1999...The year I will never forget...the Columbine School Shooting.
This is when I looked out my classroom window knowing I needed to do more for children than my role as an elementary teacher. Throughout my 20 years as an educator, I saw the moral compass change in children and in society… the demise of core values, a sharp decrease in kindness and empathy, an increase in bullying, and the disappearance of manners and respect. I began thinking continually about serving in a different capacity. With a love of children and animals at my core, and an unending desire to make the world a kinder place, the creation of something bigger than my classroom began happening.
The journey, now known as Two by Two Character Development, began with my mother, Beverly Graves, a long time elementary school teacher. Together, along with outstanding educators in our community and national experts in character development, we began to focus on the critical need of restoring a culture of character within schools, communities, and in our society with social-emotional learning programming.
Everything we created revolved around our eight core values: Fairness, Kindness, Respect, Responsibility, Empathy, Cooperation, Perseverance, and Citizenship. Two by Two® researched-based programming—Kindhearted Kids, Kindhearted Kids to the Rescue, Toolkits of Character, Kindhearted Kids Make a Difference, and the Family Toolkit of Character—were designed to capture a child’s imagination by connecting the teaching of these core values with the love of animals. Involving animals directs instruction not only to the mind, but right to the heart.
“Good character consists of knowing the good, desiring the good, and doing the good – habits of the mind, habits of the heart, and habits of action.”
Author of Educating for Character
What began in my basement has led to a 15-year journey during which we became a recognizable nonprofit in our community and beyond, and expanded our work to include character education conferences, summer camps, professional development, community programming, and sports team training.
Helping to make the world a kinder place has been both rewarding and heartrending, as the work never ends. What I know is that even though I miss the classroom and its daily connection to kids, this is where I am meant to be, as our mission continues to make an impact daily…To develop responsible citizens of strong character who care for, respect, and appreciate people, animals, and the environment.
We are proud to “change lives and build character” in our community and beyond. I invite you to read specific information about Two by Two® products and services to begin your social-emotional learning journey.