Five Schools Recognized Nationally for Character Programs

Five Guilford County Schools (GCS) earned the Character Education Partnership's Promising Practice Award, which showcases innovative best practices in character education.

Southern High, Weaver Academy, Vandalia Elementary, Oak Hill Elementary and Jefferson Elementary earned five of the 297 awards that were given to individual schools, districts and organizations from across the U.S., as well as from Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong and Mexico.

The Character Education Partnership (CEP) received a record-breaking 537 applicants. "We are very proud of these schools, and are especially grateful to these principals and educators who are leading the way in our character development initiative," said Brenda Elliott, executive director of student services and character development. "From leading service projects to tutoring younger students, GCS students are developing good character as they build stronger communities."

This year's winning practices include unique anti-bullying programs, successful integration of academics and character, self-motivation and goal-setting strategies, service-learning activities, and community outreach:

  • Southern High was recognized for its new service-learning program for ninth-graders. Cynthia Parks, the counselor for this year's ninth-graders, developed the semester-long program. Ninth-graders studied the character traits and put together a poster campaign around the school promoting each trait. In addition, each class also organized its own service-learning project, which was completed in December.
  • Weaver Academy was recognized for its production of children's books. The project started when Cirt Gill, the music production teacher, created a writing assignment for his students, which ultimately expanded to support literacy and character education in GCS' elementary schools. Music production and art students wrote stories, provided illustrations and recorded sound effects for children's books that focus on character education. After production of the books, the students read the books to their younger peers and donated the books to the schools.
  • Jefferson Elementary began the "Kids Helping Kids Puppet Show" as a unique way to promote character development. The puppet show, facilitated by school counselor Kesha Spicer, focuses on a different character trait each month and is aired on the Jefferson Elementary morning show each week. Students at all grade levels are engaged in thinking about how to display good character as they view the show and relate to the feelings about character portrayed by the puppets.
  • Oak Hill Elementary also used puppets to lead discussions about character traits. According to counselor Gwen Adamson, the goal of the Puppet Theatre was to unify the school and ensure that all students and staff were on common ground. The school's Puppet Theater introduced traits like responsibility, kindness and courage through popular fables. "The Three Little Pigs" told from the point of view of the Wolf allowed students to understand that there are always different perspectives in every situation. The puppet theatre occurred each quarter and was led by fifth-graders, allowing for additional teamwork and leadership opportunities. Stories also included important moments in history and anti-bullying themes.
  • At Vandalia Elementary, counselor Kelly Ingram and her students in the Cougar Care Club have gathered in Greensboro's Centre City Park on Saturdays throughout the school year to feed the homeless. Regardless of the weather, the Cougars arrive with water, juice, crackers, bananas and other snacks. This commitment to serving those in need began with members of service-learning club, but grew to include Vandalia families at every grade level.

CEP will honor the 2012 recipients at the 19th Annual National Forum on Character Education in Washington, D.C. from Nov. 1-3.