It has been said that from deeds grow habits which culminate into character and it is this, character, which ultimately serves as the foundation for our destiny. Area students (grades K through 12) are destined to focus more on that foundation thanks to a new initiative designed to complement traditional school curriculum with lessons on character building. Currently being launched throughout the Collier County School System, local businesses and organizations such as The Boys and Girls Club, this new emphasis on excellence of character is spurred on by the spinning explications within a device described as â€œThe Circle of Excellence.
With its pie-chart panoply of colors, the Circles may resemble something from Wheel of Fortune, but in this case, designated values are reflected in terms of desirable virtues; ideals that include loyalty, honesty, respect and responsibility.
The mechanism rotates such that each month of the school year corresponds with a particular character trait.
Students are encouraged to reflect on their understanding and application of these virtues, just as teachers are encouraged to incorporate their own means of imparting character building lessons within the framework of their respective academic programs. Working together with Dr. Leonard Ferenz, an International College Philosophy Professor and Director of The Center for Ethics, The Character Council of Collier County conceived and developed the program.
Dr. Ferenz says the initiative helps fulfill several community prerogatives.
Florida is one of only 10 states where schools adhere to a legislative mandate to develop character education curriculum. Florida State Statute Title XLVIII, Chapter 1003.42 requires the curriculum stress a range of qualities; everything from patriotism, citizenship, kindness, self-control and charity, to respect for life, liberty and personal property and more.
Dr. Ferenz says this initiative supports that instruction, but is also designed to further Collier County comportment as a Community of Character.
Collier is one of four Florida counties distinguished as such by the International Association of Character Cities (IACC).
In 2001, the Collier County Board of Commissioners created the Community of Character Council to further goals relative to their IACC affiliation and today, the Character Council functions as a non-profit organization dedicated to character education.
For that education to be effective, the IACC indicates it must be included within the entire school community.
To that end, Dr. Ferenz advises that a variety of areas businesses (including sponsors like Ritz Carlton Resorts, Iron Stone Bank and International College) have pledged to display the Circles of Excellence so employees (especially those who are parents) can better monitor what students are learning.
The goal is to have a community on the same page, says Dr. Ferenz.
The Circle of Excellence helps bring greater visibility to an ongoing campaign, and also helps ensure the community understands what information is being taught in the public schools.