culture and climate in their schools.
“Many of them are already well on their way to being considered for regional, state, and national recognition.”