While many people associate the name Horace Mann with a large insurance company, the truth is that Horace Mann was a civil servant who dedicated his life to promoting and reforming public education in the 1800s. To quote historian Ellwood Cubberly, “No one did more than he (Mann) to establish in the minds of the American people the conception that education should be universal, non-sectarian, free, and that its aims should be social efficiency, civic virtue, and character, rather than mere learning or the advancement of education ends.”
When you look at that statement, Horace Mann clearly believed there was more to learning than basic knowledge from a book. He clearly emphasized civic virtue and character. At Coweta Charter Academy, we have several civic-minded opportunities where our children can support others in their community or host fundraisers to raise money for community outreach programs. The first example is collecting canned food to support our local partner, I-58 Mission. Last year we collected several pickup truck loads of canned goods and our students were so proud of themselves for their accomplishment! The second opportunity that our students participate in is Hoops for Hearts. Over the past several years Coweta Charter Academy has been the leader in the county and the state for their efforts to raise several thousands of dollars to support individuals by providing a financial boost to the American Heart Association which goes toward those with chronic heart conditions.
Horace Mann also focused on Character Education. Unfortunately, in today’s world, finding character qualities are hard to come by. Individuals in society no longer know how to debate or disagree on topics and yet still have respect for each other. At Coweta Charter Academy we focus on four fundamental words within our character education: Purpose, Passion, Integrity and Grit. While the purpose and passion can be considered more “philosophical,” Integrity is about making the right choices and doing the right thing. As I tell the middle schools students, “Be at the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing.” That sums up every rule and expectation in the CCAS student handbook. And then there is Grit. There are many times in life that we must accomplish tasks that we don’t want to accomplish but it is a necessity. That’s when we must roll up our sleeves and get the work done or demonstrate “Grit.”
In closing, I would like to share a quote I recently heard from the CEO of Charter Schools USA, Jon Hage who stated, “We cannot control what other sections of society do or don’t do. We are responsible for what we do!” Currently, when our young people are exposed to so many things on social media, character education is more important now than ever before. Social Media cannot teach character education, so we must! Our children deserve it!