Tagged “Bullying”

When Students Support Each Other, Respect and Safety Abound

Minnehaha Elementary School, Vancouver, Wash.
 

Minnehaha Elementary School, located in Vancouver, Washington, joins other top schools in receiving Washington State ASCD’s Safe School Award. The efficacy of a unified effort by Minnehaha staff and administrators to provide a secure learning environment can be seen in a significant drop in disciplinary referrals and an overall sense of comfort among the students. Respect for others is central and anti-bullying efforts and clear behavior expectations provide students with the framework they need to enjoy their own sense of safety and ensure that it is replicated for others.

All School Employees Work Hard to Create an Inclusive, Supportive Atmosphere

Woerther Elementary School, Ballwin, M.O.
 

Woerther staff members work hard to create an inclusive, supportive atmosphere for all. Principal Jane Levy notes, “We are in a time of strong professional growth. Individual teachers are taking responsibility for students, and they have a whole team behind them.” After creating a data self-evaluation wall in one hallway so that they could share what they were doing and hear from all stakeholders—even the youngest students—staff members learned that they should communicate even more about goings-on at the school. Woerther has made a determined effort to reduce material rewards. All school employees, including support staff, cafeteria monitors, recess monitors, and bus drivers, are involved in planning and implementing the character initiative. Every report of bullying or peer cruelty is taken seriously. A special effort is made to include and reach out to the parents of Voluntary Transfer students from inner-city St. Louis.
 

Core Values: Respect, Responsibility, Caring, and Service

Mark Twain Elementary School, Brentwood, M.O.
 

Mark Twain Elementary School staff and students refer to the Big Four character traits: respect, responsibility, caring, and service. These core values have created a climate and culture where words such as “feels like a second home” are used to describe the ethos of the school. Dramatic improvements in academics coupled with reductions in disciplinary referrals and bullying behavior constitute evidence of the culture and climate change that has taken place here. As part of the Voluntary Transfer Program, 25 percent of the student body travels from urban St. Louis to the school every day; however, as noted by 3rd grade teacher Kim Staggs, “Students feel like they belong.”
 

No-Blame Approach Promotes Student Growth and Learning

Union Elementary School, Buckhannon, W.V.

 

Hallways at Union Elementary are covered with evidence of the students’ character-related work: from anti-bullying pledges, to individual student goals, to fundraising efforts to support the family of a student with cancer. More than 3,000 paper chain links—each representing an act of kindness—hang in the hallways; students have a goal of making the chain extend around the entire school. Union has a dedicated staff that does whatever it takes to meet the needs of all students, a number of whom live in severe poverty. Students, parents, and community members contribute to the cleanliness and maintenance of the school and school grounds. Teachers not only model core beliefs and caring for others, but they are also overwhelmingly positive and welcoming, and they work together to solve problems. As both teachers and parents emphasize repeatedly, the belief that “there are no bad students” pervades the Union community.
 

Character Defines the School’s Approach to Learning and to Life

Walnut Street School, Uniondale, N.Y.

 

Walnut Street School, with a diverse student population that is 42 percent African-American and 48 percent Hispanic, initiated a character education program six years ago in response to escalating gang violence. The initiative accomplished much more: It now defines the school’s approach to learning and to life. This school has narrowed, and in some cases reversed, the achievement gap. Character education is now an integral part of the schoolwide plan. Quarterly assemblies reinforce character lessons. The school ties character education to sports activities. The G.R.E.A.T. (Gang Resistance Education and Training) program teaches about bullying prevention and learning not to be a bystander. Walnut Street uses multiple strategies to reach every student. Parental support is strong; the school was named a PTA School of Excellence.
 

Caring and Inclusive Climate at a Small New Jersey Elementary School

Alan B. Shepard Jr. Elementary School, Old Bridge, N.J.

This small elementary school has had a big influence within its walls and in its larger community. Kathleen Hoeker, the former principal, started her journey as school leader in 2001 by focusing on ways to combat bullying. From there, the school underwent a districtwide redistribution of students and in 2004 adopted the Character Counts six pillars as the foundation of its character initiative. Today, all students are involved in creating the caring climate that permeates the building. An inclusive school, Shepard has a mission to provide the same education opportunities to children with disabilities as they do to their able-bodied peers.
 

“Educating Every Student, Every Day in Every Way”

North Boulevard Elementary, Pompton Plains, N.J.

North Boulevard (NB) School’s mission statement is “Educating Every Student, Every Day in Every Way (E3).” E3 embodies our key character education concepts. The NB character initiative is highlighted by a developmental approach to conflict resolution (Peace Bridge, Peacemakers, and Heart Club). NB students learn and apply these core values through our version of the Bucket Filling Program. Our students learn and use the vocabulary of Bucket Filling combined with anti-bullying concepts through frequent CE lessons. The values of caring and empathy extend beyond the boundaries of the school through grade-level service learning projects and our School Ambassadors Club.
 

Everyone Has a Role in Educating Character

Fuguitt Elementary School, Largo, Fla.

Named a 2011 National School of Character by whole child partner the Character Education Partnership, Fuguitt Elementary School truly embraces the "it takes a village" approach to character education. Staff members are focused and intentional as they work to build the academic program on the foundation of a strong character education base. Student leaders, known as character coaches, lead discussions of the school's character book of the month. Reading and writing programs have been intentionally linked to character education. Teachers have integrated the service learning program into the curriculum and provide structured opportunities for student initiative and reflection. Students are included in the planning and leadership stage, and both pre- and post-reflection opportunities are developed for each activity. The assistant principal, who launched the Bully-Free Club, and the guidance counselors and classroom teachers all have critical roles in the success of the school. At Fuguitt, all employees are considered to be "character educators," and Principal Mike Moss says their character education efforts are "bringing the staff alive."

School Organizes to Be Proactive, Not Reactive

Wagga Wagga Christian College, Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia

Recognized as a MindMatters School in 2011 by whole child partner Principals Australia Institute, Wagga Wagga Christian College is a coeducational K–12 school which fosters a family environment that develops responsibility and trust between peers and multi-aged young people. In 2007, the faculty determined the need to develop a welfare system to be proactive and responsive, not reactive. As a result the school has refined its transition programs, building stronger links with parents and the community beyond the school; expanded its student leadership program, empowering students at all levels of leadership; and implemented resilience programs, highlighting the safe use of social networks, cyberbullying, and sex education and relationships. Feedback is sought at parent association meetings about the mental health and well-being programs that could be implemented for students and parents.

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