2 Ala. leaders form The Hope Institute to help schools develop cultures of character for students

Published: May. 31, 2023 at 2:48 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Right now, your children’s schools are encouraged to spend 15 minutes on character education.

Two powerhouse leaders in Alabama say it’s not enough, and they are leading a movement that’s spreading across Alabama.

“Fifteen minutes a day is not how character is developed, in fact 15 minutes a day doesn’t get any job done, with respect to the trait of strong character,” said Drayton Nabers, former Chief Justice of Alabama Supreme Court.

Nabers has teamed up with Liz Huntley - lawyer, child advocate and author - to form The Hope Institute, which they’re calling a movement to help schools in our state develop cultures of character for students.

“Our schools are struggling at this point. We believe that the development of a culture that generates character is a good indicator of academic success,” said Nabers.

“We are not just talking about hanging up some posters and recite and memorize character terms. We’ve been doing that for decades - that’s not what we’re talking about - we’re talking about the kind of character development in children that becomes intrinsic, that becomes part of who they are,” said Huntley.

“We serve over 150 schools to date since we started six years ago. We’re in more than 20 counties in Alabama from as far north as Florence, Alabama, and south as Foley, Alabama,” Huntley said.

Most of them are in Jefferson, Tuscaloosa, Cullman and Shelby counties. In some cases, discipline referrals dropped 50-60 percent.

The Hope Institute's Alabama impact.
The Hope Institute's Alabama impact.(Source: The Hope Institute)

There are 11 principles which teachers can adapt to fit their school needs, including number four, creating a community.

Huntley says it was so vital to her as a child. In her book “More Than a Bird” she writes about profound sexual, physical and verbal abuse she endured at home, and how her teachers created a refuge at school.

“During the most critical times when all of the intense trauma happened in my life, in my childhood, it was really the school that was there,” Huntley said.

The Hope Institute acknowledges a void, and children who may not see good examples of character otherwise.

“Where are they going to learn character? Where are they going to develop values? On TikTok or Instagram? We want to make sure we are doing everything we can to make sure good character and good values are being cultivated in these young people,” Huntley continued.

Huntley says more than 30 of the 170 schools have won national awards or are designated as national schools of character.

Information on how to get your school involved can be found at this link.

Below is the QR code that leads to The Hope Leadership Academy registration page:

QR code that leads to Hope Leadership Academy registration page.
QR code that leads to Hope Leadership Academy registration page.(Source: The Hope Institute)

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