“Combining the ART of storytelling with the SCIENCE of Spaced-Repetition”

The Beginning of a Hero is a series of two-minute stories (audio or video) for use on elementary school intercom systems. These stories portray a wide variety of very realistic scenarios in everyday student life, whether in the classroom, on the school grounds, in the neighborhood, or at home. Each story introduces a negative or challenging situation that, through the power of choice (often encouraged by a teacher, principal, counselor, parent, or peer) is turned around for a positive ending. The common language throughout the program is that HELPING is the opposite of hurting, and that a person who HELPS is known as a HERO, whether HELPING others or HELPING one’s own future self. Each of these stories opens with the words “A HERO is a person who does special things to HELP others. Every HERO starts out as a child and every child can CHOOSE to become a HERO.” And each story ends (music up and under) with the words: “That’s what I know about the beginning of this HERO, and I know that you can become a HERO, too!”

The Beginning of a FAMOUS Hero™ is a series of two-minute stories that spotlight famous people of great accomplishment in HELPING others—the people we call “HEROES!” Just as these people started out planting seeds of accomplishment in their own childhoods, these stories encourage young listeners to follow the examples portrayed here. These stories are about people who already faced the challenges of childhood and actually became what The Beginning of a Hero™ stories suggest.

Each segment of The Beginning of a FAMOUS Hero™ is:

A Lesson in History
Students learn about the HEROES who have positively shaped our society and contributed greatly to the good of mankind.

A Lesson in Character
These stories point out positive attitudes and personal vision demonstrated by these people, even during their childhoods!

Students can better identify with such adults of great accomplishment when stories are told about their childhoods.

Students are encouraged to follow the examples of other children who grew up to be HEROES!

BONUS — In schools using The Beginning of a FAMOUS Hero™, librarians report that students are asking to check out biographies!

These two sets of stories serve as one program designed to be played on the school intercom (or in a regular school-wide assembly where all students AND teachers are present) twice a week (typically Tuesday and Thursday) throughout the school year.

The Beginning of Little Heroes!™
This is where it all starts—by introducing a new academic language to the youngest of students in PreK and Kindergarten. The Beginning of Little Heroes™ is a series of stories that addresses helping and hurting using examples that 4 and 5 year old children can clearly understand. “HELPING is the opposite of hurting, and people who HELP others are called HEROES.” They hear this concept repeatedly until it becomes a part of their thought processes. Each story concludes with the song, You Can Be a Hero, Too!

School Assembly Programs
Jim Lord’s live presentations for elementary school students are fun, motivating, and inspiring! They cause even the youngest of audience members to THINK—about their relationships with others as they learn about HEROES who HELP others. They also learn to visualize themselves in the future, and realize how they can even become their own heroes by preparing now to make their adult lives better!

Family Assembly Programs
The presentations for families are conducted in the evening and help parents learn more effective ways to communicate with their children about relationships with others and about consciously preparing for their own futures. Parents also hear (perhaps for the first time) ways to become special and memorable HEROES for their own children.

How It Works
With regular use of The Beginning of Little Heroes program, Pre-K, Kindergarten, and even 1st grade students learn through specific examples that hurting others is a bad idea. But it doesn’t stop there. Students are not taught to simply stop a negative behavior, but to replace it with a positive behavior. Played in the classroom on a regular basis, all stories contain several common elements: A student or group of students give maximum effort to a stated learning situation; a student or group of students display a focus on his/her/their own future; each story contains a hurtful incident typical of the early childhood classroom or playground setting, sometimes physical, sometimes verbal, sometimes covert (through rumors, ostracizing, etc.) In each segment, the student instigating the incident will be identified as being hurtful or having a hurtful attitude.  In each segment, at the encouragement of a teacher, administrator, parent, or peer, the student involved with negative behavior will have a change of heart and decide to become a “hero” who helps, instead of being hurtful. Each segment also contains the song entitled, You Can Be a Hero, Too, which identifies “HELPING” as being the opposite of “hurting”, and gives reasons for becoming a HERO by helping.

Age appropriate programs continue for 1st through 6th graders with The Beginning of a Hero , which is played weekly on the school intercom. Each story identifies, through specific examples, negative behavior, and offers the positive alternative of helping instead of hurting. Then, on a second day each week, The Beginning of a FAMOUS Herospotlights a famous person who has contributed greatly to society in some way to become recognized as a “HERO.”  Each of these stories identifies the person telling what he or she did to become that hero, but also tells a story about that person’s childhood, demonstrating that even as a child, that person endured hardships, took advantage of educational opportunities, or developed an attitude of helping others, thereby putting themselves by choice on a path to becoming a recognized hero.  These stories are powerful examples of children who grew up following the same kinds of lessons taught in The Beginning of a Hero stories. They also encourage positive personal vision to emulate the childhoods of the famous heroes portrayed in the stories.

Each of these stories is carefully designed to present new information pinned to something the students already know.  And although the stories offer a wide variety of concepts and scenarios, they all contain a common language, and it is the “spaced-repetition” of that common language that makes the program effective.

The concept of personal vision continues into middle school and beyond with the program entitled, A Reflection of Your Future, which consists of a series of 60-second audio messages for the school intercom. Other supporting materials include the book, Mr. Delaney’s Mirror: A Reflection of Your Future, the accompanying workbook, Mr. Delaney’s Mirror: The Guided Journal, and live assembly programs for both students and families.

Why it Works
Beginning with 3 and 4 year old children, and continuing through elementary school and beyond, regular listening teaches solidly the concept that HELPING and hurting are opposites. With a wide variety of specific scenarios being portrayed, the would-be offender (real-life) will have an established reference prior to his/her proposed act, and through that, encouragement to refrain and to replace his/her avenue of thinking with a more positive thought process. Also, the would-be offender will know that his/her peers possess the same information, producing a perceived intimidation and disdain by his/her peers. Simultaneously, students learn the concept of helping others (AND helping themselves to a better future!) by following the examples of other children who did just that and are now recognized for great accomplishment. Discipline referrals go down; Scores go up!

The Next Step
Call The Character Network at 1-800-364-6883.  Learn how your school can start these programs immediately!

Click here to download the full report by Lee Stewart, Ed.D., Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, TX.