Tagged “School Climate”

A SAFE Approach: Successful Appropriate Foundation to Educate All Children

Roosevelt Primary School, Ferndale, Mich.

Named a 2011 National School of Character by whole child partner the Character Education Partnership, Roosevelt Primary School is committed to providing a Successful Appropriate Foundation to Educate all children. The key letters spell out SAFE. The school has created a caring community—or, as staff and parents would say, a "family." Principal Dina Rocheleau says, "My staff is so committed to make this work, and they have such a connection with each other. Even when they have conflict with each other, they know how to resolve it." Under the guidance of this principal, staff created classroom climates that teach children essential values. They moved to a relation-based approach that focuses on love, safety, and the whole child. There is no competition at Roosevelt, and they celebrate successes as a class and a school family. Service learning projects emphasize to young children that not only should they be helpful, safe, kind, respectful, and responsible within the school but that their outreach to people beyond the campus makes a world of difference. First-grade teacher Jennifer Zublick observes: "Our staff works together so well."

New School Develops Its Core

Pembroke Elementary School, Troy, Mich.

In 2007, Pembroke Elementary School had an ideal opportunity to recast itself with a new vision, touchstone, and school mascot as it moved into a brand new building. The Pembroke Character Education Committee played a role in developing the new school touchstone, with its focus on core values, as the new building opened. Named a 2011 National School of Character by whole child partner the Character Education Partnership, Pembroke has achieved great clarity of vision, with its core values supported by the touchstone and the school pledge. The faculty and administration recognize and testify to a well-developed integration of core values into curricular lessons. In addition to cross-age buddy programs, the school also implements a Links program, where older students reach out to special needs students every day at lunch and recess. Intrinsic reward strategies are understood and practiced, along with reflection by students involved in disciplinary situations. Parents are actively engaged in the work of the Character Education Committee and in meaningful volunteer activities in the school and through the PTA.

Ethnically Diverse School Transforms School Discipline

Bingham Farms Elementary School, Bingham Farms, Mich.

Located in the affluent Birmingham district northwest of Detroit, Bingham Farms Elementary School celebrates being one of the more ethnically diverse schools in the area. Encouraged by the district to develop a touchstone, this school's staff, students, and parents are now unified around their vision for positive character known as the "Bingham Best." According to Principal Russ Facione, the touchstone allows students to "reflect and refocus" and take charge of their choices. "It has literally transformed discipline in our building," he adds.

Named a 2011 National School of Character by whole child partner the Character Education Partnership, Bingham Farms also boasts numerous Promising Practices awards and creative strategies that have enabled students to succeed—both academically and socially. All students, for example, have learned a five-step conflict resolution strategy called Solve-It-Spot. Students are reminded of the steps through posters placed around the school and practice during class meetings. Students report that the strategy is informally implemented by peers, and parents testify to seeing Solve-It-Spot practiced at home.

Caring and Compassion Translates into Narrowing the Achievement Gap

Oakwood Elementary School, Glen Burnie, Md.

Parents and staff consistently refer to Oakwood Elementary School as "the best-kept secret in Glen Burnie." The sense of caring and compassion that has been fostered here, as well as the dedication to meeting the individual needs of students, has translated into a remarkable narrowing of the achievement gap and academic excellence for all. In class, students help one another, soothe each other, and share classroom materials. Teachers help children in such seamless and natural ways that no child is singled out for being "special." Named a 2011 National School of Character by whole child partner the Character Education Partnership, Oakwood's staff finds strategies that suit every student, and they have devised a consistent set of expectations for student behavior throughout the building. Parents feel well informed and welcome in the school and are involved in character education leadership. When asked about how the school has made such remarkable academic gains, former principal Nancy Knouse responds: "Everybody in this building is working for kids. Nobody ever gives up on any child."

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."

Everyone Has a Role in Educating Character

Fuguitt Elementary School, Largo, Fla.

Named a 2011 National School of Character by whole child partner the Character Education Partnership, Fuguitt Elementary School truly embraces the "it takes a village" approach to character education. Staff members are focused and intentional as they work to build the academic program on the foundation of a strong character education base. Student leaders, known as character coaches, lead discussions of the school's character book of the month. Reading and writing programs have been intentionally linked to character education. Teachers have integrated the service learning program into the curriculum and provide structured opportunities for student initiative and reflection. Students are included in the planning and leadership stage, and both pre- and post-reflection opportunities are developed for each activity. The assistant principal, who launched the Bully-Free Club, and the guidance counselors and classroom teachers all have critical roles in the success of the school. At Fuguitt, all employees are considered to be "character educators," and Principal Mike Moss says their character education efforts are "bringing the staff alive."

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.

Nurturing Confidence, Compassion, and Personal Excellence in Students

Corpus Christi College, Bateman, Western Australia

Corpus Christi College is a co-educational high school of nearly 1,200 students located just south of Perth. The school provides a modern, exciting, and forward-thinking education experience for students, nurturing confidence, compassion, and personal excellence. The school is committed to educating young people to serve as school and community leaders and students are prepared to become life-long learners and global citizens.

Recognized as a MindMatters School in 2011 by whole child partner Principals Australia Institute, Corpus Christi College has established a functional school-based core health and well-being team with clear processes and roles to support their work. The school has increased the number of trained staff and the range of professional development opportunities available to support staff wellness. Students are encouraged to take proactive leadership roles in mental health and well-being initiatives and mental health and resilience themes are integrated throughout the curriculum and extracurricular activities. Parent, family, and community involvement has expanded with regular parent information forums and direct links with community mental health services.

Every Individual Has a Role to Play

Aitken College, Greenvale, Victoria, Australia

Aitken College is a co-educational and independent preK–12 school serving families living in the northwest region of Melbourne. Students are encouraged to use their expanding knowledge as a basis for investigation, problem solving, critical thinking, and creativity. The school's well-being and mental health program is proactive, hands-on, skill-based, and data driven. The school has developed a core team, comprising a wide range of dedicated staff that raises awareness of well-being issues and develops different mental health and well-being initiatives. This core team is then able to inform policy and program development based around key concepts of student-staff well-being as a whole-school approach and that every individual has an important role to play.

Recognized as a MindMatters School in 2011 by whole child partner Principals Australia Institute, Aitken College has a comprehensive life skills curriculum for all students that addresses self-image, self-esteem, relationships, sex and drug education, resiliency, bullying, mental health, and well-being. The school supports staff wellness, meditation classes for both staff and students, and a cybersafety group.

Building a Positive School Culture for Diverse Students

Woodville High School, Woodville, South Australia

Recognized as a MindMatters School in 2011 by whole child partner Principals Australia Institute, Woodville High School has a complex and diverse student population with students coming from 56 cultural and linguistic backgrounds. In 2010, 12 percent of students were identified as students with disabilities, 51 percent as English language learners, and nearly 40 percent are from non English-speaking backgrounds.

Recently well-being became a key focus of at Woodville High School and was incorporated into the site learning plan. Since then, the school has developed initiatives on youth empowerment, building relationships, as well as a "no blame" and a restorative approach to behavior management. School policies have been revised and new procedures around bullying and harassment, including cyberbullying, have been developed. Staff are more confident and have the resources to address a range of mental health concerns and mentoring, parent, and community programs have been established.

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