Character program begins at Vail Christian |

Character program begins at Vail Christian

Daily staff report
Edwards, CO Colorado
Special to the DailyErik Zimmer, general manager for CenturyTel, told Vail Christian students how he persevered in his telecommunications career in spite of turmoil and change in that industry. Zimmer spoke as part of the "Exploring Potential" program, authored by the Vail Leadership Institute.

EDWARDS ” Erik Zimmer, general manager of CenturyTel for Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico, recently spoke to the student body at Vail Christian High School about exploring potential.

The yearlong “Exploring Potential” program, subtitled “Eight Keys to Leading Your Life,” was authored by John Horan-Kates, president of the Vail Leadership Institute.

Exploring Potential is a character- and leadership-development program with the purpose of helping students set a course for the next few years by introducing themes that develop valuable life skills.

“A goal of the program is to help students see that they are the leaders of their own lives, to realize that character development starts now and evolves over one’s whole life, and to understand they are responsible for their life choices,” Horan-Kates said.

CenturyTel became interested not only out of a sense of civic responsibility, but also because its own “unifying principles” include many of the same themes: integrity; positive attitude; respect; and the topic that Zimmer spoke on, perseverance. During his remarks, Zimmer commented on how he persevered in his telecommunications career in spite of turmoil and change in that industry.

The program is centered on “core values” and “key principles,” with one principle given focus during each month over the school year. Parents get involved at the very start by working at home with their students in identifying their core values using the institute’s deck of “values cards.”

Goals are included in the last few weeks of the school year through a “storyboarding” process that will use stories and speakers to make it different from regular classroom work. The program will weave the themes into newsletters, posters, staff meetings, the school’s Web site, the Booster Club, the PTA, and other school activities and organizations.

The costs of the program have been covered in a grant offered by CenturyTel.

For more information on Exploring Potential, e-mail or call John Horan-Kates at 926-7800 or at The institute’s Web site is at

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