Character Counts unveils new logo, honors volunteers
EASTON — It was a celebration of some of this community’s biggest characters during the annual Character Counts Mid Shore Appreciation dinner on June 11 at the Milestone.
Volunteers, students, law enforcement and corporate donors were honored during the event for their participation in the Character Counts program.
Character Counts Mid-Shore Executive Director Susan Luby acted as emcee for the evening and spoke about the impact the character coaches have on the children they work with.
“This evening is about so many people, but it’s
really about our character coaches,” she said. “There is a poem written by Linda Ellis called ‘The Dash,’ about the year we take our first breath, the year we take our last and the dash in between those years.”
Luby said what matters in life is what happens during a person’s lifetime. She said making a difference in someone’s life is what really matters.
“Making a difference means so much to different people,” Luby said. “To you character coaches, what you do during those dashes is the most significant.”
Throughout the evening, there were several awards and recognitions given out. Del. Johnny Mautz, R-37BTalbot, and Sen. Addie Eckhardt, R-37-Mid-Shore, gave official citations to several board members and volunteers.
The winners of the CCMS Laws of Life essay contest also were recognized.
CCMS has been sponsoring the contest, which was founded by the late Sir John Templeton, since 2000. Students in middle and high school language arts and English classes submit essays about how they apply one or more of the six pillars of character in their life.
“Every fall, we ask language arts and English teachers to introduce the Laws of Life essay contest to their students,” Luby said. “Not only is this an opportunity for students to practice their writing ability, they also have a chance to have a voice and share with us how they are using character in their life.”
Luby said more than 900 essays were submitted, read twice and scored. The numbers were tallied, and the winning essay from each school was announced earlier this spring. From those winners, three were chosen for additional honors. The best overall essay is given the Albert Kennerly Scholarship award of $2,500, and this year that award went to Cambridge-South Dorchester High School senior Daniel Garcia.
The winner of the overall middle school essay was St. Michaels Middle High School sixth-grader Maxine Poe-Jensen. The winner of the overall high school essay was North Dorchester High School junior Seth Talley. All three winners were invited to read their essays during the presentation.
Two longtime character coaches were honored with the Mr. Fred Rogers Award. Bob Hyman is the character coach for the entire third grade in Talbot County, and Jeff Webb coaches all the students at Vienna Elementary, from pre-k to fifth grade. Hyman and Webb were given official citations from Mautz and Eckhardt. The award came with a certificate and a cardigan sweater with the newly unveiled Character Counts logo on it.
“As a coach, you give time — time, the most precious resource of our life. Once you give an hour, that hour is gone forever and you don’t get it back. Your time as a volunteer must be valued, but we can’t put a value on time,” Luby said. “How can you value something that’s precious and priceless? As a character coach, you bring much to this organization — skills, advice, experience, friendship, vision, leadership and inspiration.”
Two other students involved with the Character Counts program also spoke about their experiences during the school year. Easton High School juniors Katie Allen and Lucas Joshi spent the school year working with first-grade students at Easton Elementary–Dobson in Charlene DeShields’ class.
“As a student of Talbot County Public Schools all my life, I’ve had the privilege of par ticipating in Character Counts for 13 years,” Katie said. “I say privilege because this program is such an uplifting network of lessons on six essential pillars. Over the years, I’ve truly learned how lessons on being responsible, trustworthy and respectful have shaped me into the person I am today.”
In addition to the awards, CCMS unveiled its new logo, which was designed in part by Deutsch.
The evening wrapped up with honors for the corporate sponsors that help fund the Character Counts program throughout the school year. Luby said the program relies on fundraising, grants and donations, and receives no funding from the schools.
“You choose to donate the most precious commodity in the known universe. We may count your time in numbers; we may attempt to count your time in cash value. We realize the giving of your time is simply magnificent,” Luby said. “This evening, we take time out to thank you for the amazing time in that you give.”
PHOTOS BY BRENDA FISHER Easton High School student character coaches Katie Allen, left, and Lucas Joshi, right, pose with Easton Elementary-Dobson firstgrade teacher Charlene DeShields. Allen and Joshi mentored the students in DeShields’ class during the school year.
Character Counts Mid Shore honored Jeff Webb, center left, and Bob Hyman, center right, for their work as character coaches during the CCMS Appreciation dinner on June 11. Also pictured: Del. Johnny Mautz, R-37B-Talbot, left, and Sen. Addie Eckhardt, R-37-Mid-Shore, right.
PHOTOS BY BRENDA FISHER From left: CCMS Board Vice-President Laura Heikes, Dorchester County School Superintendent Diana Mitchell, CCMS Laws of Life essay winner Daniel Garcia, Cambridge-South Dorchester High School teacher Heidi Cohoon and CCMS Development Associate Josh Deutsch.