Tagged “Student Voice”

At this Global Academy Each Student Has a Voice

Academy for Global Citizenship, Chicago, Illinois

At Academy for Global Citizenship (AGC), each student has a voice and is given the space to contribute and lead. For example, one 3rd grader put together a successful campaign to provide a healthier drink alternative in the cafeteria, which involved collecting signatures, designing flow charts, and building a team team to research drink alternatives. In one 4th grade class, after their exchange class in India asked how the AGC building was heated, students did a three day-long research adventure to discover it. According to the AGC staff, the key is saying  “yes” to students’ suggestions, encouraging their questions, and urging them to discover the full answer on their own. AGC was recently recognized as a ChangeMaker School by whole child partner Ashoka.

 

 

School Celebrates All Voices as Children, Parents, and Staff Unite.

Stockton Elementary School, Cherry Hill, N.J.
 

Richard Stockton Elementary School celebrates all voices as children, parents, and staff unite. SES plans together, shares sorrows, respects one another, celebrates differences, and experiences amazing daily adventures. The staff broke into groups to create an ideal school and presented to each other their team vision. Trust, respect, a collaborative work environment that was welcoming and safe to students, staff, and parents were common threads. Today what stands out at Richard Stockton is the comprehensive approach to character education, the opportunities for student and staff voices to be heard, and the goal of providing genuine opportunities for moral growth.
 

Town Meetings and Shared Grade-Level Planning

Pierce Elementary School, Birmingham, Mich.

Named a 2011 National School of Character by whole child partner the Character Education Partnership, Pierce Elementary School has made a significant transformation as a result of adopting character education as its focus. The changes have impacted students and staff alike. The administration, along with the leadership of the character education and wellness committees, have all played positive roles in this transformation. The touchstone, Pierce Path, unified the school community with a common language, and projects such as the Family Path (the opportunity for families to create their own touchstone and highlight core values) are universally recognized at the school. Several school-wide events focused on character are held throughout the year, including Spirit Week, Peace Day, and assemblies. The school utilizes "town meetings" by grade level and allows for ample reflection at the student level. The addition of a shared grade-level planning time helped to rejuvenate and inspire teachers and led to formation of an ethical learning community.

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.

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."

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."

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.

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