Tulsa - City of Character

Friday, April 6th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

What does "character" mean to you, and how do you know if you possess it? The City of Tulsa announced a new initiative, to promote character citywide. KOTV's Tami Marler took a look at one successful character program.

Cooper Elementary School in East Tulsa has been practicing character development all year. It's a lesson we're all about to get a chance to learn. "This is the one that's forgiveness. I like that you chose the word forgiveness." Cooper principal Janet Bassett is practicing what she preaches every day. Pointing out specific character traits that make a positive impact on others." What are you showing right now in terms of character? Respect, right. That's a big one here isn't it. And you know what? You showed caring and kindness when you gave me this."

Bassett says the program, called ABC's, for Attitude, Behavior and Character, is helping to teach her students skills for life. "I see students trying to do the right thing more. We talk a lot about 'what would've been the right thing to do?' And they're starting to recognize that more."3rd grader at the school, AJ Sheikh, "No one likes a bratty grown-up. That's how it'll help me mostly. That's what I think." Sheikh says his parents even notice a difference. "I started making my bed more times; I started uh helping out with the dishes. I don't talk too much anymore. No one likes an annoying person either."

So what if you could take those principles and teach them to an entire community? That's what officials are hoping will happen now that Tulsa is a City of Character. The international association of character cities will provide training and resources to families, churches, businesses, and other groups. Tulsa Mayor Susan Savage, "There are materials and resources provided that tell us and help guide us on how we can infuse character into all the different sectors in the community. The population is both aging and growing younger. And it's certainly growing more diverse. A whole array of different faith traditions in our community, and while that adds a richness, oftentimes it can create challenges." But there's proof at Cooper Elementary that diversity doesn't have to be a problem. Bassett says, "Sometimes you act one way some place and another way someplace else; but when we're together in a specific environment, then this is the way we have to show respect."

Bassett says detentions and suspensions have declined 20% to 30% since students started learning about character. City officials are hoping to see improvements in the crime rate, economy, and productivity.