Character education is a priority in many schools nationwide. Congress even appropriated millions in grants for states to provide such programs, designed to promote community values in students. A museum in Pooler, Ga., outside Savannah, also took that message to heart. The Mighty Eighth Air Force Heritage Museum, which commemorates the sacrifices of U.S. airmen from World War II to today, has become a living classroom for character education. Its exhibits are real-life examples of compassion, generosity and the 25 other traits in Georgia’s character curriculum.
Compassion, for instance, is taught through the story of an injured B-17 pilot and a German flier. Instead of shooting down the damaged plane, the German flew alongside and guided it out of enemy airspace.
Generosity is taught through the story of a supply drop to starving Dutch citizens. And all this happened while one in four airmen in the Mighty Eighth was being lost in raids over Germany.
“We can teach by example,” notes Vivian Rogers-Price, the museum director of education. And her museum’s accomplishments also serve as an example of character. When budget cuts forced many regional schools to cancel field trips, the Mighty Eighth found sponsors like Wal-Mart to help cover the cost of a museum visit. Now this is the only field trip some schools will have. Last year, more than 10,000 students participated in the museum’s character-education program, assisted by volunteers, mostly combat veterans.
To learn more, visit www.mightyeighth.org on the Web.