Gift will help schools teach character education

By CHRIS KIEFFER / NEMS Daily Journal

Students in Monroe and Lafayette Counties will learn more about building their character, thanks to a financial gift from the Haskell Foundation and Rivers Rutherford.
The foundation and the award-winning songwriter partnered to provide a $20,000 gift that will be used to provide the Integrity Time program to schools in both counties.
It will be offered to schools in Amory, Oxford, Aberdeen, Nettleton, Smithville, Hatley, Hamilton and Lafayette County, according to a press release from the Haskell Foundation. Some of those schools have already begun using the program, while details are still being worked out in others.
Integrity Time is a program designed to teach students about building their character.
This gift will provide Integrity Time’s “Know It” module, which is designed for kindergarten and first-grade students and uses the alphabet, songs, snacks and games to teach lessons.
Integrity Time Creator Sara Berry said there are 26 lessons that are designed to be taught once a week for about 20 to 30 minutes each. She said the lessons are compatible with other character-building programs schools may be using.
“I used to be a teacher, so I know the pressure teachers are under and what they have to accomplish in a day’s time,” Berry said. “I wrote the lesson in an easy format so it takes little preparation and little time to implement. Because it is fun, the kids pick up on it.”
Sam Haskell, chairman of the Haskell Foundation, said the initial donation will be used to pilot the program in participating schools. He said that more funding could be provided as they check the statistics of the program’s impact.
Integrity Time also has a module for second- to fourth-grade students. Berry said they are working to develop one for fifth through seventh and perhaps even through high school.
“I have become increasingly concerned with the issues of bullying in our schools, and the fact that so many children are not being exposed to character-building exercises at home or in our classrooms,” Haskell said in a press release issued by the Haskell Foundation.
“My wife, Mary, and the Haskell Foundation Board agree, and we are so pleased to partner with Integrity Time’s Sara Berry and Kerry Coke to try to make a real difference in these children’s lives.”
Margaret Boyd, principal of Lafayette Elementary, said she believed the program would be beneficial.
“Our goal is to educate the whole child, including their character, and that is why we are participating,” she said.
Integrity Time is being used in classrooms around the world, said Kerry Coke, director of sales for Integrity Time. In Northeast Mississippi, it is being used in 45 schools, representing more than 300 classrooms and 5,400 students, Coke said.
Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or chris.kieffer@djournal.com.