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This Month's Best Practice

Each Month the Maryland Center for Character Education at Stevenson University (MCCE@SU) picks one of the Best Practices from a Character Education award winning school to share with you.


This month's Best Practices is from an award winning school from 2015-2016.




School: Northern Middle School

Address: 371 Pride Parkway, Accident, MD 21520
Principal: Karen DeVore
E-Mail: karen.devore@garrettcountyschools.org

Phone: 301-746-8165


Character Ed. Contact: Jenna Hankinson

E-Mail: jenna.hankinson@garrettcountyschools.org


Title of Best Practice:PBIS/Second Step


Primary Principles Emphasized: All 11 principles are emphasized



To provide a middle school environment where students are Prepared, Attentive,


Northern Middle School implements the PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports) Program and has been awarded the Maryland GOLD Recognition Award for the past five school years. This level of recognition is reserved for those schools that have demonstrated sustainability for the systems, practices, and data utilization for school-wide positive behavior interventions and supports as well as positive effects on both school discipline and achievement data.


To reinforce character development, the Second Step program is implemented school wide as an interactive approach for students and faculty. The program teaches skills of empathy, communication, bullying prevention, emotion management, coping with stress, problem solving, decision making, goal setting, and substance abuse prevention. The morning news program is utilized daily to reinforce positive character traits and always opens with our PAWS mantra, reminding students to be Prepared, Attentive, Working, and Safe. Northern Middle School recognizes individual students who demonstrate positive characteristics and pictures of the winners are posted each month in the newspaper. At the end of the year, all of the monthly winners go on a field trip to Garrett College to learn about college and career readiness. We also build rapport with the high school and community through programs where JROTC members and community members mentor our middle school students and work on various character traits.


We have designed Tier 2 group interventions for students who are at risk for retention or early school withdrawal due to low grades and social issues. HEROES is a group for boys and Afternoon Tea is for girls. Both groups focus on increasing the sense of belonging at school and providing character education extensions that students can use to improve their relationships at school and elsewhere. In HEROES, we highlight Honesty, Empathy, Responsibility, Optimism, Energy, and Self-Management. In Afternoon Tea, we discuss GRACE, which highlights Genuineness, Respect, Ambition, Courage, and Empathy. Sessions are scheduled weekly as the school calendar allows.


Programs such as academic intervention and gifted/talented are available to meet the diverse needs of all students. Family and community support largely impacts Northern Middle School’s success. 100% of parents/guardians are contacted throughout the school year via conferences, team meetings, volunteer events, field trips, community drives, and after-school activities.


Red Ribbon Week


Student Council raising money for Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation


6th grade painting a buddy bench based on the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio


Morning News


September Character Trait (Self-Discipline and Control) Winners




The Maryland Center for Character Education at Stevenson University
School of Education, 1525 Greenspring Valley Road, Stevenson, MD 21153

E-Mail: MCCEcharacter@aol.com