The Transylvania Times -

Middle School Students Learn The Character Playbook


February 8, 2018

Courtesy photo

Brevard Middle School Students show Carolina Panther pride as part of the Character Playbook LIVE event in the fall.

Middle School students at Brevard Middle School and Brevard Academy are participating in Character Playbook curriculum this year.

Character PlaybookTM is the NFL and United Way's signature digital program that trains middle school students on how to cultivate and maintain healthy relationships, make good decisions and step in when they see questionable activity.

So far this year, 61 seventh grade students at Brevard Middle and 35 sixth grade students at Brevard Academy have participated in the program.

Those students are part of the more than 88,600 students in 1,003 schools have completed 300,600 modules of Character Playbook this academic year.

"We are really pleased that Character Playbook offers our Brevard Academy middle school students ways to apply good character and healthy relationship skills to their lives," said Ted Duncan, Brevard Academy director. "The students really enjoy the modules, which provide a good platform for further classroom discussion."

Saunders Grommesh, resource development director for United Way of Transylvania County, reports that both schools have been granted participation again for the 2018-2019 school year so another set of students may benefit from the NFL United Way Character Playbook.

"Character Playbook's emphasis on developing the whole child fits perfectly with one of our school improvement goals of social and emotional well-being," said Jeff Bailey, Brevard Middle School principal. "We are grateful that our seventh-grade students had the opportunity to participate in the program with the Carolina Panthers."

Last fall, the National Football League and United Way kicked off Year 2 of Character Playbook-the partnership's program that helps middle school students cultivate and maintain healthy relationships.

Character Playbook is provided free of charge to schools served by United Ways in all 32 NFL markets.

During the 2016-2017 school year, approximately 1,300 teachers helped students complete more than 150,000 hours of learning, which led to increased understanding of key social-emotional topics-a 41 percent increase based on pre-and post-assessment scores.

By the end of the program's first year:

•74 percent of students were more likely to believe they deserve to be treated with respect

•70 percent raised their expectations about how to treat others

•69 percent said the program helped them identify actions they can take to treat people with respect

•66 percent better defined the role they can play in resolving conflict

Building off the success of year one, the program will expand to 360 more schools this school year and introduced a new virtual classroom experience this past fall called Character Playbook LIVE.

This interactive event, hosted by NFL teams and United Ways, engages even more students in the important conversation of why character matters.

The data around social emotional learning is stronger than ever with a need that is growing every day.

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning's find that 83 percent of social-emotional learning (SEL) programs significantly improve academic performance.

Character PlaybookTM is addressing these issues head on and supporting students in building the skills they need to be successful contributors to their communities through improved communication skills, recognizing positive and negative influences, managing their emotions, resolving conflicts and stepping up for one another.

"I am extremely proud of United Way of Transylvania County's role in bringing Character Playbook to our middle school students," Grommesh said. "The program is a win-win-win for our youth and our entire community, in both the short-term and the long-term," offered Saunders Grommesh, Resource Development Director for United Way of Transylvania County.

Last fall, 40 NFL players from 27 NFL teams participated in 30 Character Playbook LIVE events with more than 6,500 students who virtually joined them from classrooms and auditoriums in groups ranging from 10 to 200 students.

The events garnered 271 media mentions with a potential reach of 20 million people.

To volunteer or financially support the United Way of Transylvania County, call (828) 883-8822, visit the office at 101 W. Jordan St., #4 (below PNC Bank in downtown Brevard), send US Mail to PO Box 53, Brevard, NC, 28712, or visit or


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