The Payson Unified School District has taken a leadership role in working with the state to introduce a character education program into its schools.
Called Character Counts, the effort is part of a program established by Governor Jane Hull to provide voluntary character education training to educators throughout the state.
While the Payson schools are playing a pioneering role, parents and others who care about young people can rest assured that similar programs have been instituted and evaluated in other states.
Character education is a reaction to changes in American society that have resulted in a weakening of the family, changes that are reflected in the stories we read in the newspaper or watch on the news of dysfunctional behavior that many see as an emotional reaction to an increasingly complicated and pressure-filled world.
Research indicates that young people are not immune from these changes, and that in fact adolescents have become more concerned for themselves and less concerned for others.
While these problems should be addressed primarily by families, schools must assume a supporting role. It is, after all, part of their function to prepare graduates for interaction with people as they assume their responsibilities in the community and workplace.
Character education programs focus on a set of guiding principles that contribute to success at school, within families, in seeking and holding jobs, and functioning as productive citizens.
Character Counts is based on six pillars: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship.
By integrating these guiding principles into the classroom a synergistic effect occurs, with character education enhancing academic instruction and vice versa.
The Character Counts program will only be as successful as the support it receives from parents and the rest of our community.
We applaud the leadership the school district is providing and encourage everybody to get involved as the program unfolds in the coming months.