Editor's note: Characterplus, a character education program, is supported by the schools and more than 50 businesses, churches and individuals in Cole County. If you are interested in supporting and assisting in sustaining the Characterplus initiative, please contact: Gara Loskill-659-3488.
Lawson Elementary School was one of the 2012 Promising Practice Winners of Character Education in the Jefferson City School District.
Schools are asked to follow the 11 Principles of Character Education to build healthy school climates and develop social and emotional skills in students.
The following practice is based on Principle 3 as set forth by the Character Education Partnership: The school uses a comprehensive, intentional, and proactive approach to character development.
Lawson's promising practice was to build a school library of read aloud books that highlight the monthly character traits. About 450 books were purchased to form a character trait read aloud library that can be utilized by all of the teachers at Lawson Elementary.
The books were purchased using money received by a School Initiative Grant from the Jefferson City Public Schools Foundation. They are card cataloged in the school's library so they are accessible to all of the classroom teachers.
They are kept on a shelf in the staff collection along with some lesson ideas to enrich the discussion of each of the character traits. There is also a reflection sheet that is included for the teachers to use with the students.
The Jefferson City Public School's curriculum promotes the use of interactive read alouds as a way to introduce new skills and promote an interest in learning.
Having this collection of read aloud books that support the Characterplus program allows the staff to have quick and easy access to books that promote the character theme of the month while also promoting a love of reading. It gives the students a safe environment to share and discuss their thoughts and feelings about the character traits.
The teachers have the students discuss how the character trait is portrayed in the read aloud and how they have or could portray it in their own life. They do this through pictures and/or writings depending on the age of the student.
The Lawson students become a community in their classroom. The character read aloud books give the students a chance to talk about and practice these character traits in an environment or community where they already feel comfortable. This helps them become more secure in those social skills and more ready to try those social skills outside of their safety zone.
The students at Lawson Elementary are able to identify the character traits of the month and they are able to tell about things that they are doing that exhibit that character trait.
They are also able to identify those skills when other students are using them. This allows opportunities for positive reinforcement of traits and recognition of character building behaviors in the school and community.