Tagged “Elementary”

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.

Parents Are Integral Members of the Learning Community to Ensure the Success of All Students

Geggie Elementary School, Eureka, M.O.


This is a large elementary school that is growing rapidly and facing overcrowding as new housing is built and new families move into the attendance zone. Despite significant population growth over the past five years, disciplinary referrals have declined. Recent positive school-climate goals include the building of students’ sense of competence, especially in girls, and continuing work on the school’s new bully-reporting system. Stakeholders are playing a key part of the development of the school kids, infact according to principal Mary Kleekamp, “Parents are integral members of our learning community and volunteer countless hours to ensure the success of all our students.”

Character Education Has Become a Way of Life at this Missouri Elementary School

Crestwood Elementary School, Crestwood, M.O.


Crestwood serves a diverse population, with 15 different languages spoken at home and the highest poverty level in the district. Despite the many challenges of meeting the needs of a diverse population, Crestwood has the highest student achievement among the district’s elementary schools, recently receiving the Missouri Gold Star Award and the National Blue Ribbon Award. Character education, which has been in place at Crestwood since 1989, has evolved into a “way of life,” according to Jim Simpson, the district superintendent. This is a warm and welcoming school with a strong camaraderie among staff, students, and parents. Principal Scott Taylor describes his staff as “wonderful, caring, loving, and great teachers who have high expectations for all students.”

Academic Gains Via a Focus on Character Education

Branson Elementary School West, Branson, M.O.


“We are not a good school, we are a great school!” This is the chant in which principal Mike Dawson leads students, staff, parents, and community members each Monday morning at the all-school character assembly. The chant reminds all stakeholders that the school has a vision for success which includes every student. Dawson attributes his students’ steady academic gains to the systematic implementation of character education. “Once the culture and climate changed, teachers were more trusting and able to plan for student success. Now, we have an aligned curriculum, systematic formative and common assessment data collection, a seamless approach to intervention, and an online curriculum resource available to parents and teachers.” Despite a mobility rate of 35 percent, parents feel welcome in the building, and as proof of community support, a recent school bond passed with 75 percent approval.

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.

Dept. of Defense School in Texas Allows Students to Thrive in an Atmosphere of Academic Challenge

Duncan Elementary School, Fort Hood, T.X.

Duncan Elementary School is one of four elementary schools on the Fort Hood military base, the largest military installation in the world. The school provides a safe haven for military children. Parent Gary Tomblin describes the children at the school as “different in that they know life and death,” adding, “[T]heir parents are part of an organization where character is part of who they are. For everyone at Duncan, character is a way of life.” Duncan’s character education program teaches students basic values, and it permeates all aspects of the school. Students determine the direction of club activities. All service-learning projects are now part of the lesson plans that teachers have generated or are part of the planning process of the student-led clubs. Rigorous reading in the content areas, reading intervention programs, and overall high expectations allow students to thrive in an atmosphere of academic challenge.

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.

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.

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