Every great idea has a spark, a moment where it smacks you over the head and you can't believe you missed the forest through the trees. For me, that moment had to do with the role of schools and what education is supposed to achieve.
One of our Directors started an informal discussion about what the goal of our K8 charter school should be. He posed the question, 'What's the goal for our graduating 8th graders?' If you think about it, by 8th grade, these students have been with us since PreK. Next, to their parents, they are spending more time within the walls of our school than anywhere else. What a simple question. Is our goal memorization, critical thinking, the scientific method, grammar rules, how to write a 5 paragraph essay? The answer was so intuitive that my family actually answered the question a decade ago when we selected our kids' kindergarten to 8th-grade experience.
When he shared the idea with me, he relayed that the few teachers, admin, and parents that he asked came back with one simple answer, 'TO BE AWARE OF OTHERS'.
There it was, the Golden Rule. The basis of every major religion from Buddhism, to Islam and Christianity and Judaism and a characteristic that has kept civilizations and tribes together for thousands of years. Awareness of others. From that moment on fog was lifted in my life and I moved from the tactics of running a school system to the PURPOSE of running a school system. The purpose that hit me that day was that we were here to ensure the academic success of our students AND to help mold and model positive character.
From this idea, we have developed a 9 point character education plan that can help schools to implement research-backed theories that improve academic outcomes in students and help to build character in K to 12th-grade students.