GCS Named North Carolina District of Character

Guilford County Schools (GCS) was named the 2013 North Carolina District of Character by the Social Studies Division of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. GCS is now competing against the other state award-winners to be named the National District of Character.

The National Schools of Character Program is administered by the Character Education Partnership (CEP) in Washington, D.C. GCS will be eligible for the national award for three years. In the next month, CEP will evaluate all the state winners and select finalists to provide additional information and possibly receive site visits. The National District of Character will be selected in March.

"Our district has done a lot of work over the past few years to address the importance of character education in our schools," said Brenda Elliott, executive director of Student Services and Character Development. "Receiving this award from the state is a big honor and we are looking forward to the national competition. We are proud of our accomplishments in character education and service-learning."

Character development was a big piece of the Strategic Plan 2012, and focused on educating the whole child - graduating students who were academically ready as well as prepared to serve in their communities and the world as a whole. The initiative continues in Strategic Plan 2016: Achieving Educational Excellence: Personalizing Learning. The three fundamental elements of the Character Development Initiative are character education, civic education, and service-learning.

All 124 GCS schools are engaged in character development and service-learning. In just one year, GCS high schoolers gave more than 160,000 hours of service to schools and our community. More than 500 seniors from the Class of 2012 earned the district's first service-learning diploma for completing 175 hours of service, and another 350 seniors earned the service-learning exemplary award for completing 75 hours of service.

In June 2012, five GCS schools - Southern High, Weaver Academy, Vandalia Elementary, Oak Hill Elementary and Jefferson Elementary - earned the Character Education Partnership's Promising Practice Award, which showcases innovative best practices in character education. GCS earned five of the 297 awards given to individual schools, districts and organizations from across the U.S., as well as from Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong and Mexico.