Tagged “Service Learning”

A High-Mobility Middle School in Missouri brings sudents together

Fox Middle School, Arnold, M.O.

 

The staff at Fox Middle School has become character education leaders frequently called upon to share best practices with other educators. Service learning is seen as a tool to help students learn important skills—and learn to appreciate what they have. As a school with only two grades and a high mobility rate (15 percent), Fox works hard to ease the transition for all new students. Both parents and students write letters to their teachers before the year begins to let them know about their learning needs and interests. In order to meet the dual challenges of having many students whose families are financially stressed and being faced with shrinking school budgets, Fox teachers “go above and beyond,” according to principal Aaron Wilken. “They do anything to make the kids successful. They make do with what we have. Staff members are willing to take risks and [exercise] responsibility.”
 

Service-Learning improves School and Community

Brentwood Middle School, Brentwood, M.O.

 

Educators at Brentwood Middle School, a school that consistently makes AYP and has parent involvement and no major behavioral concerns, decided to perform a complete overhaul of its culture and daily activities. Why? They did not want to become stagnant or settle for good; they want to strive for excellence. Teachers infuse character into lessons. Students create service learning projects to improve the school and community. Parents and community members flock to volunteer their services. BMS has become more than good; it is an excellent place to learn and grow. Excellence in all we do and say, that is the Brentwood way!
 

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.

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."

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."

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