Twenty-five Foster Grandparent volunteers in Hamilton, Bradley and McMinn counties participated in an educational campaign to share basic character traits with students in their classrooms.
The project, "BEE of Good Character," allowed the volunteers an opportunity to share the concepts of respect, responsibility, perseverance, caring, self-discipline, citizenship, honesty, courage and fairness. They modeled these traits through their interaction to communicate good values, manners and simple social graces, because good character is both taught and caught! They shared valuable lessons about responsibility, empathy, kindness and compassion.
Community partnerships were formed that made our campaign possible. Impact tools included a timeline for sharing, diary entries to document experiences, a participation and reward chart, bee sticker awards, pre and post volunteer surveys and a station coordinator survey for assessment.
Unanimously, station coordinators agreed that year-round character education would be beneficial. Ms. B, classroom instructor at Chattanooga Human Services, commented, "the children asked grandmother, 'Are you going to talk to us today about things?' They enjoyed the stories about her life when she was younger. She gave lot of examples about the character words every week. She did it every day of the week.
Ms. W, classroom teacher at Twenty-first Century Child Development Center, commented, "Ms. Maggie was very eager to share the information that she obtained in the workshop. She displayed a wealth of knowledge concerning the character traits!"
Stories about each character trait were shared to help the children understand and apply the principles; for example, 1) honesty - "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" 2) caring - "The Lion and the Mouse" 3) citizenship - "The Little Red Hen."
Overall, this project was seen as worthwhile as an ongoing project. We are in the process of developing a curriculum that may be used as a resource in day cares, special education centers, mentoring stations and head start centers.
Most importantly, sharing character traits leaves a legacy of caring and sharing and shaping of core values that strengthen our communities through intergenerational learning.