Other Kansas schools recognized for character development
Character development is an integral part of the educational experience for students at Beloit Unified School District 273. Kansas and the nation are celebrating schools within the district that are doing an outstanding job helping students develop positive character traits.
Beloit Junior-Senior High School, Beloit USD 273, was announced Wednesday, May 24, as a 2023 National School of Character.
Recognition is given through the Kansas Schools of Character Recognition Program and sponsoring organizations - Character.org, the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) and the Smoky Hill Education Service Center.
Beloit Junior-Senior High School was among 73 schools across the country to be designated a state-level School of Character in January 2023 by Character.org, a national advocate and leader for character development in schools and communities.
Earlier this week, the school was one of 36 schools and two school districts certified as 2023 National Schools and Districts of Character by Character.org.
“We are pleased to announce and celebrate the schools and school districts that have earned this national recognition,” said Dr. Arthur Schwartz, president of Character.org. “Each of these schools has put in place a comprehensive approach to help students understand, care about and consistently practice the character strengths that will help them flourish in schools, in relationships, in the workplace, and as citizens.”
Character.org will honor the 2023 National Schools and Districts of Character at its next International Forum, which will take place Nov. 6-7 in Washington, D.C.
This isn’t the first time that Beloit USD 273 has been in the national spotlight for its focus on character education. Beloit Elementary School last year was named a 2022 State School of Character and a 2022 National School of Character. Beloit Junior-Senior High was recognized as a 2018 State School of Character and a 2018 National School of Character.
Beloit Junior-Senior High School began to delve into character education during the 2013-2014 school year. Since then, the school has continued to build on its strong social, emotional and character development framework and culture.
Beloit Junior-Senior High School’s core values – Positive, Responsible, Integrity, Determination and Excellence, also known as PRIDE – are infused throughout every aspect of the school, from policies and procedures to academics, athletics and behavioral supports.
Students take part in PRIDE time (advisory period) at the beginning of the school day and at the end of the school day on Mondays and Fridays. Staff members at Beloit Junior-Senior High think this time is so important, that the meeting time increased from 100 minutes to 164 minutes, according to information provided by Smoky Hill Service Center. During PRIDE time, students focus on Habits of the Week, Character Trait of the Month, social-emotional and character development skill lessons, and service learning. Students also go over grades with advisers and take part in book studies during PRIDE time.
PRIDE advisory groups also meet at the end of the day on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Advisers stay with the members of their PRIDE groups for six years in order to build strong relationships and mentoring opportunities, according to the Smoky Hill Service Center. The 10-to-1 student-to-teacher/adviser ratio emphasizes the importance of teacher-to-student relationships.
The school’s phone-free lunch, peer mentoring and Student Advisory Team also provide opportunities for students to build relationships and school connections. The school’s focus on character education isn’t just led by administrators. Staff members are involved, too, by serving on the Character Education Committee and by discussing character education at staff meetings and in-service sessions.
During the past five years, 30 new courses, many based on student suggestions, have been added. Six facility redesign initiatives also have been finished in the past four years, including a library redesign and the addition of a coffee shop, greenhouse, STEM lab, JAG classroom and two outdoor learning areas.
Remington Elementary School, Remington USD 206, was recognized as an Honorable Mention School of Character through the Kansas State Schools of Character Recognition Program.
“Remington has had an intentional focus on building relationships and integrating character throughout the building and classroom,” the Smoky Hill Service Center’s website states.
The elementary school has placed an emphasis on student voice and leadership. Each grade is responsible for tasks. For example, the fourth-grade class is the Saddle Up leadership group. The group is responsible for hosting a monthly assembly to recognize students for practicing good character. Members of the Saddle Up group also volunteer on the school’s service teams. The service teams include mentoring; welcoming students once a week as they enter classrooms; and “school service,” where students pick up trash, deliver items to teachers and water plants.
The school’s “Big 3 Core Values” are:
Bickerdyke Elementary School, Russell USD 407, was designated as an Emerging School of Character through the Kansas State Schools of Character Recognition Program. Staff and student voice are a key part of Bickerdyke Elementary School’s character education journey. The school has created a Student Leadership team, and school climate surveys take place in the fall and spring. Staff members can serve on the General Education Intervention team and/or the Building Leadership team. Staff members also meet bi-weekly in their Professional Leadership Communities, and grade-level teachers meet once per month to plan and collaborate.
Students and community members learn from each other during Lunch and Learn sessions. Students get to learn about a variety of careers, and these sessions allow students and adults from the community to make connections.
The State Schools of Character award program recognizes schools and districts that have worked to enhance social, emotional and character development. Character.org certifies schools and districts at the state level that demonstrate a dedicated focus on character development, which has been shown to have a positive effect on academic achievement, student behavior and school climate, according to character.org. Character.org was founded in 1993 and is a national nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. Since its inception, Character.org’s Schools of Character program has impacted 3 million students, staff members, parents and other community members.
Criteria for selection are based on Character.org’s 11 Principles of Character, which include providing students with opportunities for moral action, fostering shared leadership and engaging families and communities as partners in the character-building effort.
More information on Kansas’ Social, Emotional and Character Development Standards, which the state adopted in 2012, is available at http://www.ksde.org/Agency/Division-of-Learning-Services/Career-Standards-and-Assessment-Services/Content-Area-M-Z/School-Counseling/Social-Emotional-and-Character-Development. The 11 Principles of Effective Character Education by Character.org are available at www.character.org.
For more information about State Schools of Character or National Schools of Character, visit https://character.org/. For more information about KSDE, visit www.ksde.org. For more information about Smoky Hill Education Service Center and to watch videos on the Kansas schools that were recognized, click here.
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