District Revamps Character Ed

   Character education has become an increased focus at Seaholm, especially after the Newton Connecticut shooting.

   “When something like [the shooting] happens on a national scale we have to look at what we are doing in our own community,” Superintendent Daniel Nerad said.

   According to Nerad, the last few months have been used to construct a Safe Schools plan that includes three elements, a policy revision, visual recognition systems, and a new character education plan.

   The current character education plan as of the May 7 board meeting included plans to include character education into health class curriculum.

   “I’m very happy that character education has become a component of the safe schools plan,” Nerad said.

   Birmingham Board of Education member Lori Soifer said the character education is an essential element of the new safe schools plan.

   “Character education is a critical component to a comprehensive safe schools plan. Students and adults cannot learn if they do not feel physically and emotionally safe,” Soifer said.

   According to Soifer, Nerad asked members from the Health SALT (Subject Area Leadership Team) and the Character Education Steering Committee to identify a scope and sequence of pro-social skills and social emotional standards for our schools.

   Soifer said Nerad is also working to determine what resources will be needed for this development and that this remains an ongoing process.

   “To date, our work has focused on integrating Character Education into the culture of each of our schools through the Character Education Partnership’s Eleven Principle Framework,” Soifer said.

   Senior Sarah Levett said she feels the district needs to institute community-building in order to achieve their character education goals.

   “I think it’s not so much character education that’s needed so much as a kind of community building,” Levett said.

   According to Levett, activities such as class trips could start to foster a greater sense of community between students and teachers in Seaholm by allowing them opportunities to talk and interact outside of the classroom.

   “Challenge day was the only character education I remember and it was a good experience,” Levett said.

   Soifer has a similar approach to what Levett is suggesting, but believes that character education should be a part of everything that happens in school.

   “Our focus has been to improve school culture by integrating character education into everything we do,” Soifer said.

   Junior Despina Tsitlakidou said character education is most relevant in the connection students build with teachers.

   “Teachers are able to understand students as individuals and have the best chance to communicate with them at a personal level,” Tsitlakidou said.

   Soifer said that the ultimate goal of the character education program is in the interest of the students.

   “We want our students to learn well and to develop well as capable and ethical leaders,” Soifer said.

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