Smart Character Choices began at CSA in the fall of 2002 when we were awarded a large grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Safe and Drug Free Schools office to develop, research, and refine an effective character education program.  We recognized a need for schools to play a vital role in deliberately and consistently teaching students positive character traits and in aligning the efforts of parents/family members collectively in that endeavor.

The foundations of Smart Character Choices are the six character traits:

  • Kindness: thinking and acting in ways that show you care
  • Optimism: expecting good things today and in the future
  • Getting Along: contributing to and gaining from positive relationships
  • Responsibility: choosing to act in a way that takes care of yourself and contributes to the common good
  • Respect: acting in a way that shows that I am valuable, you are valuable, and we as a group are valuable
  • Work Ethic: working hard and sustaining effort leading to feeling good about a job well done

Three components make Smart Character Choices unique from all other character education programs:

  • It embeds the character traits into the Smart Character Choices American History Curriculum rather than teaching them in isolation, such as the ‘trait of the month.’
  • It focuses on teaching both school-wide and classroom procedures and routines to students.
  • It includes teaching students social protocols e.g. manners and etiquette.

Procedures That Lead to Routines Teachers spend focused time at the beginning of each school year teaching their students specific classroom procedures and school-wide procedures. This important component to the program is essential to creating safe and orderly classrooms.

Social Protocols (manners and etiquette) The CSA District administration and the faculty spend time teaching social protocols to students. In the spirit of educating the “whole child,” we believe that all students should learn the basic manners and etiquette that are expected in today’s society.

Smart Character Choices American History Curriculum As a part of the project, American history lessons have been written for the elementary and secondary programs.  These lessons align with the Michigan Benchmarks and Standards for social studies content that are taught at each unit level. The lessons are designed for teachers to engage students in discussions related to how character played a part in the events in history or an individual’s life.

In addition to the discussion of character traits during the study of American history, teachers also focus on character traits connections during the study of literature.

Included in Smart Character Choices are all the components of a highly effective research-based bully prevention program.