Guilford County Board of Education
July 29, 2010
To:Members, Board of Education
From:Maurice O. Green, Superintendent
Beth L. Folger, Chief Academic Officer
Brenda Elliott-Johnson, Executive Director for Student Services
Date:July 23, 2010
RE:Character Development Update
Since the launch of the Character Development Initiative at the State of Our Schools’ event on January 26, 2010, nine of the 31 deliverables or tasks for this project have been completed. There are currently 17 tasks in process and on schedule. The remaining five tasks will begin fall 2010. A summary of the major accomplishments is provided below. Additionally, a number of attachments are provided for your review.
1. Monthly Character Traits: During each month of the 2010-11 school year, GCS students and employees will highlight a character trait. Schools may chose to highlight the traits in unique ways to include reading books that highlight stories or people where the specific character trait was important, bring in guest speakers to talk about the importance of the specific trait in their lives and careers or recognizing students who exhibit this character. Departments may chose to discuss how the specific character trait is important to the success of our organization, how it relates to the expectations set in the GCS Employee Code of Ethics, or how it helps us to deliver respectful and responsive service to our students and their families.
2. Infusing Character Development into our Curriculum: In collaboration with the Curriculum and Organizational Development department, a Theory of Change Model was developed to map out the plan to integrate character development (with an emphasis on using service learning as an instructional strategy) into our curriculum. This model includes a plan to develop service learning thematic units in all content areas and grade levels over the next three years, summer training for a teacher-leader in each school that will facilitate training throughout the school-year, and monthly training for principals and curriculum facilitators.
3. Development of Service Learning Thematic Units: This summer 58 teachers, curriculum specialists and curriculum facilitators spent a total of 12 days receiving training on the use of service learning as an instructional strategy and creating service learning thematic units aligned to the North Carolina Standard Course of Study. This work was facilitated by two consultants from NYLC and three district curriculum specialists. The school district received a $30,000 Learn N’ Serve grant through Communities In Schools of North Carolina to help support this work.
4. Service Learning Training: On July 12th and 13th, 122 school-level teacher leaders attended GCS’ First Annual Service Learning Institute. Consultants from the National Youth Leadership Council facilitated the training with the assistance of the district’s Character Development Director and Student Assistance Coaches. Additionally, during the Leadership Institute, the following workshops will be provided for our staff: Creating A Character Strong School District – Positively Impacting Our Schools and Our Communities and READ ON! The Service Learning Literature Connection.
5. Habitat for Humanity Project: GCS students and staff have spent 20 Saturdays over the past six months volunteering on this project. A total of 289 volunteers have been involved and more than 2000 volunteer hours have been donated. The construction of the house is nearing completion and a dedication ceremony will be held on July 31, 2010.
6. Service Learning Optional Graduation Award and Diploma: A sub-committee of the Character Development Deployment team in collaboration with the curriculum and counseling departments, researched national models of service learning and student service diplomas and graduation honors and created a framework for a GCS Service Learning Graduation diploma and awards. In addition to staff review, input was solicited from the Principal Advisory Council, Teacher Advisory Council, and Student Advisory Council. The deployment team is currently working with the Technology Department to develop an electronic system to record hours that students would earn in pursuit of these optional awards.
7. Character Development Week: In March, GCS rolled out the character development fundamental and traits to our schools via a Character Development Week. Each day, events took place in our schools to highlight the three fundamentals of our initiative: character education, civic education and service learning. Schools created unique ways to inform their students, staff and parents about the importance of good character and the school district’s plans to intentionally integrate character development into our schools and how GCS does business.
8. Development of Character Education Website: The website went live on Tuesday, January 26 and continues to be updated to provide resources to our students, teachers, staff, and parents. Components of the website include the district’s vision for this work; Character Initiative team; the three Character Education fundamentals – character education, civic education and service learning; our character traits and definitions; a calendar of events; grant opportunities; service learning/student service graduation options; staff development; student and staff recognitions; links to sample lesson plans; and links to national organizations that foster character education; civic education and service learning work.
9. School Improvement Plan: The GCS School Improvement Planning template has been revised to include a place for school-level stakeholders to set goals around character education, civic education and service learning.
10. Partnerships: On Friday, May 28th, the district held a “Celebration of Character” event to highlight new partnerships. In addition to partnerships with Habitat for Humanity and National Conference for Community and Justice which were announced at the State of Our School event, four new partnerships were announced. The new Character Development Initiative Partnerships are with the following organizations and agencies:
1. Communities In Schools of North Carolina – This organization is currently managing the state’s Learn N’ Serve grants. CIS of North Carolina has provided appropriately $35,000 to support the integration of service learning into the curriculum;
2. Campus Compact – This organization, which is housed on the campus of Elon College, focuses on providing building the capacity of colleges and universities to produce civically-engaged graduates and to strength communities. Its current membership includes 45 North Carolina college and university chancellors and presidents;
3. UNC-Greensboro, Office of Leadership and Service Learning – This department vision is to provide opportunities for every student on the university’s campus to effect positive change in society. The department currently has a number of service project in GCS; and
4. Youth Volunteer Corps of Guilford County – This is the only North Carolina affiliate of the international Youth Volunteer Corps. This organization mission is to create and increase volunteer opportunities to enrich youth, address community needs and develop a lifetime commitment to service. The YVC focuses on engaging youth ages 11-18 in structured, supervised service learning projects in and out of school.
11. Character Development for All Employees: Strategies are being implemented to focus on supporting the development of good character in our employees. Some strategies include: reviewing the Employee Code of Ethics with our employees on an annual basis, creating a Character Development module to include in our New Employee Orientation training; including a character development module in the New Teacher Induction training; and creating additional opportunities for our staff to positively impact our community through service.
12. Excelling in Public Education Task Force: A Character Development Study Group composed of GCS staff and members of our faith, non-profit, and business community and city government have come together to study how the community could support what the school district is doing to positively impact character development by focusing on what can be done to support character development in children and youth outside the school day.
13. Character Education Policy: The Character Development Policy and Procedures is currently posted for public review after its second reading.
Attachment #1 - GCS Character Development Monthly Themes
Attachment #2 - Character Development/Service Learning Model
Attachment #3 - District-wide Expansion of Character Development Strategies
Attachment #4 - Character Development Flyer
Attachment #5 - Character Development Week Flyer
Attachment #6 - Character Development Newsletter
Attachment #7 - Celebration of Character Flyer
Attachment #8 - Project Status Report
Attachment #9 - Presentation