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Friday, January 10, 2014

Character Education - a post by Jody Rutherford, Director of Education

   Happy New Year to our BELA family, and those who follow our Blog!

   This is a time of year for reflection – on all that we are, and all that we would wish for our children.  Which brings me to speak of one of my driving passions – character education!  Some would ask, why is character education important, isn’t that the responsibility of the child’s family?  The oft used phrase ‘ it takes a village to raise a child’, has never been more important, we all choose the virtues and values we wish to instil in our children.

 Recent events have caused great joy, and great sadness, as I have had the opportunity to meet and follow the mission of Jamie McDonald– every day hero.  A young man giving of himself, visiting our country, to run across Canada with no support team, to raise funds for Children’s Hospitals in each province.  It was an honor and a privilege recently,  to hear his message regarding the genuine goodness of all people he has encountered on his journey! Jaime encouraged all of us to find our ‘inner hero’ and believe that we can do whatever we set our minds to accomplishing. The resiliency and selflessness of this young man is truly inspirational!  Which is why, recent events in Banff, which resulted in Jamie being assaulted and his belongings taken, bring shame and sadness on behalf of our country.  What a terrible way to thank this courageous young man!

 Before we decide that this type of thing only happens in places like Banff, and larger centers in our country, we need to reflect on the use of social media during our recent election, to batter and bully those individuals who chose to let their name stand in the hope of representing us in local government.  Is this the behavior we would model for our children?  Would we be willing to stand face to face with these individuals and say the things that were said via social media?  I believe that technology brings us even more challenges, as we strive to model good character for our children, and we should not model the use of social media, as a means to bully others.

 But we must have faith, that the character of Canadians will rise up!  Jamie’s supporters, and followers, utilized social media and individual determination to ensure that his belongings were returned to him. The groundswell of support will continue to grow, as those individuals who chose to try and strike down this resilient young man, have brought enhanced attention to his heroism, and a renewed determination among his supporters, that Jamie will succeed with his mission.  Canadians are people of strong character, with an international reputation for peace-keeping and supporting those less fortunate. Jamie McDonald will succeed in his mission, because we care, and are determined he that he will!

 And as a community, we will continue to make the choices which determine the type of City we wish to live in, and can choose to model the virtues we would develop in our children.  Activities such as food and clothing drives; fund raising events to provide funds for those struck down by natural disasters such as the recent hurricane in the Philippines; and opportunities to model positive character by helping someone stuck in the snow, or shoveling the walk of an elderly neighbor; all combine to teach our children the importance of virtues such as: caring, kindness, perseverance, and determination.  The Virtues Project, recognized internationally as a program that teaches the importance of teaching and modeling character development, is one which I have found during my educational career, to have a definite impact on the positive character development of children.  As a community we choose, the type of town or city we live in, and the type of character we model for the children of our community. This is why at BELA, we strive everyday to model appropriate behaviour for our students. We treat each student and parent as an individual and make it our focus to treat each with respect and compassion. Just as we teach our students to become responsible citizens, to “fill buckets” and respond to others with kindness above all else, we ask our community to strive to do the same.   It does take a Village to raise a child, so let’s work together to develop the character of our children – they are our future!

For more information about The Virtues Project, see the link below:


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