Bulldog Strong, CharacterStrong

Bulldog Strong, CharacterStrong
Posted on 03/11/2020
from Brad Ellebracht, Mexico High Principal

At Mexico High School we take pride in preparing our students to make a positive impact in the world beyond high school. This means they must have a set of intellectual and social tools, and the ability to use them in the real world after they walk across the stage with their diploma. Students have to be ready for the rigors of the workplace or college in so many ways.  

As adults, we all know that, very often, the toughest thing about our jobs can be just getting along with our co-workers, and influencing our work environment to be positive and rewarding.  The skills needed to do these things are not easy to come by, but they can be learned through intentional guidance and preparation. We are taking this responsibility seriously.

CharacterStrong is a character development program we have implemented this year at Mexico High School. One of the most important parts of a young person’s education is a difficult to measure, often difficult to define, set of skills that are commonly referred to as social-emotional skills. On the CharacterStrong website, there is a statement that sums up what we see in schools every day: “Most people want to BE good but not all of us know how to DO good.” For this reason, we take the learning and exercising of strong character traits as an important part of our educational process.

There are three school-wide components to the program that we implement every week. First, there is a weekly lesson that is completed during our seminar time at the end of every Tuesday.  These lessons cover topics such as having a growth mindset, real-life kindness, honesty, self-regulation, empathy, personal branding, and many more. As you can see, there are a broad range of topics that are all important, but not alway intentionally taught. This is how programs like CharacterStrong benefit students.

Another part of the program is weekly CharacterDares. As part of the instruction, students are challenged to carry out one or two simple things over the next week to see the impact of being thoughtful, kind, or supportive toward others. Students are challenged to do things like post positive messages on social media, examine the way they spend their time in relationship to the goals they have set for themselves, or to reach out to someone with a note of gratitude.

The third piece of the puzzle for us is what we call the “gym.” These are activities we embed into our daily instruction across content areas that not only improve learning, but give students the opportunity to practice those interpersonal skills that are necessary across all walks of life.

As you can see, at MHS CharacterStrong is a big part of being Bulldog strong as we collaborate to give students an opportunity to serve more, sacrifice often, and spread kindness.