With each new school year, character education becomes a primary focus for both teachers and district administration. Building that sense of mutual respect can be a challenge during the initial weeks of school. Getting students back into the swing of things takes time, but strong character education programs kick the school year off right. At both Washington West and East View Elementary Schools in Olean, NY, respect and teamwork became the center of attention at school wide assemblies held at the buildings this September. With the help of St. Bonaventure University and the Athletics Department, student athletes became the focus for a conversation on being husky-pups of good character.
Be the tradition. Those were the words that resonated through the halls of the elementary buildings this past month. St. Bonaventure’s Director of Marketing and Promotions, Seth Johnson, spoke about the importance of maintaining a long-standing tradition of respect, teamwork and good character. He encouraged students to do as the athletes at SBU do – work hard, respect the advice of their teachers, their parents, and their coaches – carrying on this tradition in every aspect of their lives. Johnson, who was once a member of the long-standing tradition at Bonaventure as a member of the organization’s Men’s Swimming and Diving Team, rallied the students around the idea of being a part of a tradition that fosters great character and great citizens of the Olean community at large.
As a culmination to the event, student athletes from every athletic organization at Bonaventure escorted students back to their classrooms, where they read them a story. The crowd favorite was perhaps the gentleman standing at 7’ tall, Mr. Youssou Ndoye. Standing by his side was fellow teammate from SBU’s Men’s Basketball Roster, Mr. Jordan Gathers, both senior members of this year’s squad. At Washington West, the pair sat down to read Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak to a large group of second graders with wide eyes and avid interest. Brian Crawford, principal of East View Elementary explains the true value behind the welcomed guests: “It was great to have the athletes from St. Bonaventure celebrate respect and tolerance with us at our end of the month character education assembly. It is important for us as educators to be explicit, even with young students, about why choices matter, why respect and tolerance matter, and show them what it looks like. In this case, role models from SBU demonstrated that for our students.”
The final message from the athletes: work hard to achieve your goals, and respect those that can help you to make the most out of your learning and of your life.
Students waved goodbye after visiting with the special guests, realizing the tradition of respect that they, too, can carry with them in the community and beyond.
2nd Grade Teachers Lori Lewicki and Brian Martin introduce SBU Men’s Basketball Players to their students
By: Lauren Stuff, CA BOCES