So much so that Mayor Paula Dierenfeld signed a proclamation at the October 15 city council meeting declaring October 21-27 “Character Counts” week in Johnston.
“This is truly one of the best programs in this community,” Dierenfeld said during the council meeting.
The six pillars of character – trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship – are visible in every Johnston school and throughout a number of community buildings. During the school year, students are encouraged to model their behavior and actions on these six pillars.
For example, students at Lawson elementary kick off the school year with a “Pillar Pride” week where they learn about the six pillars of character and how they can develop these traits during the year. As part of the kick off events, students raised money and then used those funds to package meals for the Meal from the Heartland program. Dean of Students Ken Turnis said the learning opportunities associated with the project went beyond preparing a dry meal.
“We kicked things off during our Pillar Pride week, and explained to students what they would be doing, who their meals were feeding, and where these packages would be sent,” Turnis said. “From there, teachers used the Meals from the Heartland website to show worldwide need, demonstrated how the dry meals made a complete meal for a family, and used math skills to calculate the cost per meal for different groups of people. This year’s service project ties in well with the school’s year-long goal to develop world-class character in each student.”
About 40 students, parents, and educators from each elementary were on hand at the city council meeting to introduce themselves and be part of the proclamation. Jan Maronn, school counselor at Timber Ridge Elementary said positive experiences with character building leads to a strong community.
“Having students, business leaders, and [school] staff from Johnston helps us all see that we’re striving for the same mission; students see that the community values these traits through the proclamation,” Maronn said. “We know that at the elementary level, these six traits are foundational skills to building good citizens. And, we hope that by starting at a young age, students will develop and demonstrate good character as they grow up.”
In recognition of Character Counts Week, schools will host special activities.