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Saint Mary’s University recently received a $1.7 million grant to help future educators learn strong character and virtues that will enable them to have successful careers after graduation.

The grant, a total of $1,732,643 awarded by the Kern Family Foundation, will help the school teach important virtues in “an even more robust way and really make a big impact in school today,” according to Lynn Albee, Ed.D., interim dean of education at SMU.

“We really want to have an opportunity to reach the principals and the folks at the top of the school,” Albee said. She said the focus is on different types of schools also, whatever grades they may include.

“They have a big responsibility to make a positive difference in their schools,” Albee said.

Focusing on those that will lead the way for the schools with the Character and Virtue Initiative, the goal of the new adjusted course content for these students “places a strong emphasis on moral character, virtue and ethics,” according to SMU.

The material covered to help enable this learning will be based on the framework of the University of Birmingham’s Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtue.

This learning will not just stop in the classroom, though, as the School of Education at SMU is also looking to take a summer retreat and to hold forums, where current education leaders will be invited to work on the taught characteristics and values.

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For the students in the classrooms, Albee says they can expect to work with real case studies, learning from other situations that have occurred where educators may have seen negative responses to their behaviors.

The students will have the chance to discuss and learn from what happened in the situations studied.

Albee said the students really are enabled to learn these key lessons together in this program, as normally the students take classes with the same group of peers.

“It’s really a community of learners that go and travel through the program together,” Albee said. She said they are able to support and rely on each other.

She said that she looks forward to the future as SMU uses this grant. She said she’s excited to see how they are able to help students connect with schools and educators.

For more information about SMU and its opportunities, visit www.smumn.edu.

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