Building character builds classrooms, communities and careers

By Pam Bryant

For South Carolina to succeed in a global economy, all citizens must be prepared for productive careers. This is more difficult for some students who may have physical or mental disabilities, low scores on standardized tests, or no plans for education after high school.

To help these students succeed Clemson’s Youth Learning Institute has joined the S.C. Department of Education in a four-year initiative to teach character education skills that translate from classrooms to communities to careers. Called S.C. Teen LEAD (Teen Leaders Evolving And Developing), the initiative will train and empower 10th graders, called “character cadres,” to direct character development programs in their schools and communities.

Initially, school officials from seven school districts will nominate students, with plans for statewide involvement by year four. Selected students will participate in summer sessions developed by YLI to provide technical assistance and mentoring. The initiative is funded by a $2.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

For information: Pamela Ardern, 864-878-1041,