Businesses, civic organizations, churches, and others sponsors are funding a literature program for students in Marksville, Louisiana that’s focused on courtesy, citizenship, and character.
The Ambassador Company launched its Character Education Program at Marksville Elementary several years ago with children’s books designed to offer important lessons for 1st- and 4th-grade students, Ambassador representative Stacie Thomas told Avoyelles Today.
“We chose first and fourth grades for the program because those are impressionable ages,” she said. “Each chapter in the book is a lesson. They learn the lesson and immediately apply it.” The program is free, and it’s now expanding to other elementary schools in the region.
The book for 1st-graders is titled My Favorite Book, and it deals with issues like manners and kindness, responsibility, and community pride, while the 4th-grade book, The Way To Go discusses deeper topics like death and mourning, peer pressure, and bullying. Some classes incorporate the books into daily lessons, while others task students with studying the material at home and discussing the material with their parents and teachers.
District Elementary Education Supervisor Celeste Voinche told Avoyelles Today the books “deal with being a good citizen, using good manners and being good to others.” “I think it’s a good idea,” she said, adding that she wants to expand the program to other schools. “We stress literacy in the schools and believe in having books in children’s hands.”
Dawn Pitre, principal at Marksville Elementary, said the program’s focus on three Cs—courtesy, citizenship and character—fit in well with other character development efforts already underway. “We focus on what we call the ‘Four Keys for Success’—responsibility, respect, perseverance and integrity,” Pitre said. “We stress these values all day. These books tie into what we already doing.”
Ambassador Company’s Character Education Program is funded through sponsors including business, civic organizations, churches, and individuals, and Thomas is currently working on drumming up funding for next year. The program doesn’t cost schools anything.
The challenge is for parents and educators to convey to students that those virtues are expected, rather than simply a fun thing to read about. There must be a quality of authority for them to be binding.
Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture founder James Davison Hunter writes in The Death of Character that a strong vision of good character “is imbued with a quality of sacredness.” “The standards by which one lives and the purposes to which one aspires have a coherence and inviolability about them and they beckon ever forward . . .,” wrote Hunter.
At Marksville Elementary, Pitre said teachers and administrators “stress these values all day,” which provides coherent messages for children and makes the most of the school’s partnership with the groups underwriting the character-through-literature initiative.
The Jubilee Center for Character and Virtues offers Knightly Virtues lesson plans for educators who want to use literature to build a coherent focus on character across the curriculum.