Program Recognizes Accomplishments, Efforts of Developing Comprehensive Character Education Initiatives in Schools
On Thursday, October 6, 2011, representatives from Mt. Savage School will attend an awards luncheon to receive a Maryland Center for Character Education at Stevenson University (MCCE@SU) School of the Year Award for the school’s efforts and accomplishments in instituting and developing comprehensive character education initiatives. MCCE focuses on identifying, celebrating and sharing character-development “best practices” of schools throughout the state to raise awareness and serve as a clearinghouse of information on character education.
Schools were asked to address a minimum of three character education standards which are based on the Character Education Partnership’s Eleven Principles of Effective Character Education. These standards outline key components of effective character education and allow schools and districts to assess their efforts in relation to these criteria. Mt. Savage chose to highlight their efforts in character education in the areas of creating a caring school community, fostering shared moral leadership and long-range support of their character education initiative, and engaging the school’s staff as a learning and moral community that shares responsibility for character education and attempts to adhere to the same core values that guide the education of students.
Mt. Savage’s school community cares about the social and academic needs of its students as well as the needs of its staff and parents. Staff provides extra tutoring to struggling students and goes the extra mile to attend after school events to partner with parents to support the students and the community. Additionally, teachers pair students in a variety of methods to promote pro-social behavior while working in groups and always model appropriate behavior while working with others. The school also follows the PBIS model to promote positive behaviors. To extend caring into the community, Mt. Savage strives to be a welcoming place that reaches out to its neighbors. The school participates in canned food drives, donate to local food pantries, and collect money for global disaster relief.
Shared leadership is a priority at Mt. Savage. Both the principal and assistant principal serve as members of the PBIS and School Improvement Teams. Other team members include grade level teachers, special education teachers, school counselors, and school psychologists. Monthly celebrations recognize the accomplishments of good character traits, and each month a different grade level teaching team is responsible for organizing the event. PTA members and other parents are also included in decision-making at Mt. Savage.
All staff members at Mt. Savage work collaboratively to model positive character traits and behaviors through the implementation of various programs. They consistently teach and model good traits through the use of established behavior matrices which define acceptable ways in which students and staff can be safe, respectful and responsible. In addition, each summer staff members attend a PBIS summer institute to further develop their skills in the area of character education, and the PBIS team provides ongoing, year-round professional development to all staff members.
According to the school’s assistant principal, Shannon Imes, “Behavior and character data is constantly being reviewed so that individual plans and instruction can be provided. Staff reflects on and revises behaviors throughout the year so that our school can continue to strive to better our character education program and provide an ethical learning community for everyone.”