BY MICHELLE MILLER
Members of the Cooperstown Central School Character Education Research Committee recommended two programs for consideration by the board of education, and those programs were adopted after presentations were made at the June 13 meeting.
The districts will implement antibias education and diversity training by the begining the 2012-13 school year.
The charge of the Character Education Research Committee has been two-fold. One group of participants was responsible for reviewing the current K-12 character education initiatives and determining their viability and articulation with those employed at other levels. The other group of committee members has been reviewing known, researchbased programs to report back to the committee as a whole on its findings.
The overall goal of the committee was to recommend a program or combination of programs to the board of education for adoption.
According to CCS Superintendent C.J. Hebert, committee members looked at several national programs and after about six months (the group first met in December) suggested using Habitudes and A World of Difference.
The organization’s website says the Anti-Defamation League’s World of Difference Institute is a leading provider of anti-bias education and diversity training programs and resources. The site says the institute seeks to help participants: recognize bias and the harm it inflicts on individuals and society; explore the value of diversity; improve intergroup relations; and combat racism, anti-Semitism and all forms of prejudice and bigotry.
Hebert said the ADL provides several programs such as No Place for Hate, student training and its STEP UP! Assembly.
“What the board has decided to do as an initial step is to contract with the ADL for their anti-bias training and study guides for educators,” he said. “We are planning to have an anti-bias training for all of our faculty and staff; everybody from teachers, custodians to cafeteria workers and aids. Everybody will get training onthe first superintendent’s conference day on September 4.”
The training programs, according to material provided by the school, will engage participants in interactive, discussion-based activities on examining and responding to bias. As part of the training, participants receive ADL’s anti-bias study guide that includes curricular lessons designed to promote intergroup respect and an inclusive learning community.
Taunya Hannibal-Williams, assistant program director, said the study guide has been an integral part of the state Department of Education’s Respect for All program, and is also being looked at by the Dignity Act working coalition as a model program for schools.
“There is possibility for the use of the student training in the future,” Hebert said. “Some of the people of the committee had talked about the possibility of training some high school students to work with elementary students in the future.”
Hebert said the Neil Jane William Estelle Golub Family Foundation Inc. based in Schenectady is an active supporter of the ADL anti-bias program and will be underwriting half the cost of the district’s implementation of the program. The total cost of the one-day initial training, materials and access to ongoing study guides is estimatedat $12,500, according to Hebert.
“They also have assemblies that they come and do with students,” Hebert said. “We have not yet engaged with them about doing an assembly at this point.”
However, Hebert said once training is done he is sure further conversatios will take place with administration and faculty to see if there is interest in doing so.
Habitudes: Images That Form Leadership Habits and Attitudes is a series of four books written by Dr. Tim Elmore. The books teach fundamental character-based leadership principles through the power of an image, aconversation and a learning experience.
Growing Leaders, a nonprofit organization based in Atlanta, offers the Habitudes curriculum in two formats - through books and other written teaching material and through digital downloads. Founded in 2003, the mission of Growing Leaders is to develop young leaders who will transform society.
According to material provided by the school, this is accomplished by providing character-based leadership training events and resources targeted specifically for Generation Y.
“Initially, the areas where we would like to use the Habitudes curriculum and material will be in our health classes, in our new freshman seminar class that will be offered next year and we hope to incorporate it into our interscholastic athletics program,” Hebert said.
Freshman seminar is a 20- week course that will focus on standardising and supporting the research process,Hebert said. He said high school social studies teacher Jennifer Pindar, eighth-grade English teacher Ann Olmstead and media specialist Michelle Hitchcock will be collaborating to make the course a success.
“We hope to have teachers attend a training this summer. We would like to see at least one of those teachers who will be teaching the freshman seminar there. Potentially it would be ideal to have Justin Hobbie attend since he is our health teacher. We would also like our new athletic director to attend once we hire one,” he added.
According to Hebert, the cost of the Habitudes program will depend on how many people the district decides to send for training.
In other business:
• The board adopted a reciprocal agreement between the school district and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. The HOF can use the school facilities, such as the auditorium, in exchange for allowing CCS teachers and students to take advantage of the HOF’s educational programs.
• The board held a second reading and adopted Policy 7550: Dignity for All Students Act, Amendment-Policy 3410: Code of Conduct on School Property and Amendment- Policy 38242: Civility, Citizenship and Character Education/ Interpersonal Violence Prevention Education.
According to Hebert, the policy committee intends to look at the distirct’s code of conduct in its entirety next year.
• Before the meeting, a reception was held in the middle/high school cafeteria to recognize school employees receiving tenure. Those recognized were Junili Arkema (music), Sita Fey (media specialist), Tim Iversen (music), Amy Mahar (science 7-12), Daphne Monie (science 7-12), Thomas Place(business) and Amy Kukenberger (administration).
Anti-bias education and diversity training to start by the beginning of school year
BY MICHELLE MILLER
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