Lincoln-Way High School District 210 participated in a character education conference this week, sharing details of its T.E.A.M. Asset program with area educators.
“There’s greatness (in all children),” said Tim Reilly, director of instruction for District 210. “This program reminds them of that.”
Once a month, students at all four Lincoln-Way high schools learn about one of the 40 developmental assets that the Search Institute of Minneapolis has identified as helping students grow up to be healthy, caring and responsible adults.
One month, students may learn about the importance of having friends who model responsible behavior in their lives. Another month, they may learn about honesty and the importance of telling the truth even when it is not easy.
Each asset is expected to help students make wise decisions, choose positive paths and become responsible adults.
“The more of these (assets) that you have in your life, the more likely you are to be successful,” said Jeff Purdom, the Asset coordinator at Lincoln-Way West.
He joined Reilly and fellow District 210 Asset coordinators Matt Lawerence (Lincoln-Way North) and Dave Davidson (Lincoln-Way Central) at the University of St. Francis on Oct. 16 to share how the district’s program works with area educators.
Lincoln-Way East Asset Coordinator Liz Gerske was unable to attend the conference, but she sent examples of past Asset presentations for Reilly to share with the group.
The Character Counts Conference was organized by the Will County Coalition for Character Development and the University of St. Francis. District 210 was invited to lead one of the breakout sessions.
Reilly and Davidson began by offering some background information on the Asset program. They explained District 210 initiated the program in 2000 in response to the tragic shootings at Columbine High School.
Administrators teamed up with representatives from the religious community to find a program that would hopefully help prevent a similar tragedy here. Their research uncovered the Search Institute’s developmental asset tools.
As a result, students now receive a lesson each month about one of the 40 developmental assets during one of their advisory periods, which is similar to a study hall.
The goal is to discuss 10 assets each year, exposing students to all 40 assets by the time they graduate from high school.
The program has been well received by students, said Reilly.
“It resonates with the kids,” he said. “You would think high school kids would roll their eyes, but I have never been to a session where the kids were not locked in. It’s absolute magic.”
“The kids buy in to it,” agreed Lawrence, explaining how it has led to collection efforts for the needy and the formation of various clubs, including anti-bullying groups.
The community has bought into the program as well, forming a committee of leaders from the religious communities, park districts, grade school districts and service clubs that meet once a month to reinforce the 40 assets throughout the community.
Their goal is to make our community a better place to live, work and learn.
The committee, which is co-chaired by District 210 Superintendent Lawrence A. Wyllie and Pastor Dave Hedlin, organizes an annual Asset Celebration each spring, inviting families to enjoy a free pancake breakfast at Lincoln-Way East followed by a day of games and entertainment for children of all ages.
“It is important to all of us that our young people grow into productive citizens,” said Wyllie. “The Asset program is one way to help make that happen. I want to thank our entire community for supporting this program.”