Tagged “Character Education”

South Carolina School Takes Responsibility for Academics and Personal Behavior

Bell’s Crossing Elementary School, Simpsonville, S.C.


Rarely does one find a school, particularly a large elementary school, so student-focused. Beginning in kindergarten, students are taught to be responsible for themselves, set academic and personal goals, track their own progress, and be prepared to explain the data to anyone who asks. Every child has a data notebook in which both academic and behavioral statistics are kept and updated on a regular basis. Stakeholders selected the work of Steven Covey to provide more “focus on student leadership and developing essential skills that are needed in the workplace of tomorrow,” according to principal Barbara Barlow. Today, more than 10 leadership clubs are provided for students in grades 3–5, while younger students participate in activities with their grade-level peers.

Oklahoma School Develops Character and Academic Results

Muskogee High School, Muskogee, OK


Muskogee High School is celebrated by its community as the first-ever Oklahoma State and National School of Character. The Muskogee Roughers are now on the ROAD (Respect, Opportunity, Achievement, Determination) to Success because of the synergy that character development has created. The Advocacy program, initiated in 2008-09, has become a powerful connector that supports a sense of security and belonging among a highly diverse student population. Students feel cared for, and as a result, academic achievement is up and disciplinary referrals are down. Intentional opportunities to serve can be found everywhere at MHS, and 40 different student groups and organizations offer something for everyone.

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.

School Addresses Specific Community Needs With a Caring Approach

Brigantine Elementary School, Brigantine, N.J.

Brigantine’s Strategic Planning Committee has built a caring school community using a comprehensive, intentional approach designed to address specific community needs. Demographic changes have dramatically affected the district and the school, prompting development of a plan and a homegrown program to meet the needs of the increasingly diverse population. The result: being named the Kindest School in New Jersey four times. According to principal Don Marrandino, “Our goal at Brigantine Elementary is to teach children at a very young age to make good ethical decisions. Part of that process is learning how to have power over your own behavior. When children make the right choices, they are empowering themselves to be the best they can be.”

Elementary School Leads Students Through a Journey of Learning

Eldridge Park Elementary School, Lawrenceville, N.J.

Eldridge Park has created a culture of character where every first step and all the steps thereafter lead their students on a journey that has already begun to shape the paths of their lives. Students, staff, and community members describe Eldridge Park as a cocoon that prepares and places the most beautiful of butterflies into the world—their children. A smiling principal meets students at the morning buses, a police officer high-fives students walking to school, and teachers meet students coming to early-morning clubs with projects ready. Daily activities and projects connect to core values. Families are actively involved and are a regular presence within the school. Students are encouraged to be “bucket fillers”—people who celebrate one another’s successes. Eldridge Park is an inclusive, family-oriented, and high-energy environment where going the extra mile is a way of life.

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.

Racially and Socioeconomically Diverse School Halts Its Decline

Lyles-Crouch Academy, Alexandria, VA

Lyles-Crouch (LCTA), built in 1958, is a K-5 public magnet school in Old Town, Alexandria that serves a racially and socioeconomically diverse population. In 2000, in an attempt to halt school decline, LCTA became a traditional academy and adopted school uniforms, behavioral contracts, small class sizes, a focus on E.D. Hirsch's Core Knowledge, and an emphasis on character education (Character Counts! or CC!). Character education is not taught in isolation; CC! infuses all aspects of learning. It is incorporated in lesson plans and teacher development days.

Affluent School Works Hard to Welcome All Families and Embrace its Changing Demographics

Mockingbird Elementary, Coppell, T.X.

School Develops Dignity and Pride in Everything Students Do

Salt Brook Elementary School, New Providence, N.J.

Salt Brook strives to bring the Golden Rule to life by encouraging students to develop dignity and pride in everything they do. Salt Brook students see themselves not merely as classmates, but also as citizens of the world. Teachers view character education not as an additional element to their classroom practice but as a comprehensive, pedagogical approach to education. Collaboration and creativity work hand-in-hand, as staff, students, parents, and community members are all involved in conversation, reflection, and choice of annual character themes. Teacher teams work to link daily instruction to weekly events, monthly programs, and annual themes. Salt Brook encourages a “Pass It On!” approach to service. Students participate in service projects that are both personal and community-based. They understand at a very personal and profound level the powerful adage, “If it is to be, it is up to me.”

Character Education gives School Curriculum Meaning

Mockingbird Elementary, Coppell, T.X.

Mockingbird Elementary is located in an affluent community near the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport. Because of the district’s proximity to the airport and its excellent academic reputation, a number of families relocate to Coppell, T.X., and specifically Mockingbird (MKB). Mockingbird works hard to welcome all families and embrace its changing demographics. School leaders became aware of the gap between the “trait of the month” and what was actually happening during unstructured times and began to target specific issues. The staff realized that character must be embedded in the curriculum to have meaning. MKB has implemented several initiatives since 2004.

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