The Edmond Sun

University Life

August 12, 2012

Teachers build character, not just competence

EDMOND — Future teachers from throughout Oklahoma, including Oklahoma City University student Courtney Cagle from Edmond, met July 19-21 to learn why character education matters and how to become proficient at it during a program called the Summer Institute for Character Education.

“Most colleges and universities do not include a formal class on character education,” said Dr. Earlene Smith, president of the Oklahoma Center for Character Education. “So in cooperation with the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, we started the Summer Institute to help future teachers develop the language, skills and disposition necessary to become effective character educators prior to graduation.”

The Summer Institute was free to participants, thanks to the Oklahoma Center for Character Education, the Edmond Character Council, the Character Council of Central Oklahoma, Ideal Homes of Norman, Professional Oklahoma Educators, Oklahoma Educator’s Credit Union, the University of Central Oklahoma, Character First and Kimray, Inc.

This year’s program included a session with Danny Clifton and Donna O’Neal, administrators at Choctaw Middle School, who spoke on the growing problem of bullying on campus and strategies to address it. Character First trainer Robert Greenlaw helped connect school challenges such as bullying to underlying character issues.

Greenlaw said many problems in today’s classroom can be traced to a lack of character, including bullying, tardiness, disrespect for teachers, cheating, vandalism, profanity and drug abuse, all of which hinder student achievement, school safety and public confidence.

Smith taught how to build a character vocabulary using her book, “Speaking Character.”

“It’s important that we share a common language so when teachers say responsibility or truthfulness their students know exactly what those words mean.”

Dr. Susan Scott, professor at the University of Central Oklahoma, taught how to integrate character and values into standard curriculum.

“Teaching character doesn’t have to be a separate class,” Scott said. “You can connect it to any lesson if you’re looking for those opportunities. It is part of good classroom management.”

As more teachers integrate character in their daily lessons and conversations, Smith said she expects more students will be thoughtful about the choices they make and more courageous to do the right thing, even when it’s hard.

To learn more about the Summer Institute or the Character First program, call 877-357-0001 or visit

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