Tagged “Whole Child Partners”

All School Employees Work Hard to Create an Inclusive, Supportive Atmosphere

Woerther Elementary School, Ballwin, M.O.

Woerther staff members work hard to create an inclusive, supportive atmosphere for all. Principal Jane Levy notes, “We are in a time of strong professional growth. Individual teachers are taking responsibility for students, and they have a whole team behind them.” After creating a data self-evaluation wall in one hallway so that they could share what they were doing and hear from all stakeholders—even the youngest students—staff members learned that they should communicate even more about goings-on at the school. Woerther has made a determined effort to reduce material rewards. All school employees, including support staff, cafeteria monitors, recess monitors, and bus drivers, are involved in planning and implementing the character initiative. Every report of bullying or peer cruelty is taken seriously. A special effort is made to include and reach out to the parents of Voluntary Transfer students from inner-city St. Louis.

A Welcoming, Supportive, and Celebratory Atmosphere in Missouri

Uthoff Valley Elementary School, Fenton, M.O.

Uthoff Valley staff creates a welcoming, supportive, and celebratory atmosphere to help all students achieve their personal goals and feel good about their accomplishments. Uthoff Valley builds empathy and pro-social skills in students through class meetings, service opportunities, and buddy activities. All students are celebrated through quarterly “Rock On” assemblies, positive referrals, and lunch with the principal. Principal Connie Browning’s first day at UV was on a Rock On Assembly day. “It was the most incredible experience I have ever had. Every student felt great about supporting friends and about meeting their goals.” Uthoff Valley has high rates of parent involvement and volunteerism; a large group of parent volunteers assists with early-release-day activities so that teachers can engage in staff development.

An Individualized Education Rich in Academics

St. Louis Charter School, St. Louis, M.O.

Comprehensive character education has been a part of St. Louis Charter School’s mission since its inception 11 years ago: “To provide children with an individualized education rich in academics and character.” All classrooms emphasize core values. According to school board member Lynn Yearwood, the values are so embedded in the school that “[t]hey are even woven into board meetings.” St. Louis Charter staff work hard to create community among their students—who come from different parts of the city and from different backgrounds—and to celebrate their differences. Student work and art are everywhere, even on attractively painted ceiling tiles. Staff members monitor data closely and plan program changes in response. The school also uses its data to help individual students improve. St. Louis Charter does an outstanding job of providing professional development opportunities for the entire staff to help them meet the needs of their students.

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.”

School Promotes Core Values to Address Student Needs

Lincoln Elementary School, Troy, M.O.

Lucky the Leopard, the Lincoln mascot, greets students in the morning with his paw raised as a reminder of the school touchstone, Show Your Paw, which reinforces the core values of respect, self-control, accountability, and being ready to learn. All teachers are trained in a districtwide reading program, and the entire school has strengthened its focus on math. Learning abilities are addressed with differentiated instruction strategies. Students have an active voice and choice in the character education process. Lincoln promotes caring attachments through monthly buddy programs, cross-grade student mentors, weekly class meetings, and cooperative learning academic centers. According to parent Tracy Hulbert, Lincoln is “an extension of the home, a nurturing environment that feels like family.”

Core Values and Intrinsic Motivation Help Foster Learning

Kellison Elementary School, Fenton, M.O.

A large, diverse elementary school, Kellison uses core values (or “Tigertudes”) to form a common language. According to former principal Tracy Edwards, “The staff at Kellison works really hard to ensure success for all of our students.” Like other Rockwood schools, Kellison has embraced the Caring School Community (CSC) model. Kellison teachers moved away from extrinsic rewards some time ago, citing an emphasis on goal setting and the support of parents that allowed them to do so. “Trinkets” are no longer found at Kellison. Students participate in service projects for the joy of helping others, not to win a pizza party. According to Edwards, “Each year we continue to see [fewer] office referrals for disrespect, and we solidly believe that this is the result of our concentrated character work.” Kellison has a mature, embedded character initiative that has reached a high level of excellence.

Respectful, Responsible, and Safe Behavior Sends Clear and Consistent Messages

Joseph J. Catena School, Freehold, NJ

Catena School is a model of progress. It is a place where relationships matter, activity abounds, and learning reaches beyond classroom walls and into the outside world. At Catena, every day offers highly engaging opportunities for students to “pass on” compassion and to self-monitor their behavior. Catena is committed to a constant reevaluation of student needs, and staff work toward improving the depth and breadth of their instructional approaches. A common language permeates every space at Catena. The modeling of respectful, responsible, and safe behavior sends clear and consistent messages.

Golden Rule Thrives in Guffey, Mo.

George Guffey Elementary School, Fenton, M.O.


Students recite the “Shine On” character pledge daily, and they strive to be “Guffey’s Gold” by treating one another the way they would want to be treated. Teachers greet their students at the door every day with a smile to welcome them into the classroom and set the tone for the day. According to principal Jackie Waller, “Students at Guffey feel safe and know they are surrounded by caring individuals.” Kristen Pelster, the principal of Ridgewood Middle School (a 2006 NSOC and the school to which the Guffey students proceed upon graduation), comments that she has seen positive changes in the Guffey students who come to her school. She reports that Guffey students are leaders on her campus. Parents and community members declare that the staff is unified in their approach to character.

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.”

Character Education Has Become a Way of Life at this Missouri Elementary School

Crestwood Elementary School, Crestwood, M.O.


Crestwood serves a diverse population, with 15 different languages spoken at home and the highest poverty level in the district. Despite the many challenges of meeting the needs of a diverse population, Crestwood has the highest student achievement among the district’s elementary schools, recently receiving the Missouri Gold Star Award and the National Blue Ribbon Award. Character education, which has been in place at Crestwood since 1989, has evolved into a “way of life,” according to Jim Simpson, the district superintendent. This is a warm and welcoming school with a strong camaraderie among staff, students, and parents. Principal Scott Taylor describes his staff as “wonderful, caring, loving, and great teachers who have high expectations for all students.”

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