New social-emotional curriculum to be implemented next school year

USD 497 School Board votes in favor of new curriculum, ‘Character Strong’


By Rhubarb Brubacher, Reporter

After being first introduced at Lawrence Virtual School this past year, the school board voted in favor of implementing a new social-emotional curriculum throughout the district, including three new programs between grades K-12. 

Character Strong, the curricular tool set to be used in the high schools, provides an updated set of materials from programs of the past and, according to Rachelle Christie, English teacher and pilot of  the curriculum, will be a refreshing change for LHS. 

“Connect With Kids was the one that we had before. It was pretty outdated. some of the lessons were even kind of borderline offensive in some ways,” Christie said. “This one, it’s, it’s updated, it’s current. It’s not cheesy or anything like that, and it kind of addresses some of the issues that kids are facing right now.”

Human Growth and Development teacher Erik Peltzman agreed that older programs were in need of replacement, noting that they could tend to be elementary. 

“Older students will make jokes or just not take the conversation seriously,” Peltzman said.

The Character Strong program, along with its elementary and middle school counterparts, was selected through data collection to assess some of the district’s most prevalent needs. 

“The most important thing is we listen to the student community and their needs,” said Stephanie Scarbrough, health teacher and Character Strong pilot alongside Christie.  

“Inclusion and unity are a constant conversation in most high schools,” Peltzman said. “We currently are dealing with some unity issues and possibly this new curriculum can help address that issue as well.”

This issue was also noted by Scarbrough, who also referenced the improvement she’s seen in LHS unity as a result of the recent Chesty’s House campaign. 

“This program centers on building community while highlighting the importance of individuality,” Scarbrough said, “My hope is the Character Strong will create consistencies in action and conversation between all classes. Having a common dialogue throughout the school will reinforce the feeling of community.”