What are your character strengths? Kindness? Creativity? Curiosity? Character strengths and virtues are the focus of the Positivity Project, a new social-emotional curriculum at Cairo-Durham Middle School.
The Positivity Project, or P2, is helping CDMS students develop self-awareness and positive relationships based on character. P2 is founded on the principles of positive psychology and aims to promote an “Other People Matter” mindset. (See the images at the bottom of this page to learn more about the "Other People Matter" mindset.)
A primary goal of P2 is to help students gain better understandings of themselves, so they can better understand and support others. Therefore, students and staff at CDMS discovered their top character traits through a brief survey. Following the survey, everyone at CDMS received their top character strengths to display. Teachers posted their character strengths on classroom doors and students have trait magnets for their lockers. (Discover your top character strengths by taking the free survey from VIA Institute on Character.)
Each week, a new character trait is the focus of a 12-minute lesson incorporated into a different class daily. That means by the end of each week, all CDMS students receive a 60-minute curriculum on that week’s featured trait. At the end of each month, everyone participates in a school-wide assembly to review that month’s curriculum.
In total, there are 24 character strengths and virtues grouped into six main categories:
- Bravery (Courage)
- Perseverance (Courage)
- Integrity (Courage)
- Enthusiasm (Courage)
- Love (Humanity)
- Kindness (Humanity)
- Social Intelligence (Humanity)
- Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence (Transcendence)
- Gratitude (Transcendence)
- Optimism (Transcendence)
- Humor (Transcendence)
- Purpose (Transcendence)
- Self-control (Temperance)
- Prudence (Temperance)
- Humility (Temperance)
- Forgiveness (Temperance)
- Leadership (Justice)
- Fairness (Justice)
- Teamwork (Justice)
- Perspective (Wisdom & Knowledge)
- Love of Learning (Wisdom & Knowledge)
- Open-mindedness (Wisdom & Knowledge)
- Curiosity (Wisdom & Knowledge)
- Creativity (Wisdom & Knowledge)
Since launching P2 on September 14th, staff and students have already noted improvements to the school climate. According to CDMS Principal, Mr. Mike Mitchell, students were immediately receptive to P2.
“P2 has added more positive energy to the school over the last few weeks,” said Mr. Mitchell. “We’ve already noticed more students interacting with classmates who they may not have spent time with before. We’re excited to see how the P2 program continues to unfold as we move through the curriculum each week.”
The co-founder of the Positivity Project, Jeff Bryan, visited CDMS on September 21, 2018, to speak with students about the new character curriculum. Many students asked questions and engaged in thoughtful conversation during his visit.
Cairo-Durham Middle School is one of approximately 430 schools across the country, and just a handful of schools in the Capital Region, that implements the P2 program.