‘Real-life val­ues’

Jackie Robin­son a role model at Amity Mid­dle School

New Haven Register (New Haven, CT) - - FRONT PAGE - By Pam McLough­lin

ORANGE — Amity Mid­dle School is cel­e­brat­ing the 10th year of stu­dents learn­ing val­ues through the ex­am­ple set by Jackie Robin­son, the first African-Amer­i­can base­ball player to break the color bar­rier in Ma­jor League Base­ball.

Those val­ues — all of which helped Robin­son break that bar­rier — are: courage, de­ter­mi­na­tion, team­work, per­sis­tence, in­tegrity, cit­i­zen­ship, jus­tice, com­mit­ment and ex­cel­lence.

“For me, the kids have to learn math and English, but char­ac­ter is re­ally as im­por­tant in life

“The kids have to learn math and English, but char­ac­ter is re­ally as im­por­tant in life as know­ing the War of 1812.”

— Bob­bie Miller, guid­ance

coun­selor

as know­ing the War of 1812,” said long­time guid­ance coun­selor Bob­bie Miller. “We also need to train them to be­come the peo­ple we want them to be.”

The char­ac­ter ed­u­ca­tion was crafted and honed through the years

by the mid­dle school staff from the spirit of the book “Jackie’s Nine,” writ­ten by Robin­son’s daugh­ter, Sharon Robin­son. The book fea­tures real-life sto­ries from Jackie Robin­son and oth­ers who em­body those qual­i­ties, in­clud­ing the late ac­tor Christo­pher Reeve, who be­came par­a­lyzed af­ter a horse­back rid­ing ac­ci­dent.

Jackie Robin­son was the first black player in­ducted into the Na­tional Base­ball Hall of Fame.

School psy­chol­o­gist Eric Bacik made the sug­ges­tion to cre­ate a frame­work from the book and the staff has made it blos­som by hold­ing school assem­blies, weav­ing char­ac­ter into aca­demic lessons, bring­ing in speak­ers who ex­em­plify the qual­i­ties, and hon­or­ing four stu­dents from sev­enth and eighth grade who ex­em­plify the qual­ity be­ing ad­dressed that month.

School Prin­ci­pal Kathy Burke said she loves that it has be­come part of the cul­ture of the school and has built a pos­i­tive school at­mos­phere. She said stu­dents who get the recog­ni­tion are “of­ten sur­prised.” Re­cip­i­ents are rec­om­mended and cho­sen by staff af­ter lots of meeting dis­cus­sions and thought.

Eighth-grader Emma Kirck, 13, said she was de­lighted to be among those cho­sen for the first recog­ni­tion cat­e­gory of the school year — team­work.

“I think it’s im­por­tant be­cause it re­lated to re­al­life val­ues,” she said. “I think the school in­stilled these traits in us the minute we came in the build­ing.”

Zoe May and Cassidy Smith, also eighth-graders and 13, think they got a boost for the cer­tifi­cate for help­ing sep­a­rate friends who had in­juries get around by car­ry­ing books, lunch boxes and some­times back­packs. Zoe even did some tu­tor­ing to help her in­jured friend catch up on math.

“I felt proud of my­self,” Cassidy said of re­ceiv­ing the honor.

The other eighth-grade stu­dent to re­ceive the award was Jesse Palermo, 13, who said he likes that stu­dents are learn­ing such val­ues at a young age.

Sev­enth-grade stu­dents who re­ceived the award cer­tifi­cate for team­work re­cently were: An­thony Lu­cibello, Michael Cortes, Erin Cal­la­han and Devin Maroney.

Vicki Fielosh, spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion teacher and re­source team mem­ber, said Amity de­vel­oped its char­ac­ter ed­u­ca­tion plan based on Robin­son long be­fore he be­came a pop­u­lar name with this gen­er­a­tion through the movie “42.” Stu­dents have seen the movie through the years.

Fielosh said Robin­son was not the best AfricanAmer­i­can base­ball player of his time, but he was cho­sen to break the color bar­rier be­cause of his char­ac­ter. She said stu­dents are told of the racial hur­dles Robin­son faced at the time.

As part of the char­ac­ter ed­u­ca­tion that is con­stantly evolv­ing, speak­ers are brought in through­out the year. For ex­am­ple, stu­dents have heard from alumni, in­clud­ing a mil­i­tary cap­tain, BMX team mem­bers, can­cer sur­vivors, am­putees and ath­letes.

“The kids ben­e­fit from sto­ries of all walks of life,” Fielosh said. “Everyone had these traits within them and the abil­ity (to have them emerge).”

Arnold Gold / Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia

From left, Amity Mid­dle School eighth-graders Jesse Palermo, Zoe May, Emma Kirck and Cassidy Smith, pho­tographed at the school in Orange, were hon­ored for their team­work at school.

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