Tagged “Parent And Family Engagement”

Charter School Promotes Parents as Primary Educators

Benjamin Franklin Classical Charter Public School, Franklin, Mass.

Established in 1995 as one of the first charter schools in Massachusetts, Benjamin Frankilin Classical Charter Public School (BFCCPS) also has the distinction of being among the first schools in the country to be named National Schools of Character, in 1998. Named a National School of Character again in 2011 by whole child partner the Character Education Partnership, the mission of BFCCPS is to assist parents in their role as primary educators of their children by providing students with a classical academic education coupled with sound character development and community service.

One of the key strengths of BFCCPS is its determination to maintain its original unique and focused vision to integrate virtues not only into its mission but into what takes place there every day—and its history of success in doing so. In addition to providing an education based on the cardinal virtues of the ancient Greeks, BFCCPS uses a teaching strategy borrowed from an American founder, Benjamin Franklin, to set weekly character goals which enable staff and students to focus on these virtues in both academics and personal interactions, in order to help develop virtuous habits. Also, the school incorporates current research based strategies taken from Responsive Classroom, such as class meetings and service opportunities, to facilitate reflection on the character goals and practice in achieving them.

A Common Message and Sense of Belonging

Renfro Elementary School, Collinsville, Ill.

Renfro Elementary School special education teacher Mary Anne Hempsted observes, "This school is the most welcoming place that I have ever worked. People respond to any need." Renfro's teachers and students connect through class meetings and the cross-grade level "families." Each family creates their own silent family greeting that they use whenever they encounter a "family member" in the halls. Named a 2011 National School of Character by whole child partner the Character Education Partnership, Renfro defines character to include thinking, feeling, and doing and takes a very comprehensive, intentional, proactive approach to character education. Carrie White, parent of a second grader and a kindergartner, praises the common language used at the school, which carries into the home, and observes that the words mean the same at school and at home. Entire classrooms of students are recognized for showing good character, not individuals. Third-grade teacher Carolyn Demaree says, "Every adult cares for the students in this school and holds them accountable."

Faculty and Stakehloder Buy-In Helps Grow School

Oakhurst Elementary School, Largo, Fla.

Marcia Stone, retired principal of one of the 2006 National Schools of Character, remarks about whole child partner the Character Education Partnership's 2011 National School of Character Oakhurst Elementary School, "Professionally, I have watched [Oakhurst] ... effectively and efficiently integrate character development into each day, each classroom, and each student without losing sight of the curriculum." The traits of respect, responsibility, and honesty comprise The Mustang Way at Oakhurst, illustrated by a large mural depicting the mustang mascot. The growth in the Character Education Committee membership reveals the strong faculty buy-in, as does the willingness of teachers to spend personal time preparing for the Morning Meeting program. Students have leadership opportunities through the Model Mustang program, leading service learning projects, and the school's "kid-friendly" version of the 11 principles of character education. Former PTA president Theresa Favell reports that there is "not one person on the [PTA] board who doesn't support the school's work in character education."

Family Atmosphere Fosters Sense of Belonging

Imagine Schools South Lake, Clermont, Fla.

Despite being one of the largest of the more than 70 Imagine Schools campuses, Imagine South Lake feels like a "family" school. Each day, students are greeted by the principal (who knows everyone by name), other administrators, teachers, parents, and student safety patrols. Teacher turnover is minimal, and the re-enrollment rate is above 95 percent. When speaking of her schoolmates and teachers, fourth grader India says, "They are my family." Named a 2011 National School of Character by whole child partner the Character Education Partnership, Imagine South Lake's staff students, and parents live the core values. Staff members incorporate character within the classroom in ways that best meet the needs of their students and reflect the school's mission statement. Middle school language-arts teacher Joyce Crawford notes that "being here at Imagine means you have a voice;" all classrooms have meetings where students' "voice and choice" is heard and appreciated. Teachers care about the students academically, socially, and emotionally. Fourth grader Eliya states that the teachers "don’t want us to fail. They teach us how to learn from our mistakes."

Focusing on the Moral and Social Development of Students

Beauvoir, the National Cathedral Elementary School, Washington, D.C.

Beauvoir is located on the grounds of the National Cathedral located in Washington, D.C. Head of School Paula Carreiro came to Beauvoir 19 years ago and began exploring school culture based on shared core values and individual character. A focus on the whole child and each child's moral and social development now pervades the Beauvoir program. Named a 2011 National School of Character by whole child partner the Character Education Partnership, the school invests time and resources into both social and academic curricula. Beauvoir also emphasizes responsiveness to the needs and concerns of students, parents, and staff. The school's associate teacher program provides two teachers in every classroom. Since about 85 percent of Beauvoir students are from dual-working-parent families, parent schedules are accommodated in many ways, particularly at drop-off time, in school communications, and for volunteer opportunities. Parents attest that Beauvoir's approach lets them "push back" many of today's negative influences.

Students Have Intrinsic Motivation to Succeed

Duffy Elementary School, West Hartford, Conn.

The origins of character education at Duffy Elementary School go back to May 1998, when the school's strategic planning committee decided to implement character education. Named a 2011 National School of Character by whole child partner the Character Education Partnership, Duffy is a school in which students take learning seriously: Student behavior—not only in the classrooms but also in the cafeteria and on the playground—indicates a high degree of intrinsic motivation to do well. Many factors account for this: high parental expectations, an extraordinarily dedicated faculty, and a student body that truly pursues academic excellence.

Strong Community Connectedness Builds Confidence

Clayfield College, Clayfield, Queensland, Australia

Clayfield College is a preK–12 day and boarding school located in the Brisbane suburbs that offers a safe and supportive learning environment, where personal excellence is encouraged. Students come from diverse cultural backgrounds, have varied ability levels, and receive quality teaching and learning within a broad and engaging curriculum, including academic and vocational pathways. Recognized as a MindMatters School in 2011 by whole child partner Principals Australia Institute, students experience a strong feeling of belonging to the community and, through participation in activities, build greater confidence and develop and strengthen relationships; staff feel respected and valued; and parents, families, and members of the community are viewed as vital pieces of the jigsaw.

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.

Community School Provides Easy Access to Host of Services

Ethel M. Taylor Academy, Cincinnati, Ohio

A recipient of the 2011 National Community Schools Award for Excellence from whole child partner the Coalition for Community Schools, Ethel M. Taylor Academy in Cincinnati, Ohio, is the true spotlight of its community.

Focused on strengthening the seamless integration of academic and nonacademic partnerships, the school provides easy access to a host of services through its Community Learning Center, where partners and community and family members are able to play a vital role in students' success. Forty-two percent more of students are scoring proficient or higher on the Ohio Achievement Assessment, and community volunteers have increased by over 100 percent—a true testament to the excellence in academics and infectious dedication Ethel M. Taylor Academy inspires.

Elementary School Structures for Success

Wenonah Elementary School, Waynesboro, Va.

Wenonah Elementary School in Waynesboro, Va., structures its student and adult interactions to ensure success. The school uses tiered Response to Intervention (RTI) strategies, shared professional planning time, a 30-minute daily enrichment/intervention period for all students to ensure that each student is successful, and technology-based methods to provide a rigorous curriculum that enhances 21st century learning. By 5th grade, students complete the majority of their core content class work electronically and are engaging with the global community online.

Grade-level teams meet weekly with an instructional coach and monthly with the principal to discuss student needs, instructional strategies and assessments, and professional development needs to support strong instruction. School-based specialists, community partners, and volunteers do their part too to provide one-to-one academic, behavioral, and emotional support to students and their families.

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