By Sue Kiesewetter
FAIRFIELD - Superintendent Robert Farrell has a goal for Fairfield and Fairfield Township.
"We want to be a community known for character education," Farrell said Monday. "How are we going to build this initiative so it takes over Fairfield?"
Answering that question is what brought dozens of educators, city and township representatives, parents and community leaders together Monday for the second phase of a character education project.
Two months ago, Phillip Vincent of the Character Development Group in Chapel Hill, N.C., brought his ideas to Fairfield and began working with community members and educators.
The meeting was sponsored by several groups, including the Joe Nuxhall Character Education Foundation.
Monday, he returned to help teachers select and define the traits that will be the focus for the 2004-2005 school year that begins Wednesday.
Community members brainstormed ideas to bring the message outside the classroom walls and into the community for reinforcement.
Today, every educator in the district will hear the message at a back-to-school meeting, during which Fairfield's Teacher of the Year will be announced.
"Character education was in every building to a degree," Farrell said. "But we didn't have the unity and focus we're bringing now."
Ideally, the community would reinforce what the schools are doing through some sort of monthly, visible activity related to that month's character trait, Vincent said. Children who volunteer in the community could earn school varsity letters similar to what athletes receive.
And businesses could pay for a character education message on a billboard in a visible location.
Brochures could be developed and distributed at fast-food restaurants, by police officers and firefighters visiting the schools, or other outlets, he said. Clergy could tie at least one sermon every month to the trait being emphasized in the classrooms.
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