In 2017, the Challenge Charter community was introduced to a new version of the school’s mascot. Champ the Cheetah was no longer a 2-dimensional drawing, rather he had come to life as a puppet to visit the K-5 scholars on a regular basis teaching character curriculum at assemblies and special events.
With the start of the 2018 academic year, Project Character has grown to offer even more components. In addition to the monthly video featuring Champ and Principal Griffin as well as Parent Resources on our website, now teachers have lesson plans tailored to grade levels to help scholars understand the Word of the Month (WOM) as Responsibility, Citizenship and Kindness.
As Champ’s character began to take shape in 2017, CEO/Founder Dr. Mullings immediately saw the potential for offering a very unique way to approach teaching good character traits to students. Dr. Mullings worked with Steve Pennington and Senior Advisor, Michael Estep to develop Champ as a high-value investment in the lives of the scholars at Challenge Prep.
“We are always looking for ways to enhance learning. It shows up in the way we infuse technology into the classroom, the data-driven tailored learning we offer, our extra-curricular activities such as athletics and performing arts, and through our mascot Champ. We are dedicated to the whole child, and the development of Champ and Project Character shows how much we value raising great global citizens through our school,” said Dr. Mullings.
Pennington has been an educational entertainer and curriculum developer for more than 30 years. He is Champ’s biggest fan as the “man behind the puppet,” and this year, he is working more closely with scholars as they are featured in the monthly curriculum videos. The videos are a coordinated effort with K-5 administrators and the school’s Community Program Manager, Vicky Rosario.
“I am always amazed at the depth of understanding all of our scholars bring to the video shoots that we are doing. We are taping unscripted conversations with the scholars and they are so much fun. Champ and the scholars are discussing the meaning of the different character words. They get it and are right on cue with their responses. It’s terrific!” Pennington stated.
K-5 Principal, Nicole Griffin, has had plenty of up close and personal time with Champ during the WOM video shoots. In each video, she and Champ define the word and talk about what it looks like to live out that character trait in the context of CPCS. Principal Griffin has been pleased to see the success of Project Character over the past year.
“Challenge Prep is a very unique school in which we believe that education isn't only about learning subjects such as math, English, and science. A more comprehensive definition of education addresses the emotions, personality, and character as well. We adopted the approach of teaching good character traits to create a caring and supportive environment, to encourage scholars to develop morally and provide opportunities to grow morally and to promote core ethical and performance values to instill good character in scholars. From the fun, yet educational assemblies with Champ, our scholars have embraced this approach to learning,” said Griffin.
Parents are encouraged to visit our website for downloadable resources and the video for each WOM. Videos are also posted to our K-5 Facebook page. Families can benefit from utilizing the home activities and watching and discussing the videos with their scholar which reinforces good character and behaviors at home.
Champ’s live appearances will continue in assemblies throughout the school year.