School where character building is part of curriculum

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by JAKE WHITTENBERG / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @jakewhittenberg

KING5.com

Posted on September 26, 2012 at 12:39 PM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 26 at 12:40 PM

Reading, writing, arithmetic and now … grit.

That’s part of the lesson plan for students at Kenmore Junior High School. Administrators are instilling a theme of “grit and perseverance” into students as a way of toughening them up to face real life challenges outside the classroom.

“Grit builds the character inside of you,” said Nancy Smith-Vela, Assistant Principal at Kenmore. “It can help you look through real lenses and not rose-colored lenses.”

Smith- Vela said the idea is to teach kids to face a problem head-on and learn to accept that life doesn’t always go your way. The school is including the lesson into the curriculum, but also utilizing a Prevention Intervention Specialist, using a grant from King County. The specialist is in school three days a week and doubles as a kind of life coach for kids who need some extra attention.

“They need to know how real life works,” says Rachel Houtman, Prevention Intervention Specialist. “You can tell there is a difference. The (students) are happier overall because they believe in themselves and they know they can do it.”

Being tough may also help in other areas. Some schools say they struggle to comply with federal mandates like “No Child Left Behind.” The grit and perseverance curriculum is expected to have an impact on students trying to achieve a higher standard.

By teaching the kids not to quit, Kenmore hopes the philosophy may be good for attendance, too.

“We are letting them experience the bumps and bruises in life,” says Smith- Vela. “Who doesn’t need that?”

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