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November 6, 2017

Campaigning for Character

Written By: Barbara Gruener
Originally Published On: November 2012
X Campaigning for Character

Campaigning for Character

It’s Election time again, the perfect opportunity to celebrate patriotism by exercising our civic right to vote and teaching our young citizens to do the same. Maybe you’ve already made your way to the polls to take advantage of early voting. It was extra special for our family because our eighteen-year-old son came along (like he’s done so many times before), but this time, he could actually complete a ballot and cast his vote.

Character Matters

I consider Americans blessed to live in a country where we have a voice. There are many places worldwide where citizens do not get to vote and consequently can’t enjoy the freedoms that come along with living in a democratic republic. But with that right comes a responsibility, a duty, to be an engaged citizen so we can make an informed decision. It means we must get out and vote and we must teach our children to vote. It also means we must respect our neighbor’s right to put a sign in the front yard or a bumper sticker on the car regardless of whether or not we agree with their candidate of choice. And it means that we must maintain the integrity of our system to avoid voter fraud. It’s against the law to buy or sell a vote; voter fraud is a felony.

Will your school family hold a mock election? What will your discussions with your students focus on? At our school, we’ll be asking the following question:  What character traits do you want to see in your candidate of choice?  We’ve made a bulletin board based on our Board-adopted values:  Our character candidate tells the truth. Our character candidate keeps his/her promises. Our character candidate has a positive attitude. Our character candidate has integrity. Our character candidate is a role model. What traits are important to you and your family in your elected officials and why?

What we permit, we promote. Are our current Presidential candidates role models of the character standards that we have for ourselves and that we are holding our students to? Do we allow name calling, for example? These traits aren’t just words that we talk about; they’re values that we embrace and behaviors that we put into action. What a wonderful opportunity election-time is to throw these questions out there and open up dialogue with our future voters and leaders about their hopes and dreams for our country.  If we avoid these courageous conversations, we risk becoming complacent. We cannot stress enough how important a character candidate is to a campaign and how much our vote counts, how much every vote counts. Encourage all parents to take their children along with them to the polls and involve them in the process, for one day it’ll be they who are electing our leaders of character.


About the Author

A bilingual educator who was raised on her family’s farm in Wisconsin, Barbara Gruener has been the counselor and character coach at Westwood-Bales Elementary School in Friendswood, Texas for the past ten years. She’s also a motivational speaker and loves to influence and impact workshop participants in her signature Sing, Dance, Laugh and Build Character sessions. When she’s not at school, Barbara likes to write, read, knit, bake, and spend time with family and friends.  Check out Barbara’s uplifting blog, Corner on Character, to read her inspirational stories about positive people and elevating experiences.



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  • Lezlee D
    November 11, 2012

    Great idea! I love the connection between the election and character! Thanks for sharing!!

  • Nicholle
    November 8, 2012

    I teach math, but we still put a huge focus on the election this week. I hung a huge electoral map and all of our work was focused around the math of the election: campaign budgets, electoral votes, etc. When election day came, I held a mock election, but in order to ensure that my students were acting as well-informed voters, I asked them to tell me WHY they were voting for their candidate of choice. It turns out that middle schoolers have some pretty deep insight when they’re given the opportunity! They were very concerned with which social programs each candidate supported, how each candidate would address the economy, and how each candidate treated women and minorities.

  • Barbara
    November 6, 2012

    Hey Colleen,

    Thanks for your honest feedback. Actually what prompted this post was a first-grade boy who stopped me in front of an Election bulletin board and asked me to please take down one of the candidate’s pictures. He told me (in NO uncertain terms) that “everything that comes out of that man’s mouth is a lie.” Then he went on to ask “how can you put that picture up in our character school?” It was such a perfect teachable moment because I was able to explain to this little citizen that the beauty of living in America is that we get to have a voice and that we have the right to vote for the candidate who stands for what we believe in. I told him I was pleased that honesty, trustworthiness and integrity were important to him in a candidate. It’s hard, I know.

  • Colleen
    November 5, 2012

    Talking about the election with 4th graders is difficult. They have heard what their parents have said, and many don’t have all the facts. It’s hard to talk about character, when such negativity exists and is seen multiple times on a daily basis.

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