Distinctive qualities, distinguishing features and moral excellence are just some of the ways to define character, according to the Merriam- Webster’s Dictionary and Thesaurus.
Those are the exact words that describe the HPE 2590 Character Education class that is offered at Shorter. The purpose of this class is “to encourage young people to seek a life of purpose, substance and significance grounded in faith, perseverance and self-control.”
Employee Richard Ivan Johnson mainly teaches the class. Johnson is the father of Brad Johnson, former NFL quarterback who helped the Tampa Bay Buccaneers win Super Bowl XXXVII. He also helped establish the Winshape Camp located on the Berry College campus.
Johnson was inspired to teach this class because it was an opportunity to do something he really loved to do after he retired from Winshape.
“This class allows me to continue with my life purpose: to encourage students to discover their skills and gifts. They are developing their character, and becoming passionate to not only make a living, but to make a life. Shorter University is the perfect place for me to be able to do such a thing.”
Every semester, the class goes on at least three field trips. On Feb. 23, students participated in the ropes course, a zip line offered at Winshape and on Feb. 28 they visited the home of Nolan Robinson, former vice president of Chick- fil-A. The last field trip planned is to visit the Chick-fil-A headquarters and hopefully the City of Refuge, a homeless shelter in Atlanta, on April. 3.
Ashley Lee, freshman pre- nursing major, has enjoyed all the field trips so far.
“I have enjoyed the trips so much. I feel that I have had some eye-opening experiences. Winshape was my favorite– I love the zip line!”
Character Education has five goals that students should gain after taking this course: awareness, appreciation, importance, commitment and practice. These goals are accomplished by going on the field trips, writing reflections and having guest speakers speak to the class.
Leslie N. James, sophomore pre-nursing major, already has lessons that she will take with her after finishing the course.
“Trials and tribulations happen to everyone through life. Having faith, hope and perseverance with the support of your family and friends will help you overcome it,” said James. “I hold myself accountable for the decisions I make. It is up to me how hard I work toward my goals.”
That is exactly what Johnson wants his students to get out of the class.
“I hope the students taking the class will be encouraged to take their character as seriously as they do their academics, their sports and their social life because it is going to take a lot of it to get where they want to go in life and remain there,” said Johnson. “And most of all, to grasp the concept of happiness with whatever they do in life, that they may do it in ways that glorify the Lord.”
Johnson began teaching this class in the spring of 2008. Ever since, more students are taking this course.
CJ Arnold, sophomore business major, took the course because he heard several great things about the curriculum and Johnson’s passion.
“Character defines who we are, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to take this class.”
Character Education is a two credit course. Johnson advises that athletes who play in the fall take the course in the spring and vice versa.