Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Character Rejoins 3 R's in Duval Public Schools

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Character Rejoins 3 R's in Duval Public Schools

Article excerpt

Byline: John Carter, Times-Union staff writer

Public schools are taking a page from the past to put a sharper focus on students' character development.

A new "focused, integrated initiative" will help Duval County schools "infuse character into all aspects of the school day," said Deborah Hansen, project coordinator for the initiative, called the 2004-05 Year of Character.

She said the idea is to return morality, ethics and good citizenship to front and center in all the city's schools.

"In a way, it's nothing new, because our schools have continued to reward and encourage good behavior and positive character traits. We've always focused on creating good citizens," Hansen said.

But the thrust of the new initiative could seem a little retro, because character, respect and personal responsibility will be highlighted and frequently discussed, as it was in years past.

In addition, she said, there is a sense today of "moving away from the values-free atmosphere" that began to infiltrate public education in the 1960s.

"We're talking about values again," she said. "We're making it clear how important it is to everyone. We're heightening awareness in many ways."

Superintendent John Fryer said character development is an integral part of every student's education. But no matter how much schools stress character, parents and early childhood development will always be key in determining the people children become, he said.

"The foundation of a child's character begins in the home and can be strengthened in many ways during a typical school day," Fryer said. "As a team, the entire community can build people of character who are prepared to walk successfully in the world in all aspects of life."

As project coordinator, Hansen's mission is to make sure everyone in every school is aware there is a mandate to stress character development, highlight morality and reflect that emphasis in every aspect of school, day in and day out, she said. …

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