The Turlock Unified School District has been promoting positive values in students and faculty through the “Character Counts” program, instituted in 2009. Now, the school district is partnering with the Turlock Police Department to stress the importance of the “Six Pillars of Character” — trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship — throughout the community.
In late 2009, as part of their Strategic Plan, the Turlock Unified School District began researching a method wherein they could reinforce and assess the character traits necessary for students to become self-motivated, responsible citizens in the community. Through lengthy research their staff agreed to utilize a nationally recognized program that was created in 1992 by the Josephson Institute entitled “Character Counts!”
TUSD has been using this program to motivate faculty and students throughout the district and has reported positive feedback from all involved in the program. However, in late 2010, TUSD staff realized that in order for the program to become truly effective, their efforts needed to extend beyond the classrooms and into the community.
In early 2011, TUSD Superintendent Sonny Da Marto and his staff made a presentation to the Turlock City Council and asked for help from city departments to expand the program.
“(Turlock Police) Chief Gary Hampton was one of the first community leaders I met in Turlock when I came here three years ago. Since that time we have been able to work together on many projects to improve the community and school district. ‘Character Counts’ is another one of those collaborations where we are working to make a community where visitors and residents might someday describe as ‘Turlock, the kindest community in the Valley,’” said Da Marto. “Police Chief Gary R. Hampton recognized the importance of such a program and realized that the values being taught to district personnel mirrored the values and personal code of conduct that have been set for his staff.”
Banners are now up in the community along Canal Drive in front of the Turlock School District office, along with posters in the classrooms. It is the vision of both Da Marto and Hampton that this program will continue to grow to other city departments and throughout the community.