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Character Education

Preparing Summer Interns to Teach Character Education

June 29, 2007 UPF Caribbean Summer Intern Training at Kirkwood Camp in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania
Six eager interns began their internship in character education for the 2007 Character Education Internships Abroad Program with a training held in Kirkwood Camp in the beautiful Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania June 26-29, 2007. The hot and humid weather during the training was perhaps part of the preparation for these college-age youth from 18 years to 21 years of age who are going out to points in the Caribbean this summer to work at day camps and schools where they will be teaching the lessons from Discovering the Real Me.

Two interns are already in the Dominican Republic, where they are teaching the lessons in Spanish. Others will be going to St. Lucia, St. Vincent, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Coordinators Poppy Richie and Sally Sayre hosted the interns and four others who came to be trained in UPF's Character Education Curriculum. Mrs. Sayre teaches English at Northwestern Lehigh High School in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania. Mrs. Richie, who is a teacher at the Principled Academy, a character education school in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, gave presentations on character education in general, the way her school operates in teaching character education as a comprehensive strategy, and how the UPF focus is unique in its emphasis on a life-long approach which centers on the family as the principal school of character education.

Two of the trainees brought a special serendipity to the experience. Dennis Salmon came from Jamaica in order to be trained in the material himself. However, he was able to answer many questions for the interns about what life is like in the islands. They learned about the history, politics and culture of the Caribbean, and they also heard how important character education is in helping young people find their true value.

Veronica Evangeline, a journalist and lawyer from Uzbekistan, came from Washington DC and will be returning to Kazakhstan following the workshop. She realized during the training that she had heard these stories and their lessons before. Her mother used books published by IEF (International Education Foundation) in the early 90s to teach Veronica and her classmates. She hopes to bring this curriculum back to Central Asia.

Another highlight of training was having two interns, Diana Santelli and Maria Lee, who had just returned from completing a month-long program in Belize, share their experiences and lesson plans. They gave many helpful suggestions to those venturing out.

The success of the training will be better gauged after the interns have completed their internships, but some of the comments of the interns give an indication of how helpful they deemed their training experience:

"I received a deeper understanding of what character education really is and what this initiative is hoping to accomplish. . . "

"I think the most valuable lesson I received was that in order to be a character educator, I must be a person of good character. . ."

"I feel 100 times more confident about going out to do my internship than before I came. . . I learned how to teach the curriculum, confidence in it, and the importance and necessity of what we are doing. . ."

"I was very grateful for Diana's and Maria's testimony. I can use some of their teaching strategies as a model."

UPF's Character Education Initiative is sending interns this summer to seven countries in total, including; Belize, The Gambia in West Africa, Palau, Dominican Republic, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Trinidad and Tobago.

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