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Rounding Out the School Year with Character Education

Students spend a large portion of their lives in a classroom, learning about math, history, english and other academic subjects. However, there are things in life that can’t be learned from a textbook, like character education and how to handle conflicts and relationships as students get older.


EverFi created the Character Playbook program in order for students to succeed both academically and socially. Providing character education and social and emotional learning in schools gives students a stronger sense of individual support, safety and school community. Through partnerships with United Way of Central Carolinas and the Carolina Panthers, EverFi has brought its Character Playbook to over 29,000 students in more than 300 schools in North and South Carolina.


Character Playbook begins with students being able to understand key concepts behind emotion, conflict, communication and bystander intervention. This knowledge sets the stage for them to improve their skills to build and maintain healthy relationships with others both inside and outside of the classroom.


By including bystander intervention in this program, students are encouraged to take action against bullying. Prior to taking the course, only 50% of students said they felt safe in their school community, 40% thought there was a good support system for students and 30% agreed that a peer would step in and help if a student was being treated poorly. After taking the course, more than half of participating students would try to stop a bully, help the victim and ask an adult for help if they saw another student being treated disrespectfully. This leads to better safety for students and their peers.


After understanding the key concepts, students are then able to act out true-to-life scenarios where they can relate to a character and explore their emotions and motivations. By practicing for these situations, students develop awareness around their own emotions and how they affect others, giving them time to slow down and consider these factors before a reaction. Being able to self-manage emotions helps students overcome challenges and make sound decisions, which is important as they grow and change through school.


The partnership with the NFL and the Carolina Panthers adds a special touch to the program by having players make appearances throughout the year to encourage students. The players stop by to cheer them on, give advice or share how they manage conflict in their own lives. 


“I would recommend this program to everyone because it is a great way to interact with the players and the students and actually see them in real time and have face-to-face contact and be able to answer hard questions and issues they have within the classroom and outside of the classroom,” said Jermaine Singletary, Middle and High School teacher at Academy for Success in South Carolina. 


“My students have benefitted well – I am going to use Character Playbook every year. It has a lot of interactive things that the kids can do, so you can go through a lot of different scenarios and activities with them,” said Singletary.


After completing the program, students’ assessment scores on understanding key concepts (emotion, conflict, communication and bystander intervention) increased by 44% and 57% more students felt it was easier to share their feelings with others.


Another aspect of Character Playbook is the Mental Wellness Basics program, which provides resources for students, teachers and parents to incorporate mental health education in the home and classroom. The goal is to destigmatize the topic of mental health, increase resilience in young people and empower students with the skills and resources that they need to support their own mental well-being as well as their peers’.


“It’s such useful information right now, being able to teach them how to manage their emotions and the social skills we don’t normally have the time to get to with having to teach them English standards. Seeing my students engage and want to learn about how to manage their emotions and how to interact with each other was very inspiring,” said Alyssa Gordon, middle school teacher from New Conover City Schools.


The Carolina Panthers were able to show their appreciation for teachers and Character Playbook by hosting them at the Panthers FanFest that kicked off the NFL preseason. 


“Character Playbook is an amazing resource to teach kids things like conflict resolution and teamwork and all these important character assets. We want to show our appreciation back to the teachers,” said Cal Davies, Youth Programs Coordinator at Carolina Panthers.


When students are able to better understand emotions and how to build healthy relationships, they are set up for a more successful future. United Way is proud to partner with EverFi and the Carolina Panthers as they pave the way for students to not only succeed in school, but to reach their full potential in the real world as well.


Learn more about Character Playbook and United Way’s partnership with the NFL.