2017-09-07 / News

Positivity reinforcement

2 Swartz Creek schools to implement character program
BY LANIA ROCHA
810-452-2652 • lrocha@mihomepaper.com


Morrish Elementary School Principal Michele Corbat, left, assembled her staff for a scavenger hunt for the 24 character traits identified in the Positivity Project. Some of the scavengers were, (standing, from left) Lori Stafford, Becky Trent and Elisabeth Wasson, and (seated) Stephanie Sorter, Kristy Beckwith and Barbie Wykes. 
Photo by Lania Rocha Morrish Elementary School Principal Michele Corbat, left, assembled her staff for a scavenger hunt for the 24 character traits identified in the Positivity Project. Some of the scavengers were, (standing, from left) Lori Stafford, Becky Trent and Elisabeth Wasson, and (seated) Stephanie Sorter, Kristy Beckwith and Barbie Wykes. Photo by Lania Rocha MUNDY TOWNSHIP and CLAYTON TOWNSHIP – Dressed in matching green T-shirts with a P2 emblem, teachers from Morrish Elementary School conducted a scavenger hunt in the Swartz Creek area Thursday, Aug. 31.

But rather than scavenging for old shoes or marbles or other do-dads, they were on the hunt for character traits, 24 to be exact.

“In our society, studies show there is an increase in narcissism and a decrease in empathy,” said Morrish Principal Michele Corbat. “So, this year, Morrish and Dieck are implementing the Positivity Project. We want to teach our children that some people are stronger in some traits than others, so they can see the value in themselves and others, and become more empathetic.”

The Positivity Project is a non-profit organization founded by two West Point graduates, Mike Erwin and Jeff Bryan. After serving a combined five tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, Erwin and Bryan wanted to continue to serve their country, according to information posted on their website, posproject.org.

Inspired by University of Michigan professor Dr. Chris Peterson, a founder of positive psychology, Erwin and Bryan expanded on their mentor’s research and developed a program for teaching character in schools.

During the scavenger hunt, the teachers looked for examples of the 24 traits P2 teaches. They observed and interviewed people around town, and posted photos and videos on social media, using the hashtag #otherpeoplematter.

“They stopped at the fire station and talked to Chief (Brent) Cole about bravery,” said Corbat. “They went to Gilroy’s and talked to Craig (Culinski) about humor.”

The teachers visited the state police Flint Post, the Perkins Library, the American Legion, area businesses, the Child Development Center and churches in search of examples of bravery, perseverance, integrity, enthusiasm, love, kindness, social intelligence, appreciation of beauty and excellence, gratitude, hope and optimism, humor, connection and purpose, self-control, prudence, humility and modesty, forgiveness, leadership, fairness, teamwork and citizenship, perspective, love of learning, open-mindedness, curiosity and creativity.

“About every two weeks, the students will learn a new word and we’ll use it in the classroom,” said third-grade teacher Becky Trent.

“And every month, we’ll pick kids who exemplify certain traits and post their pictures on the wall,” added Barbie Wykes, fifth-grade teacher.

Trent said that a benefit of the Positivity Project is the awareness that “we all have different strengths.”

“And it’s OK not to excel at all of them,” said kindergarten teacher Stephanie Sorter.

Corbat said she hopes to make the mission of the Positivity Project a reality for the families she serves at Morrish.

“The mission is to empower America’s youth to build strong relationships, and to understand, appreciate and exemplify the character strengths in us all,” she said.

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