Citizenship is Pillar for July; Character Coaches Needed

Christine Grupenhoff

Citizenship is the Pillar of the Month for July. As we celebrate our many freedoms during this month, now is a good time to reflect on what we can do to be better citizens. Some of these come easily to mind: vote, do your fair share, obey the laws and rules, get involved in community affairs, and protect the environment. One thing that we sometimes forget is to be a good neighbor.

Our lives our very busy and it seems we are stretched to the maximum to fit it all in. Even with our obligations to family and work, it benefits us to find the extra time to do something for someone else. Some people join with others in service organizations to help the community in which they work. Others volunteer at hospitals, libraries or their churches to lend a hand to help others.

During the past year, Character Counts! was fortunate to have 116 individuals give of their time to become character coaches. These volunteers worked in the schools to teach value lessons to children in kindergarten through 6th grade. In May, we celebrated these individuals’ contributions at a Recognition Dinner that was held at the Moose Lodge in Grasonville. Dr. Carol Williamson, Superintendent of the Board of Education, and several principals, teachers and guidance counselors attended to personally thank these coaches for giving of their time during the school year. These individuals work preparing their lessons and then spend at least 15 minutes teaching their lesson each week to the same group of students from September through May. This takes time and patience and we thank everyone who participated this school year.

However, we know that there is always some who will not return to the classroom due to a variety of reasons. Even though we had many volunteers in the classrooms, there were still those classes in certain schools who did not have a character coach.

At the Recognition Dinner, Jacki Carter, Coordinator for Character Counts!, shared some letters she received from students from two six grade classes that did not have a coach. We wanted to share some of their comments with you.

“Dear CC Advisory Group,
We need a Character Counts! teacher. 30 or more kids are missing out on activities that we would like to participate in. All we ask for is a person who could come here at 12:00 to teach us about character. We had one in elementary school but we still need to learn more. That is all, thank you.”

This youth drew a building and labeled it the “CC Club.” Then he drew students outside of it. The sad faces had written above them, “We Can’t get in,” and “No One Gets in.”

Another student writes.
“Dear Character Counts Advisory Committee,
We need character counts here at SMS because it teaches us a lot of things that people our age need to know. If someone doesn’t come here and teach us we won’t get to know and have these important life lessons. If we don’t get them now then who will teach them to us later? Also if we don’t get it now then how will we learn to be fair, caring, responsible, trustworthy, respectful, and good citizens? I think it is only fair that we get to learn them while we are still young. Thank you.”

Yet another student writes,
“Dear CC Advisory Committee,
Our school needs a new character counts teacher because people have been looking long and hard to find one for us, but no one volunteered yet. We could really use a good character counts teacher, and it will help the school by teaching the students a lot about the six pillars of character. That would really help a lot.”

No one can say it better than these students. You are definitely needed-and wanted. You may not live near the northern end of the county where these students attend school, but there are other schools in need of coaches. This is an excellent way to be a good neighbor and to show your concern for your community. To find out how to volunteer, contact Jacki Carter at 410-758-6677. Materials and training are provided for all coaches. Please consider joining our team of very dedicated character coaches. We know you’ll find it a very satisfying and rewarding experience.