In one of our recent seminars, one of our participants, Andy Camarda, principal of Lemon Road Elementary School in Fairfax County, Virginia, spoke about his school’s association with the Positivity Project. The Positivity Project is a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to empowering America’s youth to build strong relationships and to understand, appreciate, and exemplify the character strengths in us all. Students emerge with genuine self-confidence, greater appreciation for others, and stronger relationships by learning about the 24 positive character traits in all humans, regardless of culture, economics, or age. Inherit and deeply embedded in this work, is the idea that “other people matter” and students learn to think beyond themselves realizing the impact of their actions and words, supporting others when they struggle, believing that together we can achieve more, and cheering the successes of those around us. Therefore, the focus switches from solely academic achievement to relationships and purpose.
Each week, Lemon Road students learn about a particular character trait during their Morning Meeting. Some of the 24 universal traits include: gratitude, integrity, humility, kindness, zest, and optimism. Students discuss the traits with their classmates, identify ways to recognize them in others, and grow in their understanding of why exemplifying these traits is important. They appreciate the traits within themselves as well as their classmates. As a result, student relationships deepen with each other and with their teachers. They begin to say “Hey, John is demonstrating the trait of kindness just now” or “Annika is full of humor and zest!” In a recent curriculum night for families, parents and students were able to take the Values in Action character survey to identify their top character traits. They then set goals as families to develop a particular trait together. Again, switching the focus from accomplishments to relationships… from getting things done to being the person we want to be!