Darlene http://www.starrgennett.org/online/ Laguna
“Maintaining a positive school climate is important. You can’t get to the business of teaching and learning if students don’t feel safe that they are safe” according to Aileen Sterling, Principal of Cerro Villa Middle School.
Such sentiments led her to ask Jennifer Van Horik a counselor at Cerro Villa to implement a character Education program called Values in Action! Van Horik remembered the program from her days as a student in the Irvine Unified School District and was motivated by the challenge. The result was teen respect which she launched the following month Values in Action! Is an intensive k-12 character Education program developed by Gene Bedley, founder and CEO of the National Character Education Center in Rancho Santa Margarita California.
The program is based on 7 core ethical virtues Positive Mental Attitude, Respect, Integrity. Compassion , Perseverance, Cooperation and Initiative. It focuses on developing responsible and value driven students. Van Horik chose “Respect” for the theme for the year and worked with Bedley and Andrew Cipolla the Values in Action! Middle School Coordinator to tailor the program to Cerro Villa’s needs. She began by choosing the heart of Teen Respect.
“The hardest task was choosing the students for the program. For a program like this it is necessary for student “buy in”.”
Van Horik began by asking teachers to recommend students that were looked upon as leaders and who had the respect of their peers. She then interviewed those students Some of the questions Van Horik asked were: “How do you show respect?” “How do you gain respect from your peers?” and “Why is respect important to have in relationships?”
Andrew Cipolla then led a 2 hour, interactive seminar for the students. They discussed, defined and planned how they would teach and promote respect among their peers. One of the most important messages the students received Van Horik believes is that no one should have to gain or earn your respect- you should just give it to them.
The seminar was empowering and challenging to the students It left them with a mission declares Van Horik “I wish the entire school could have had the seminar” Van Horik decided to present parts of the seminar to the entire school. The Teen Respect students began meeting at least twice per week. They developed a series of presentations With respect as their core theme Each Teen Respect member would take turns delivering the presentations to every homeroom and reading weekly reminders during morning announcements.
Topics of the presentations included defining values, recognizing what respect is and is not, and respectful listening. (all activities in the Values in Action! Seminar workbooks) Teen Respect members also surveyed the student body asking what each person thought Was the biggest obstacle toward having respect on campus.
Van Horik and Principal Aileen Sterling were both surprised when profanity surfaced as the biggest concern. Teen Respects biggest campaign Clear the air Appropriate language is spoken here. The Campaign included a contest where each homeroom was challenged to create an anti -profanity slogan. The winner was “Would you kiss your mother with that mouth?” Others were Clear the air try not to swear” The Clear the air Campaign also included “10 tips to control your tongue” From the cuss control; Academy website at cusscontrol.com These were posted and presented to each homeroom. In March Bedley himself came to Cerro Villa and presented a seminar for a staff Development day for teachers By this time Van Horik noted , the teachers had already seen the student’s interest in the program She describes the staff as very supportive and involved. Is the program working? “The kids around me , before they say something, remember what we taught them and think about the slogans states Leila Hammad, an eighth grade Teen Respect member. They’re thinking before they actually say something.”
Ten Tips to Tame your Tongue
1. Recognize that swearing does damage
2. Start by eliminating casual swearing
3. Think Positively
4. Practice being Patient
5. Cope don’t cuss
6. Stop Complaining
7. Use alternative words
8. Make your point politely
9. Think of what you should have said
10. Work at it.