The marvelous Character Development Program of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation has been slowly introduced into the curricula of middle schools and high schools around America. This program is about to make a major leap forward through the use of webinars and a DVD giveaway program. Let me explain.
SIX YEARS AGO, THE board of directors of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation made an important decision. This board, whose members consist of recipients as well as nonrecipients of the Medal of Honor, is committed to preserving the legacy of the Medal of Honor. The first major project of this foundation (established 15 years ago) was the publication of the book Medal of Honor. Now in its third edition, Medal of Honor contains vignettes on our living recipients. This large, coffee-table sized book has passed the 330,000 mark.
The second major project of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation is the Character Development Program. It is focused on high schools and middle schools. In America there are more than 200,000 teachers in the fields of social studies, history and language arts. To reach out to these teachers, a two-track system has been established. One track is to assemble teachers in groups of 50 or more and to present them with a six-hour workshop. Leading these sessions are experienced teachers with a deep knowledge of this program. Participating in most of these workshops is a Medal of Honor recipient. This approach has worked extremely well for more than two years and will continue through 2014 and beyond.
The second approach is the use of long-distance learning using the Internet. A teacher conducts a session of about one hour. The session is streamed out to hundreds of teachers who are sitting in their offices, at home or in conference rooms at their schools. Those participants who provide their home address will receive, in the mail, a compact package consisting of three discs.
Those teachers also will receive constructive credit that can, in most school systems, become part of their annual requirement for teacher continuing education. The beauty of this approach is that a very large number of teachers can receive this three-part program – perhaps, by 2015, as many as 20,000 per year.
ANOTHER POSITIVE aspect of the webinar approach is that it is quite inexpensive. Counting everything, it will cost the foundation less than $100 per trained individual.
A third positive factor is that it makes it easy for nontraditional teachers to participate: parents who home-school their children, Boy Scout troop leaders, Junior ROTC instructors and military training instructors.
OK. So how do you sign up if you want to participate in this very first webinar? It is quite easy. Go to the website www.edWeb.com. You will be asked to register. You will be required to list an organization, with an education mission, with which you are affiliated.
It does not have to be a school. It can be a church, a museum, a military unit, a corporation or a nonprofit. You do not have to be active as a teacher in that organization. I signed up as a member of the board of the Augusta Museum of History, but I could have signed up as a member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, or a board member of the Augusta Warrior Project.
The first session is scheduled for 4 p.m. Jan. 30. All of this is free – no charge for the webinar or for the DVD kit. The first session already has more than 311 preregistered participants. By next Thursday, that number probably will pass the 400 mark.
THE FUTURE OF THE youth of America is in our hands. If we can help young people find positive role models from whom they can learn important life lessons, we will all be well-served. Please remember the people who are highlighted in this program are not just military men – this program also highlights civilians who have accomplished very special things in their lives.
Please give this webinar a try. I will join the session from my home here in Augusta. I plan to ask questions that will be answered during or shortly after the session.
(The writer is is the secretary of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation. His website is genpsmith.com. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.)