“Most often you read news stories about the negative aspects of education,” says CEP President and CEO Mark Hyatt. “These schools have faced the same challenges—budget reductions, increased class sizes, a lack of resources—but they’ve managed to maintain a focus on the students and holding high standards. We want to help tell the stories of these schools to give inspiration to others, to say ‘you can succeed too.’”
The National Schools of Character come from a variety of settings – urban, suburban, and rural—and 15 different states. The list includes 18 public elementary schools, 1 K-8 public school, 2 public middle schools, 1 K-8 charter school, 1 public high school, 2 public alternative schools, 3 public school districts (1 large urban, 1 small suburban, 1 high school district), and 1 national charter school “district” (headquarters). One school, Chesterfield Elementary School, is a second time winner.
Most of those selected as National Schools of Character demonstrate growth in terms of academics (increasing or high test scores), behavior (reduction in disciplinary actions), and climate (survey results show students feel safe and respected). For example, Mehlville High School’s reading scores went from 38% to 70% passing in 5 years; math scores increased from 47% to 67% passing in 5 years; meanwhile disciplinary referrals decreased 26% in 3 years.
All of the schools have created caring, supportive school communities that meet the needs of students.
Last month, CEP representatives visited North Star Academy in Parker, to the school’s character education philosophy and service learning initiative in action.
“Students, staff and parents spent the day touring, interviewing and observing. We were so proud of how our students conducted themselves. The organization was impressed with our students’ behavior and complimented our school for all of the service we provide inside and outside of the classroom,” explained North Star Academy reading teacher Neelam Jain.
The school exemplified it’s service learning this week, when its leadership council delivered more than 1,400 books to Children’s Hospital of Colorado.
“The staff at Children’s Hospital was speechless as we continued to unload box after box of brand new books,” Jain said. “One of the coordinators told us that the books came at the perfect time. Sadly, the hospital was hit with a virus that wiped out their library resulting in the disposal of books. While this brought tears to our eyes, it will bring smiles to many children in the hospital.”
To learn how your school can become a school of character, download CEP’s framework, the 11 Principles of Effective Character Education.
2013 National Schools National Schools of Character:
Apollo Beach Elementary School (K-5), Apollo Beach, FL
Beasley Elementary School (K-5), St. Louis, MO
Berlin Community School (PK – 8), Berlin, NJ
Bierbaum Elementary School (K-5), St. Louis, MO
Burgess Elementary School (PreK – 5), Myrtle Beach, SC
Carmel Elementary School (K-5), Woodstock, GA
Chesterfield Elementary School (K–5), Chesterfield, MO
Cleveland Elementary School (PreK-5), Cleveland, NY
Discovery Ridge Elementary School (K-5), O'Fallon, MO
Doby's Mill Elementary School (K-5), Lugoff, SC
Hagemann Elementary School (PreK-5), St. Louis, MO
Henry C. Beck Middle School (6-8), Cherry Hill, NJ
Independence Elementary School (K-5), St. Charles, MO
Jefferson City Academic Center (9-12), Jefferson City, MO
Kay Granger Elementary School (K-5), Keller, TX
LaSalle Springs Middle School (6-8), Wildwood, MO
Madison Park Elementary School (K-5), Parlin, NJ
Mary B. Neal Elementary (PreK-5), Waldorf, MD
Mehlville High School (9-12), Saint Louis, MO
North Pointe Elementary School (PreK-5), Houston, TX
North Star Academy (K-8), Parker, CO
Rougher Alternative Academy (7-12), Muskogee, OK
Round Top Elementary School (PreK-5), Blythewood, SC
Vestavia Hills Elementary East (K-3), Vestavia Hills, AL
West Maple Elementary School (K-5), Bloomfield Hills, MI