Eleven years ago, the Carthage R-9 School District introduced SPIRIT teachers to the students.

Eleven years ago, the Carthage R-9 School District introduced SPIRIT teachers to the students.

In a collaborative effort between the school district, the Missouri Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse and Community Partnership of the Ozarks in Springfield, Mo., SPIRIT teachers bring age-appropriate programs to students of all ages to focus on violence, alcohol and drug prevention, on top of problem solving, decision making skills, respectful behavior, conflict resolution, and other preventive measures such as safe driving practices.

“Working with students is definitely the best part of the job,” said Amy Curti, SPIRIT program coordinator and facilitator. “I have been with the program seven years and have found joy in watching so many talented students grow over the years. If through SPIRIT lessons, students are positively impacted, we are all successful.”

Students in grade level K-6 receive bi-monthly classroom lessons; in grades 7-12 classes are taught as part of the health curriculum by health teachers. If there is ever an issue directly affecting the student body at a particular time, the curriculum is flexible to allow that issue to be addressed. Also, the SPIRIT program at the elementary level teaches “PeaceBuilders,” which focuses on a positive character trait every month. At the middle school, PeaceBuilders combines with a program called “Too Good for Drugs,” and the junior and high schools continue with the “Too Good for Drugs” program materials.

“Coordinating efforts between so many entities can be challenging and take time; however, the end result is many minds working together to make a great program,” Curti said. “I choose to be SPIRIT program coordinator and facilitator because I care about our students, families and community. Our students are our future leaders; if we can help our youth learn to make healthy life choices now, we can anticipate a bright future. SPIRIT supports the Carthage R-9 District in working diligently for each student to realize graduation matters and adopting a 'No Excuses' philosophy in that all students are readily prepared for college or a career at the time of graduation.

“Carthage has had such positive results from the SPIRIT program over the past decade; my goal is to see these trends continue,” Curti said. “Long-term, I would like to see the SPIRIT program grow to serve additional needs in both the local area and adjacent communities. Short-term, the goal of the Carthage SPIRIT staff is to provide the very best in preventive education experiences for our students. It is an honor to be able to share in individual student successes and those of the Carthage R-9 District.”