What is character counts?

At the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year, a new initiative, Character Counts, was brought to the attention of RB’s student body. Character Counts did not just suddenly begin on the first day of school. In fact, it began long before any current RB students were born, when a man named Michael Josephson founded an institute dedicated to improving society’s ethical values.

Then, the institute was brought to the attention of Principal Pam Bylsma who launched it at Hinsdale Central High School and found it to be very successful. Now, she has continued her work with Character Counts and other similar programs here at RB.

Bylsma has brought Character Counts to RB because this is her life’s work. She wants people to not only learn in the classroom, but to also improve their ethical values.

But really, what is Character Counts? How is it going to affect everyone in the RB community? Is it meant to fix people?

Character Counts is the school branch of the Josephson Institute and Bylsma described it as “one philosophy, one organization that provides training and materials to address [the ethics] problem.”

The initiative has six pillars that are meant to provide a basis for ethical quality. The pillars include trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship. The administration will use these pillars to try to improve the RB community, but they do not know how they will do that yet. They are still in the process of collecting data. As a part of the research, the administration has sent out a bullying survey to students and they are planning to create some student forums.

The community should expect to see more motivational speakers like Eric Greitens present a message. It should also expect to see more surveys and more stress placed on the pillars the community needs to work on most. Remember though, Character Counts has not been instituted to fix people. Its goal is to improve individuals’ morals so that the community as a whole can also improve.

Bylsma said, “research shows that there is a 14% increase in academic achievement when school culture is healthy.”