A Community Bringing Character to Light
By Michelle Bettencourt
As a mother of three trying to balance family life with a career, I set out two years ago to find the “perfect” job and I found it! I was hired by Central Valley School District
for the part-time Public Information Specialist position. “Perfect!” I would learn more each day about the school district that is educating my children, maintain an 18 hour work week that allows me to be with my kids when they are not at school, love what I do and even use my college degree in journalism. It was “Perfect!” Or so I thought…
Turns out, it must not have been “perfect,” because one month after I started my new job… it got even better!
Superintendent Ben Small asked me to get involved with a new Spokane Valley grassroots initiative called PACE (Partners Advancing Character Education
). When I learned the PACE initiative would aim to raise awareness of the importance of good character throughout our community, I was thrilled to get on board!
PACE launched in September 2010 with the start of the 2010-2011 school year with the support of 13 founding members representing schools, businesses, public agencies, residents, faith-based organizations and community service groups. Since then, the program has grown to 95 Partners and more than 60 participating schools!
The PACE initiative is best known by the reader board messages spreading the character trait of the month messages throughout the Spokane Valley area. The idea is to extend the importance of good character beyond the classroom and into local businesses, churches, residences and community meetings and events. Through these efforts, PACE aims to improve academic achievement, behaviors, parental involvement and quality of work force as character education is embedded into our schools and community culture.
According to the Character Education Partnership
, a national advocate and leader for the character education movement, where character education is a priority “pro-social behaviors such as cooperation, respect, and compassion are replacing negative behaviors such as violence, disrespect, apathy, and underachievement.”
The hard work and dedication to “bringing character to light” in the Valley has already led to many successes in one year. PACE…
• Published monthly enewsletter featuring partners and PACE activities, offering tips and resources to partnering organizations
Launched the PACE website at www.pacecommunity.org
to provide timely information and resources to partners, educators and parents
• Secured local media coverage with newspaper articles, TV news stories and monthly guest columns featuring the PACE Character Trait of the Month
• Enhanced character education curriculum available to educators and school counselors for lessons and classroom activities
• Developed a Character Champion program to provide volunteer character role-models to speak in school assemblies and classrooms
• Entered the social media world – Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
• Aired character trait TV commercials on KAYU FOX Spokane with the “Character to Light” TV Campaign
• Held monthly PACE meetings with dedicated community leaders, representing various types of organizations to support and advance the program and work to ensure sustainability of the PACE initiative
• Entered planning stages of the first annual PACE Awards Banquet to be held in May 2012. The dinner event will distinguish one student from each of the 60 partnering schools for exhibiting good character and feature a Keynote Speaker and PACE Partners and Sponsors for their generous contributions.
As a parent of three children, I am extremely grateful to have the support of an entire community behind my own efforts to instill good character in my children. I am a huge believer that “it takes a village to raise a child,” especially one with good character. Knowing that we as parents are not alone in a primary objective to develop “good” young adults, who will positively contribute to society, is both encouraging and reassuring.
Personally, I will remain forever grateful to live in this particular “village” during these important child raising years. The PACE program has changed my life and I am energized by the impact it will continue to have on our youth and our entire community.
To learn about how you might establish a program like PACE in your commity, visit their website at www.pacecommunity.org.
is a resident of Spokane Valley and the proud mother of three children (ages 4, 11 and 15.) She is the Public Information Specialist for Central Valley School District
and an active Board member of PACE (Partners Advancing Character Education.) She enjoys spending time with her family and being active in her children’s activities, including serving on the CVHS Band Boosters Board and being Team Manager for a Spokane Soccer Club premier soccer team.