By Joan Hoxsey
One of the best stories about the value of the VIA survey is about a Child Care Center Director who had her staff take the VIA survey as part of an initiative to help teachers see the children’s strengths. The thinking was that if teachers knew their strengths they would be better able to see the children’s strengths.
This Director was faced with a difficult decision, she had a teacher who was constantly tardy and not very active with children or parents and often missed work all together. Child care agencies have a high turnover and the Director was not anxious to fire the teacher. It would cost the Center financially and would lower morale among other teachers since all dismissals create tensions and fear.
When the teachers took the VIA survey, the Director noticed that this particular teacher was high in Creativity. This was a very smart Director so she knew that people loved the title of Director. She had already named a Director of Reading and a Director of Parent Involvement. So, based on the VIA Survey, she decided to appoint the teacher the Director of Celebration. Maybe, she thought, this responsibility will engage her.
Well, it turns out, the teacher was an avid scrapbooker. Soon every child had a scrapbook. You cannot make a decent scrapbook without input from home. Parents were thrilled so were the children. Based on all the material collected the teacher began to have themed birthday parties for the children. Soon the teacher was often surrounded by children talking about the books and parties. Parents loved her enthusiasm. Instead of being late, the teacher began to come in early. She had so much to do as a Director of Celebration!
The Center Director had managed to help the teacher not only save her job but also become a valued Center leader. The VIA survey had opened a whole new approach to supporting ALL of the teachers using their individual character strengths in a very real and substantive way and the teacher was evidence of VIA’s value.