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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: Oakville Elementary School

Address: 26410 Three Notch Rd., Mechanicsville, MD. 20659
Principal: Norman Carpenter
E-Mail: nacarpenter@smcps.org

Phone: 301-373-4365


Character Ed. Contact: Kristan Curtis

E-Mail: kvcurtis@smcps.org


Title of Best Practice: Character Counts at Oakville Elementary


Primary Principles Emphasized: 2, 3, and 4


To establish a strong foundation of character education where students will be able to identify with the six pillars of character.


Principle 2: Defines "character" comprehensively to include thinking, feeling, and doing.

Principle 3: Uses a comprehensive, intentional, proactive, and effective approach to character development.

Principle 4: Creates a caring school community.


The school counseling program at Oakville Elementary consists of classroom guidance lessons that are designed to implement character education (Respect, Responsibility, Caring, Fairness, Trustworthiness and Citizenship) in the areas of personal and academic growth, social skills and decision making, and career development. Group and individual counseling are also provided, where those character traits are typically used in helping students address their concerns.
Character education is taught monthly through classroom guidance lessons and school-wide activities. Teaching these traits each month allows for the school counselor to use a comprehensive, intentional, proactive, and effective approach to character development. Students are able to define “character” comprehensively to include the way they think, feel, and complete tasks. The school-wide activities allow for students to show their commitment to character education by promoting a caring school environment.

Each month the “Character Trait of the Month” was announced during morning announcements, classroom guidance lessons, and printed on the school counselor’s newsletter.

Character Counts at Oakville Elementary (School Counselor Responsibility)

September: RESPECT

1. Students (3-5) were introduced to “Steps to Respect” (Bullying Prevention Program)
2. Students (k-2) were introduced to “Second Step” (Social Skills and Academic Awareness Program)
3. Students completed activities that allowed for them to define respect and to show what it looks like.
4. September is “National Good Manners Month”-students identified the relationship between Respect and Good Manners.


October: RESPECT
1. Students (3-5) continued lessons from “Steps to Respect”
2. Students (k-2) continued lessons from “Second Step”
3. October is “National Bullying Prevention Month”-The school participated in Unity Day: Everyone wore Orange to show that we are united together against bullying
4. Students took a pledge to stand-up against bullying by tracing their hands and posting their cut-outs on the bullying prevention board
5. Students participated in Red Ribbon Week: “Respect Yourself, Be Drug Free” and created a poster to show that Oakville Elementary Respects ourselves and pledge to be drug free
6. Students showed their respect for bus drivers with “Thank You” favors and a large banner of appreciation during Bus Driver Appreciation Week.


November: CARING
1. Students (3-5) completed the “Steps to Respect” program
2. Students (k-2) completed “Second Step” activities
3. November is “I am so Thankful Month”-students selected a leaf or acorn to write what they were thankful for and what they cared about most. Those leaves and acorns were added to our Oakville Caring tree that students would pass in the hallway.
4. Students participated in a food drive for the local food pantry
5. Students participated in the “Green Light a Vet” initiative by coloring paper light bulbs to hang around the school, emphasizing their support and care for Veterans.


December: CARING
1. December is “Read a New Book Month”-students listened to a story during classroom guidance lessons and had to put themselves in the character’s shoes (understanding of empathy)
2. Students completed several activities that addressed empathy to help them have a better understanding of how words and actions can hurt
3. Students identified different ways they could address situations through self-evaluations.


1. In small groups students in grades 3-5 provided examples of responsibility and listed them on posters to be displayed in the hallway
2. Students in k-2 completed responsibility worksheets that allowed them to identify tasks that they are responsible for at both school and home
3. Students assisted in organizing a “Penny War” fundraiser for “Pennies for Patients”
4. January is “National Thank You Month”-students completed thank you notes to deliver to those people that have helped them with their education.


February: FAIRNESS
1. During classroom guidance lessons students compared what was fair vs. what was not fair-Students were able to identify that being held responsible for their actions is fair, but getting away with things is not fair
2. During classroom guidance lessons students would identify what was fair within the school environment: everyone gets lunch, everyone has access to bus transportation, everyone has the right to learn
3. Students participated is Black History Month activities that addressed Fairness: In groups they decorated a bus displaying the behavior of Rosa Parks and why the way she was treated was not fair, students also decorated individual people displaying motivational words that Martin Luther King Jr. wished every individual would feel about themselves in efforts to promote fairness.


1. During classroom guidance lessons, students would identify trustworthiness as someone dependable and would share those individuals that they could trust
2. Students completed activities in groups that would allow them to build trust with their peers-Individuals in the group were given topics to discuss with the class, every group member needed to understand their topic and group members needed to trust that each member could complete the task.


1. During classroom guidance lessons, students were provided with examples of good citizenship within the school environment and would be informed of opportunities to give back to the community as well as understand career opportunities that promote good citizenship
2. Throughout the school year student of the month and citizen of month have been selected by teachers-Names have been displayed in the hallway for recognition
3. April is “Keep America Beautiful Month”-students participated in an Earth Day project, cleaning around the school and fixing up the landscape
4. Students participated in “Purple Up Day”-showing appreciation and respect towards those military kids and family members by wearing the color purple.


May: Six Character Traits Reviewed
1. Students completed several activities that raised awareness of the six character traits
2. Students displayed acts of random kindness throughout the month: Recognizing their teachers, complementing their peers, and giving back to the community
3. Students participated in Teacher Appreciation week and delivered kind words each day that aligned with the daily themes
4. Students helped organize and participated in a second fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, “In Your Face Cancer”-And the students wanted to make sure that all staff members participated (It’s only FAIR!)
5. Students participated in career day activities and displayed their good character traits during the speakers presentations.

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

E-Mail: MCCEcharacter@aol.com