Tagged “School Climate”

The Number One Rule: Be: Kind

Lusher Charter School, New Orleans, Louisiana

Lusher Charter School is one of the most sought-after public schools in the city of New Orleans. In addition to its academic success and recognition as an Ashoka ChangeMaker School, Lusher is best known for its positive school culture, built on the school’s number one rule: be kind. In addition to doing Responsive Classroom’s morning meeting on a daily basis, Lusher encourages its staff, students, and parents to implement ideas that build a culture of kindness. For example, after Hurricane Katrina, teachers collaborated with Tulane University’s Department of Psychology to design an arts-based healing curriculum that included activities such as painting ceramic eggs to symbolize rebirth and interviewing students about their visions for New Orleans. Fifth graders also took the opportunity to redesign the school’s bathrooms and the school cafeteria, installing a salad bar and round tables in the latter.

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.
 

Core Values: Respect, Responsibility, Caring, and Service

Mark Twain Elementary School, Brentwood, M.O.
 

Mark Twain Elementary School staff and students refer to the Big Four character traits: respect, responsibility, caring, and service. These core values have created a climate and culture where words such as “feels like a second home” are used to describe the ethos of the school. Dramatic improvements in academics coupled with reductions in disciplinary referrals and bullying behavior constitute evidence of the culture and climate change that has taken place here. As part of the Voluntary Transfer Program, 25 percent of the student body travels from urban St. Louis to the school every day; however, as noted by 3rd grade teacher Kim Staggs, “Students feel like they belong.”
 

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.”
 

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.
 

Caring and Inclusive Climate at a Small New Jersey Elementary School

Alan B. Shepard Jr. Elementary School, Old Bridge, N.J.

This small elementary school has had a big influence within its walls and in its larger community. Kathleen Hoeker, the former principal, started her journey as school leader in 2001 by focusing on ways to combat bullying. From there, the school underwent a districtwide redistribution of students and in 2004 adopted the Character Counts six pillars as the foundation of its character initiative. Today, all students are involved in creating the caring climate that permeates the building. An inclusive school, Shepard has a mission to provide the same education opportunities to children with disabilities as they do to their able-bodied peers.
 

School adopts New Character Education Program

Mountianville Academy, Alpine, U.T.
 

Over the summer of 2009, after discussions with key stakeholders, Mountainville Academy (MA) administrators decided to adopt “Leader in Me” as our character education program after seeing it at another National School of Character. Before school began, the program was introduced to teachers, parents, and staff members during a week-long training. To facilitate implementation schoolwide, the school created a team called the Lighthouse team. In October 2009, the program was introduced to the students. In the spring of 2010, parent representatives were invited to join our Lighthouse team. Our Lighthouse team directs our character education and school climate.
 

School Models Character Despite Challenges

Bayless Elementary School, St. Louis, Mo.

Bayless School District is located on the south side of St. Louis and is designated as one of the most diverse school districts per capita in the state of Missouri, with over 17 languages spoken at home. Named a 2011 National School of Character by whole child partner the Character Education Partnership, Bayless Elementary School has 43 percent minority students and more than 60 percent of the student body receives free or reduced-price lunch. Dr. Maureen Clancy-May, the district superintendent, says that despite these challenges, "Bayless staff is creative in finding funds. They turn challenges into opportunities." Clancy-May also describes the Bayless environment as one of total integration of the core values. She says that when you walk through the doors you can "feel it, see it, and taste it." Both staff and students model character with each other. When speaking with Dr. Gina Siebe, the principal of Bayless Elementary, or with parents or members of its character education committee, one is struck by their deep commitment to the development of students of character.

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.

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