Teacher of the Month-Character Counts

Children go to school to learn-in schools they learn writing, reading, science, math and more. For over twenty years Character Counts has been helping teach school aged children in our community morals and ethics. To highlight everything they do for our children we are highlighting them for this month’s ‘Teacher of the Month.’ I got the chance to talk to Kelly Huber, a coach specialist for Character Counts

For those who don’t know, what is Character Counts?
Character Counts! is a nationwide initiative and has been here in QAC for over 22 years. It serves as the platform for teaching values and behaviors and the importance of having good character. We utilize community members to encourage and instill the “Six Pillars of Character” in our schools and throughout the county.

What does it take to build character in young people?
First of all, it takes someone to introduce and share with our children when they are young what character values are and how important they are in shaping who they will become. These are lessons that will last a lifetime! Some get the lessons at home but, unfortunately some will not. Parents and families, teachers and role models must teach and reinforce these positive attributes to our youth. Ideally they are taught and shown what is good character and behavior on a daily basis and can see it applied and reinforced and repeated around the home, school and in the community around them.

I understand you all promote “pillars of character,” what are the pillars?
The Character Counts! “Six Pillars of Character” are:
Trustworthiness (Be honest; Do not deceive, cheat or steal; Be reliable and do what you say you’ll do;  Have the courage to do the right thing; Build a  good reputation; and Be loyal – stand by your friends, family, country)
Respect (Treat others with Respect; and Follow the “Golden Rule” and treat others the way you want to be treated; Be tolerant of differences; Use good manners, don’t use bad language; Be considerate of the feelings of others; Don’t threaten, hit or hurt anyone; Deal peacefully with anger, insults and disagreements)
Responsibility (Do what you are supposed to do, what you say you’ll do; Persevere…Keep on trying!; Always do you best; Use self-control and self-discipline; Think before you act-consider the consequences; Be accountable for your choice)
Fairness (Play by the rules; Take turns and share; Be open-minded, listen to others; Don‘t take advantage of others; Don’t blame others carelessly
Caring (Be Kind, Be compassionate and show you care; Express gratitude; Forgive others; Help people in need)
Citizenship (Do your share to make your school and community better, Cooperate; Stay informed and involved; Be a good neighbor; Obey laws and rules; Respect authority and Protect the environment)

Do you all have any events or programs coming up?
Character Counts! Strives to always be out in the community. We attend school and community events all year long – from the Back to School Nights to Kent Island Days to the QAC Fair and up to the Peach Festival… and we’ll actually be out at Centreville Day this weekend.

One of the biggest parts of our initiative is ongoing… and it is the portion of the program that is in the school. We have developed a partnership with the schools and Character Counts! is very much a part of our schools! Banners hang in the halls, morning announcements state the Pillar of the month and  Award Assemblies rewarding students based on the “Six Pillars of Character”. The Character Counts! initiative also provides these wonderful character coaches and role models with their invaluable lessons focusing on those Pillars of Character. The fall is very busy recruiting, training and then assigning coaches to the schools. Typically,  we usually have over 100 coaches by the end of the school year. We are always looking for coaches and will continue to train those that are interested. In the spring we celebrate Character Counts! here in Queen Anne’s County. We have our big event, and celebrate and thank our Coaches at the Appreciation Dinner.

What goes into being a volunteer for character counts?
Character Counts! is a volunteer initiative. Anyone from our community that would be a good role model and is interested in working with our youth are welcome to join. The volunteers go through a short training to become Character Coaches and will then visit the schools and teach lessons about the Six Pillars. Each coach will be assigned to a school and classroom and will work with that same teacher and group of kids for the entire school year. The coaches focus on one Pillar a month and they will provide a few short character lessons or activities on that pillar each month. What a special volunteer position, the Coaches love doing what they do and those kids really enjoy their Character Counts! lessons…  and they love their character coaches too!

If you would like to learn more about Character Counts you can go to their website at:https://www.growinguppositive.org/home. If you know a local teacher who makes a difference you can nominate them at https://www.shoreupdate.com/teachers/