By: Ashley Winterstein
The Character Counts! Program has impacted thousands of children in Queen Anne’s County since its launch in November of 2000. During the 2011-2012 school year alone, 110 character coaches visited local classrooms sharing lessons about the Six Pillars of Character – Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring, and Citizenship.
The Character Counts! Advisory Council is once again looking for volunteers willing to donate 15 minutes each week to visit a nearby classroom and discuss the importance of having good character with the students. An introductory training, as well as lesson ideas and suggestions, are provided to help coaches become a trusted and influential role model in these young lives.
There are openings available for weekly visits with students at all elementary, middle, and high schools in the county. A particular need exists at Kennard Elementary School, Kent Island Elementary School, Matapeake Elementary School, Bayside Elementary School, Sudlersville Elementary School, Matapeake Middle School, and Sudlersville Middle School.
The CommUNITY Mentoring Program is also gaining incredible momentum and last year matched 10 qualified mentors with students across the county. Individual mentors make a weekly commitment to spend at least an hour of interaction with their mentee and ultimately meet them both in and out of school. The goal is to build a dependable, supportive, and positive relationship with the mentee, while helping to guide character and life skills development. It is hoped that these valuable mentoring moments will increase the academic performance and self-esteem of the young students. With this increase in confidence, it is expected that their lifetime goals and ambitions will increase as well.
Additional mentors from a diverse community are still needed to fulfill the need in local schools for the 2012-2013 school year, as well as mentors willing to work with a small group of students at either Queen Anne’s County High School or Kent Island High School. These small groups are academically-focused. Training and ongoing support are available for all mentors through the CommUNITY Mentoring Program. Mentors need to be 18 or older and males are especially needed.
The Character Counts! program would like to be culturally responsive to the children who have volunteers in their classrooms or mentors. All community members are invited to think about and hopefully commit to becoming volunteers in the program, guiding children in building their character and empowering them to make positive choices in developing their life skills.
If you have any questions or are interested in becoming a character coach to a class of students, a mentor to an individual student, or a mentor to a small group of high school students, please contact Jacki Carter, at 410-758-6677 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Both the Character Counts! Program and the CommUNITY Mentoring Program are a part of QAC Community Partnerships for Children and Families, our local management board.