Colorful cast educates children on character
Patti Snyder, creater of “Character County,” sings a song with puppets Jewel, Stu and Tiffany (left to right) during a show Monday at the Fort McPherson Post Theater. Snyder used her talents as a musician and songwriter, along with the help of her ensemble of puppets, to entertain children while educating them on qualities that lead to good character.

On Monday, the children of Fort McPherson got a chance to learn about character from a cast of colorful characters.

A showing of "Character County," a musical puppet show, was held at the Fort McPherson Post Theater to entertain, as well as educate, children on the virtues and aspects of developing good character.

Patti Snyder, a former school teacher and the creator of Character County, said she started the program 14 years ago after her school was discussing character development in the classroom. Using her talents as a musician and songwriter, she created the first of five programs that would eventually compose her Character County series, which is focused for children up to 12 years of age.

The influence of song was apparent throughout the 45-minute production, which also contained personal stories from Snyder's life.

Aja Toms, assistant pre-kindergarten teacher at Fort McPherson's Child Youth and Schools Services center, said the music and puppets created a good learning environment for her students.

Her students went to the Army Community Service-sponsored event as a field trip.

"It was a good reinforcement of their classroom rules," she said. "They really enjoyed the music and the puppets. It was a different experience for the kids."

Different, but in line with the rules of proper behavior the classroom stresses, Toms said. Snyder focused on seven different aspects of proper behavior that build character in her show, using her puppets and songs to illustrate each.

These seven characteristics were empathy, respect, manners, courage, honesty, responsibility and excellence.

"I hope they will find one little nugget in there and say 'I want to be a better me,'" said Snyder. "It's a challenge to them to build character."

Character is important, she stressed, because it affects so much of an individual's life. "Whatever is on the inside will come out," Snyder said, adding children need to avoid people with bad character, be careful who they hang around with and see who their friends and influences are.

In doing so and by striving for excellence, Snyder said children can build themselves better character, which in turn helps improve society. Speaking of her childhood growing up in the 50s, she said life was different - a time when Families could leave doors unlocked without worry.

However, over time, she said values have slowly eroded. Just as the erosion took place over decades, the rebuilding process will also take time, Snyder said.

Thus, while the program was aimed at kids, it was also a challenge to adults in the audience.

"It (building good character) starts with parents. So little can be done in schools," she said. "If parents don't teach values, the schools can try but can only do so much."

Though it may not have as much power as parents, the CYSS pre-K is doing all it can to help build good character in its students. Laura Stephenson, pre-K teacher, said pre-K is all about being good and making friends.

"You give them (the kids) a solid foundation at an early age and hope they can carry it with them," she said. Doing so requires a lot of reinforcement of positives learned, and Stephenson said the show was a good program to offer such reinforcement.

"It was a great way to spend our morning," she said. "You can tell the kids really enjoyed it."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16