News - GC Teaching Character Plus

GC Teaching Character Plus

Written by Dave Bell

This story originally ran in the Greenville Advocate, August 9, 2016.

Character education programs have been springing up in schools around the country in recent years. To implement those programs, schools have had to send their teachers to a training program, such as one called Character Plus in the St. Louis area.

But Greenville College is taking that movement one step further. It is requiring all of its prospective teachers to take the 25-hour Character Plus training before launching into their teaching career.

And in doing so, it’s placed itself in the forefront of the nation’s schools of education.

Dr. Lisa Amundsen “We’ve decided to train everybody,” said Dr. Lisa Amundson (pictured left), associate professor of special education at Greenville College. “We will integrate it into our Learning Environment class, and that certification will be required for graduation.

“It’s really a natural fit with what Greenville College has always done. We emphasize that our teachers must teach the whole student.”

The college actually started the character training last year, when 10 education majors traveled to St. Louis to go through the certification training. This year, another 40 future educators will be trained.

The Character Plus instruction, Amundson said, is based on the idea that teachers and students work together to solve problems that arise in the classroom. It also equips teachers to use those teachable moments – as well as issues dealt with in textbooks – to integrate character lessons into academic programs.

“It has to be very intentional,” Amundson said. “The teachers must be looking for opportunities to talk about positive character qualities – so that they can be creating citizens who are kind, compassionate, willing to serve, and are good neighbors.

“Education has always had a goal of creating good citizens, and that leads directly from teaching about good character.

“Certainly, that sort of teaching is part of the family’s job. But it’s also the school’s job. These days, when it’s not always being taught at home, somebody’s got to do it.”

Amundson said that a good deal of the credit for Greenville College embracing the Character Plus training goes to Greenville resident Carol Knight, who has championed the cause of introducing character-based instruction into Greenville’s schools in recent years.

“Greenville College will be the first college to use Character Plus materials in its student teaching curriculum,” Knight said. “I could see Greenville College being a training center for other colleges that want to do similar training.”

Indeed, the time is right for the college to take the lead, Amundson said.

“Greenville College is the perfect place for us to begin teaching our teachers about Character Plus,” said Amundson, a Greenville College graduate, who went on to get her master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Missouri at St. Louis. She then taught in a school in St. Louis that was using the Character Plus curriculum.

“Our education students are super excited about this program,” she said. “The Millennial Generation students understand the importance of this. They’re very interested in making a difference and having an impact. They are hungry to learn the skills on how to teach character issues.

“And we’re confident that future employers of our graduates will see that our teachers are concerned with every aspect of the students’ lives – not just the academic side.”

Read more about teacher education at GC

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This story was published on January 03, 2017

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