The vision of Clayton Valley Charter High School is clear: "To prepare students to become first class citizens with a world class education." This is a two-dimensional vision, focused first and foremost upon academic excellence and secondly upon character education. While most of our time is spent in the classroom on academic learning, we know that preparing students to become college-ready is not the only thing vital to the success of our students and to our society at large. What kind of people we are developing is as important as how successful they are in their future careers.
Throughout my career in education, I have always kept a close eye on character education. We are in the business of raising citizens, building our country, and developing students who will be able to navigate through the pitfalls, challenges, temptations, and a barrage of media messages that can cause our young people to go astray. Drugs, alcohol, sex, violence, discrimination, gossip, slander, hatred, greed, envy, materialism, cheating, lying, stealing, laziness, and a host of other forces face our kids and challenge their character. Our teens have more obstacles and pressures facing them than ever faced us when we were their age. Being a young person of character is truly more difficult today than ever before!
This is why parents and schools must be partners in education. Together we can shape our student's values, character and beliefs. But the one thing I learned many years ago is this: "More is caught than is taught." I know that teens are constantly observing us and listening to the adults around them and they are learning by our actions. "Our actions are speaking so loud, they cannot hear what we are saying." This is a quote that really caught my attention years ago as my wife and I raised our son. I was constantly aware he heard our comments, jokes, and learned from our ethics. Kids have a way of keeping us on our toes, that's for sure.
In an era where the television and music our teens are watching and listening to has so many subliminal messages, along with outright blatant messages that impact our teen's lives, we must have a focus on character and ethics. We must have those conversations in an informal and friendly atmosphere whereby we can discuss what they are watching and hearing. We must have those frank discussions, as uncomfortable as they can become, regarding honesty, truthfulness, generosity, becoming "our brother's keeper," looking out for the weak and vulnerable, speaking well of others, etc. If we do not have these conversations, then we are leaving our most precious possessions - our kids- in the hands of the media and their peers. Let us not abdicate our primary responsibility of being the shapers of our teen's character and of their ethics and beliefs. You are the parent. Your teen does value your opinions and your knowledge, even though they do not always show it. Together...let us model the character we want them to become. Let's "do the right thing."
As we start to wind down this school year, character education will increasingly take a more prominent role at CVCHS as this is our vision to have first class citizens with a world class education! Will you use this newsletter as an invitation to join me as partners in this most essential challenge?