ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) – In an effort to boost student performance, two more schools in the St. Louis Public School District plan to incorporate life lessons in the classroom.
Character education will be introduced to Sumner and Vashon High Schools in the 2016-2017 school year.
“We’re talking about kindness. We’re talking about being helpful. These are things that are applicable to home, school, church, everywhere,” SLPS Deputy Superintendent Stacy Clay said.
Character education represents one of a few changes to the curriculum at Vashon and Sumner, Clay said. The schools will also transition from neighborhood schools to specialized curriculums.
While other schools in the district have experienced marked improvement, Vashon and Sumner have struggled. Low attendance and graduation rates remain a concern. Both schools are situated in communities where poverty, crime, and violence persist.
“The school may not reflect those pro-social values that we really want to see in young people. So we recognize in some places, the school needs to do more to really promote those pro-social behaviors,” Clay said.
Character Plus works with dozens of schools throughout the St. Louis area. St. Louis Public Schools’ Woerner Elementary was recently named a Missouri School of Character.
Woerner students learn the ramifications of “negative” talk.
Second grader Sophia Wallace participated in a character-building exercise, in which students attached bandages to cutouts representing humans.
“It hurts them. And you’ll put a scar on them,” she said, explaining the effect negative words have on people.
“We want these character traits to become habits,” Principal Peggy Meyer said. “Because once something becomes a habit it’s very easy to continue that through adulthood.”
Clay said character education can benefit students of all ages.
“Respect, kindness, helpfulness,” he said. “These are things that are timeless. And just as an educational institution, we don’t believe it’s every too late for any kid.”