JA and 4-H team up to instruct students in character building
by Paisley Boston
Oct 29, 2013 | 1680 views | 0 0 comments | 33 33 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The first-graders at Parks Elementary sum up their week of Character Counts by releasing balloons on Friday.
The first-graders at Parks Elementary sum up their week of Character Counts by releasing balloons on Friday.
The Critters of Character made a special appearance to first-graders in the Cleveland School District.

Last week was National Character Counts week and the Junior Auxiliary of Cleveland teamed up with 4-H to emphasize the importance of character building.

"It is done through the Junior Auxiliary. We do Character Counts week each year during the month of October. All schools across the nation are celebrating Character Counts this week,” said 4-H Extension Agent Laura Giaccaglia.

“The Junior Auxiliary uses a 4-H curriculum to teach Character Counts and it’s called Character Critters. It is available through Louisiana State University's Extension Program. We have been going into all of the Cleveland Schools,” she said, adding balloons were released on Friday to celebrate what they had studied.

The essential components of character building are the six pillars of character, which are trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship.

"We taught the children the six pillars by using stuffed animals that we refer to as Character Critters. We have Rory the responsible rabbit, Tommy the trust worthy turtle, Fran is the fair frog, Cindy the citizenship crab, Rusty the respectful raccoon, and Cary the caring cat," added Giaccaglia. "We went into the schools and we taught two pillars of character each day," she explained.

Character Counts is nonprofit, nonpartisan, and nonsectarian. It transcends cultural differences and it is not a curriculum, an add-on, an out-of-the box program, or a quick-fix fad.

Character Counts focuses on an educational framework for teaching universal values and a national coalition of organizations that support each other.

"I think Character Counts is very beneficial to our students. I believe it helps to reinforce some of the positive behavior that we teach our students. I think that character education is important for all students. We try to teach them to be responsible and to be respectful which are very important qualities that everyone should posses. I think that it is a great idea and I think that the students enjoy it," said Principal of Parks Elementary Mary Anderson.

The purpose of Character Counts is to improve a school's youth service program and to promote healthy character building.