In Rome, New York, a small group of students in an afterschool club made a big impression on me. As I entered the room to speak with the supervisors, one of the boys in the group hugged me and thanked me for coming. At that moment I realized what a bright future those children have.
The city’s school district strives to challenge and inspire each child to be exceptional students as well as exceptional people, and one of their clubs, “The God Squad,” is a perfect example of their success.
At Denti Elementary, the staff aims to teach their students to become valuable members of the community and encourages them to be life-long learners as well as extraordinary citizens.
The school’s staff believes in working with the “whole child.” Attention is not only paid to academics but also character traits. The school boasts what is called The Character Education Initiative, which focuses on teaching a different character trait each month. In February, for example, all students are learning about responsibility.
In today’s society, it is imperative that our students be taught how to develop a positive character, and Denti’s club is finding inspiring ways to do just that.
The club was founded in 2010 and is overseen by Ruth Baker, a reading teacher, Kathy Reese, a retired teacher, and Eileen Banks, a teacher’s assistant. The club is for third and fourth grade students and meets Wednesdays after school. The children learn verses from the Bible, lessons about moral law, and how to develop a good character. Character traits like honesty, perseverance, courage, and respect are discussed, which all can be found in the Bible and are traits needed as a child enters adolescence.
The group, consisting of 25 students this year, starts their meeting with a snack and a prayer. Games are played and lessons are gone over regarding treating others the way you would want to be treated as well as being generous and having a forgiving spirit. Another topic discussed that is of great importance and also stems from the Bible is tolerance. Whether racial, cultural, or religious, our children need to know how to appreciate the differences in each other, and this club is teaching the kids just that.
These kids may not all be ours, but they are our future, and the future looks bright with clubs like “The God Squad” in our school systems.