Inspiration Charms Students At Wish Elementary School
October 31, 2005
By RACHEL GOTTLIEB, Courant Staff Writer
Malik Gary is the champ at Wish Elementary School when it comes
to finding the colorful charms the school's art teacher hides
around the building.
Ask him about his cache, and Malik reaches into his pants pocket.
It takes two hands to hold all 24 of the charms he's collected.
In brilliant shades - green, blue, orange, pink, yellow and green
- and in myriad shapes - stars, circles, squares and cylinders
- the little pieces dazzle. Youngsters are thrilled if they
find a charm, and many bring them promptly to art teacher Carolyn
Lyman so she can string them up as a necklace.
But what teachers and parents treasure about the charms is the
opportunity to talk about the message written on each one.
"Share," one reads. "Take
turns, play fair, honesty, forgive others, be kind, be loyal,
respect others, be accountable, self-discipline ..."
Lyman came up with the idea of the charms as her artistic contribution
to the school's character education curriculum. She uses a waterproof
Sharpie to write on the small charms.
"I'm drawing on the beads day and night," she
said. Even at the dinner table, she said, she alternates taking
a bite and writing on a charm.
"I thought the sixth-graders would be blase about it because
they're just too cool. But they love them," Lyman said.
While Lyman is stringing the charms, she chats with the students
about the meaning of the words. One student, sixth-grader Hector
Rodriguez, exhibited one of the traits - sharing - when he brought
his friend, fellow sixth-grader Miguel Figueroa, with him and
offered him a charm so Miguel could get a necklace, too.
Hector's charm read "self-discipline."
So what does that mean? Lyman wanted to know.
"It means self-control," Miguel said, prompting his
friend. "I try to be in self-control," Miguel added.
The charms have become so popular with students that the school
has distributed baggies of blank charms to parent volunteers
and to classroom teachers so they can reward children who demonstrate
good character, said Principal Lynne Lanier.
"It's a wonderful complement to our character education
initiatives," Lanier said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at