Tagged “Character Education”

School Uses Character Education to Create a Caring School Climate

Apollo Beach Elementary School, Apollo Beach, Florida

Apollo Beach Elementary School (ABES) was named a 2013 National School of Character by whole child partner Charcter Education Partnership. Located in a small urban setting south of Tampa, ABES  is one of 146 elementary schools in Hillsborough County Florida–the 8th largest school district in the United States. The school does not have much ethnic diversity, but it has quite a disparity in the supplemental educational services among students, which presents a number of challenges when trying to unify students and parents to create a caring school climate. ABES embarked upon a character initiative in 2002 with only four trained faculty members. Since that time, the school's program has grown to include the entire faculty staff, students, parents, and community at large. Over 50 percent of the faculty serve on the character education committee, and many of these members have been individually trained in various components of character, which they frequently share with others. In recent years, as county demands on instructional time has increased, ABES has worked diligently to embed character education into every setting—academic and otherwise—to reinforce character building among our students and staff. Additonally, new steps have been taken to actively involve parents, PTA, and business partners to make a community connection. ABES was

Building Tomorrow’s Leaders

Hidden Creek Elementary School, Port Orchard, Wash.

Washington State ASCD has selected Hidden Creek Elementary School as the winner of its State School of Character Award. This Port Orchard, Washington school works to ensure that each child is developing not only academically, but emotionally and socially as well. This is accomplished through character education modules and an academic program that is customized to meet individual needs. At Hidden Creek, staff members believe in the aptitude for success in every student, and they strive to help the students meet their goals every day. The school combines supportive programming and goal setting exercises to keep its students on the path to success.

Character Education improves Neighborhood School

Lake Bluff School, Shorewood, WI

Lake Bluff School (LB) is a neighborhood school within the diverse community of Shorewood, Wisc. The schools in Shorewood are the hub of the community and LB is considered a jewel in that hub, in no small part because of efforts with character education (CE). The LB staff unanimously decided to implement an intentional CE program in response to a parent survey that showed several areas of concern regarding student behavior. Work with character has transformed the school culture and climate.

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.

A Welcoming, Supportive, and Celebratory Atmosphere in Missouri

Uthoff Valley Elementary School, Fenton, M.O.

Uthoff Valley staff creates a welcoming, supportive, and celebratory atmosphere to help all students achieve their personal goals and feel good about their accomplishments. Uthoff Valley builds empathy and pro-social skills in students through class meetings, service opportunities, and buddy activities. All students are celebrated through quarterly “Rock On” assemblies, positive referrals, and lunch with the principal. Principal Connie Browning’s first day at UV was on a Rock On Assembly day. “It was the most incredible experience I have ever had. Every student felt great about supporting friends and about meeting their goals.” Uthoff Valley has high rates of parent involvement and volunteerism; a large group of parent volunteers assists with early-release-day activities so that teachers can engage in staff development.

An Individualized Education Rich in Academics

St. Louis Charter School, St. Louis, M.O.

Comprehensive character education has been a part of St. Louis Charter School’s mission since its inception 11 years ago: “To provide children with an individualized education rich in academics and character.” All classrooms emphasize core values. According to school board member Lynn Yearwood, the values are so embedded in the school that “[t]hey are even woven into board meetings.” St. Louis Charter staff work hard to create community among their students—who come from different parts of the city and from different backgrounds—and to celebrate their differences. Student work and art are everywhere, even on attractively painted ceiling tiles. Staff members monitor data closely and plan program changes in response. The school also uses its data to help individual students improve. St. Louis Charter does an outstanding job of providing professional development opportunities for the entire staff to help them meet the needs of their students.

School Promotes Core Values to Address Student Needs

Lincoln Elementary School, Troy, M.O.

Lucky the Leopard, the Lincoln mascot, greets students in the morning with his paw raised as a reminder of the school touchstone, Show Your Paw, which reinforces the core values of respect, self-control, accountability, and being ready to learn. All teachers are trained in a districtwide reading program, and the entire school has strengthened its focus on math. Learning abilities are addressed with differentiated instruction strategies. Students have an active voice and choice in the character education process. Lincoln promotes caring attachments through monthly buddy programs, cross-grade student mentors, weekly class meetings, and cooperative learning academic centers. According to parent Tracy Hulbert, Lincoln is “an extension of the home, a nurturing environment that feels like family.”

Core Values and Intrinsic Motivation Help Foster Learning

Kellison Elementary School, Fenton, M.O.

A large, diverse elementary school, Kellison uses core values (or “Tigertudes”) to form a common language. According to former principal Tracy Edwards, “The staff at Kellison works really hard to ensure success for all of our students.” Like other Rockwood schools, Kellison has embraced the Caring School Community (CSC) model. Kellison teachers moved away from extrinsic rewards some time ago, citing an emphasis on goal setting and the support of parents that allowed them to do so. “Trinkets” are no longer found at Kellison. Students participate in service projects for the joy of helping others, not to win a pizza party. According to Edwards, “Each year we continue to see [fewer] office referrals for disrespect, and we solidly believe that this is the result of our concentrated character work.” Kellison has a mature, embedded character initiative that has reached a high level of excellence.

Respectful, Responsible, and Safe Behavior Sends Clear and Consistent Messages

Joseph J. Catena School, Freehold, NJ

Catena School is a model of progress. It is a place where relationships matter, activity abounds, and learning reaches beyond classroom walls and into the outside world. At Catena, every day offers highly engaging opportunities for students to “pass on” compassion and to self-monitor their behavior. Catena is committed to a constant reevaluation of student needs, and staff work toward improving the depth and breadth of their instructional approaches. A common language permeates every space at Catena. The modeling of respectful, responsible, and safe behavior sends clear and consistent messages.

Golden Rule Thrives in Guffey, Mo.

George Guffey Elementary School, Fenton, M.O.


Students recite the “Shine On” character pledge daily, and they strive to be “Guffey’s Gold” by treating one another the way they would want to be treated. Teachers greet their students at the door every day with a smile to welcome them into the classroom and set the tone for the day. According to principal Jackie Waller, “Students at Guffey feel safe and know they are surrounded by caring individuals.” Kristen Pelster, the principal of Ridgewood Middle School (a 2006 NSOC and the school to which the Guffey students proceed upon graduation), comments that she has seen positive changes in the Guffey students who come to her school. She reports that Guffey students are leaders on her campus. Parents and community members declare that the staff is unified in their approach to character.

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