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Character education being taught through physical education

Melinda Jobe, at left, and Sara Mintz, both teachers at Poplin Elementary, learn to balance two basketballs while walking, one of several confidence-building activities given to UCPS teachers during a recent day-long workshop.

“Confidence is the by-product of competence.” This is one of the philosophies taught through a character education club held at about a dozen Union County Public Schools elementary and middle schools.

The BC (Because I Can) Ballhandling Club, a 20-week program, teaches students the following philosophies: “I am responsible for the student I become,” “I must work like the student I want to be,” and “I must be willing to change – grow – improve.”

It teaches students how to: “Pay Attention, It Pays Off;” “Never Say, ‘I can’t’,” “Always Say, ‘I’ll Try’;” “Play Hard, Play Smart, Have Fun;” “Share the Fun, Share the Love;” and “Do the Work.”

The club is brought to the school system by NetWorks Basketball, a nonprofit organization that promotes character development through physical education in an effort “to help students build positive character traits, develop skills and realize their limitless potential.”

Anne Flippen, an interim counselor at Poplin Elementary School, spearheaded the effort to bring the club to UCPS and hopes that one day it will become integrated into the curriculum. “It’s not just us standing up there teaching kids, it’s the students actually practicing the character traits,” she said. “Students learn how to support and encourage each other. They learn how to keep going when the going gets tough or things get hard.”

The founder of this program, Mike Hollis, president of NetWorks Basketball, instructs teachers in the art of using a basketball to teach character education. He believes the school counselor and the physical education teacher are good candidates to teach the program as they have contact with most of the student population.

“The basketball is the object that is used to build character education. You could do it with a football or a golf ball,” Flippen said. “You could do it with anything. Teaching the ball handling skills is just the vehicle for teaching character education.”

The confidence learned in the club, Hollis said, can be carried over to other endeavors in a student’s life such as a difficult math class or a challenging school project.

“Studies show that a child’s ability to manage themselves emotionally is a better predictor of future success than their IQ,” Hollis said. “Work ethic matters. Honesty matters. Truthfulness matters. Education has to be moral. Our goal is to use a physical activity tied with character education and emotional intelligence.”

This is the third year the program has been offered in UCPS. “This year I hope to pull the county together at the end of March, when the programs are beginning to terminate, and have what Mr. Hollis calls, ‘The Battle of the Balls,’ where all the clubs come and perform their skills,” Flippen said.

UCPS schools that already offer this club are Indian Trail Elementary, Marshville Elementary, Prospect Elementary, Sardis Elementary, Wesley Chapel Elementary and East Union Middle. Schools planning to start clubs this year include East Elementary, Poplin Elementary, Shiloh Elementary and Piedmont Middle School.

Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, UCPS Communications Coordinator
Posted: Oct 06, 2011 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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