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Wofford to Host 4th Character Education Academy

Friday, June 14, 2002

SPARTANBURG, SC—Wofford College next week will host its fourth annual Character Education Academy, a training program for teachers that started at Wofford in 1999 and has been adopted as the model for a statewide program.

Thirty-five teachers and administrators from Spartanburg, Cherokee and Union counties will participate in Wofford’s program this year, which runs from Tuesday, June 18, through Saturday, June 22. Some 150 educators will participate in academies held at Wofford and at the University of South Carolina at Salkehatchie, Coker College and South Carolina State University.

“Character education is first the responsibility of the family, but that needs to be reinforced in the community and in the schools,” says Dr. Charles Kay, a Wofford philosophy professor who is director of the local academy and a teacher scholar in the program. “It is vital that we help and support our teachers in instilling character in their students. The academy is designed to further equip and encourage educators in this important task. Wofford is delighted to have the academy on our campus.”

The academies are seen as a way to continue to expand efforts to implement character education programs statewide after a 2000 study showing that these programs are producing positive results, according to the South Carolina State Department of Education. The October 2000 study, conducted by the University of South Carolina’s Center for Child and Family Studies, showed that 91 percent of the state’s schools had character education efforts, compared to 79 percent in September 1998.

Sixty-five percent of school administrators in the 2000 study reported improvements in academic performance from character education programs, compared to 60 percent reported previously.

“This evaluation verifies that teaching students character traits, such as responsibility and dependability, has a positive effect on classroom performance,” says State Superintendent of Education Inez Tenenbaum. “We’d like to have 100 percent participation statewide, so we’re offering four intensive training sessions to help teachers use character education to support their academic instruction.”

Locally, Wofford professors Dr. Mary Margaret Richards and Dr. Deno Trakas will teach segments of the academy, as will Kay. Dr. Mark Byrnes also will assist with the academy. Clifton Taulbert, author of “Eight Habits of the Heart,” will return this year to conduct sessions at Wofford.

Participants have extensive reading to be done before their program begins. At Wofford, their readings will include selections ranging from Aristotle and Plato to the Bible, and from “Hamlet” to “The Little Prince.”

Teachers can earn three hours of graduate credit through Converse College for successfully completing the course.

“This is our fourth academy, and we look forward continuing to offer this important program,” Kay says. “The administration at Wofford College has been extremely supportive of the academy, which originally was funded by the Spartanburg County Foundation, the Inman-Riverdale Foundation and the Mary Black Foundation. We are proud that the academy was started at Wofford and has become a model for statewide character education training.”