Student Character Development Programs

Resolution Number: 

2015-01
Resolution

WHEREAS it is important for schools to offer character education programs that promote social tolerance, provide empathy training and leadership development that increases personal power and self esteem, and

WHEREAS these social skills are important in the ethical development of students and are critical in the development of caring citizens, translating into positive student behaviour in school, home and community, and

WHEREAS several schools across the province have already recognized the need and benefit of such activities and have undertaken the development and run student workshops at the senior high level such as: Climate Days, Breaking Down the Walls, Challenge Day, and

WHEREAS the goal of the Character Development Program is to empower the students to carry the themes of the program back to their school and community population, and

WHEREAS one of the goals of public education on PEI as stated in the “Education Handbook for School Administrators” is to enable students to develop a respect for community values, a sense of personal values and a responsibility for one’s actions, and

WHEREAS one of the guiding principles of the PEI Home and School Federation is to foster high ideals of citizenship;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the PEI Home and School Federation requests the English Language School Board and Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development implement age-appropriate character development programs that promote social tolerance, provide empathy training and leadership development, in all schools, primary to 12 grade levels, as part of the School Effectiveness Plan.

BACKGROUND:

Three Oaks Climate Days Philosophy: Student leaders in any given school building come in many forms and from many social groups. It is virtually impossible to put 800 students through a workshop on empathy training and many do not have the maturity or mindset needed for this to be successful. However, it was determined if the leaders and sub-leaders of the various social groups in the school could be trained, then there would be the possibility of a positive “trickle down” effect to the students who follow them. In this way, we would have a better chance of affecting more students, and this is exactly what happened! All Climate Days, with the exception of Climate Night 2014, were co-facilitated by Nicole Haire and Peter Bolo. Positive student leaders were “planted” in discussion groups to model appropriate participation and keep the discussions flowing.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs states that the following “building blocks” must be in place-in order for a person to achieve self-actualization:

  • Basic Needs (food, clothing, shelter, etc)
  • Safety (physical, emotional and psychological)
  • Belonging
  • Self-Esteem (authentic success due to their own efforts)

Climate Days addresses Safety and Belonging. The time spent establishing and maintaining high expectations for a positive school climate allows students the opportunity to come to school each day and focus more fully on the school work at hand.

The Climate Days workshop was developed by Nicole Haire, in consultation with Leadership teacher Peter Bolo, in the spring of 2011. 58 students and 12 teachers participated in the first Climate Day workshop which took place off campus-in “neutral territory”-at the Loyalist Inn.

In the fall of 2011, Phil Boyte was contracted to facilitate his “Breaking Down the Walls” workshop with 300 students over three days. This workshop has a similar philosophy to Climate Days and was held at the school.

In 2012, the Climate Crew was formed by students concerned about fostering and maintaining positive school climate as well as an additional 300 students participated over three days in TOSH Climate Days held at the school.

In the spring of 2013, 100 students participated in a TOSH Climate Days workshop

In the spring of 2014, 85 students participated after school hours in a 6 hour climate workshop termed “Climate Night”.

In the fall of 2014, 100 students participated in a Climate Day workshop at the school.

The positive “ripple effects” of this workshop have been noticeable and profound. Most of the results come from observation of student behaviour; feedback from students, staff and parents about the positive “feel” of our school; participant surveys; and anecdotal sharing from individuals who say that participating in Climate Days had a significant, positive effect on their lives. Invariably, participants say that it changes how they see others and how they respond to people and situations for the better. Our school has become a gentler, kinder place as a result and bystanders have become more likely to stand up and speak for what is right.

Consideration

Status: 

Passed
Saturday, April 11, 2015

Destination: 

Department of Education and Early Childhood Development
English Language School Board
Responses Received

Responses: 

English Language School Board:   While the English Language School Board agrees with school initiatives to address and support character development, the Board is responsible for implementing provincial curriculum and programs as authorized by the Department of Educatioin, Early Learning and Culture (DEELC).  The boardd participates in and support sprogram and curriculum development initiatives of the DEELC.  The school district office consultants are required to prioritize their work-plans in conjunctioni with the board's strategiv plan.  In 2015, the Curriculum Delivery Department experienced a reductioni of 7 positions and is currently challenged to fulfill its work obligations as required.  Therefore, initiatives such as a student character devleopment program would be additionial programming offered through school climate days, for example, and would remain at the local school level.  (October 15, 2015)

Education, Early Learning and Culture:  The themes of character development and leadership skills are woven throughout the health, physical education, and career development curricula.  The Department of Education, Early Learning and Culture places a great importance on promoting positive character development and strong leadership skills in Island students.  There are numerous outcomes in this area that are covered throught the curriculum.  Across the grade levels, a student is expected to have covered curriculum outcomes on Citizenship and Personal Development. (October 20, 2015)