Bowles Elementary School, Fenton, Mo.
Named a 2011 National School of Character by whole child partner the Character Education Partnership, Bowles Elementary School was one of the first schools in the Rockwood School District to pilot the Caring School Community model. Over the past seven years, it has moved from a "trait of the month" approach to a deeper, more comprehensive approach tied to curriculum and content. While Bowles' socioeconomic status is the second lowest in Rockwood, this Title I school continues to strive to be among the highest achieving of the 19 elementary schools in the district. Former principal Dave Cobb describes Bowles as a caring community that places a priority on building relationships. "Without relationships, we believe that strong character cannot be achieved." Building relationships is challenging, given the school’s ever-shifting demographics. But that diversity and student mobility has "challenged us to do out-of-the-box thinking," according to Cobb. "We literally have to do whatever it takes." Despite demographic changes, Cobb notes that Bowles has been able to maintain parental support and good test scores.