Through intentional practices, BEL Air Middle School encourages the character
development of P.R.I.D.E. for all students and staff.
Description of Principles:
Principle 2 - “Character” comprehensively to include
thinking, feeling, and doing
As the character education program at Bel Air Middle School has evolved,
we have created new lessons and initiatives based on student feedback.
All stakeholders at BAMS are involved in what is taught during our weekly
Panther Period lesson time (30 mins per week).
This year, our lessons included:
Cyber Safety - Lessons were created and taught school-wide.
Tips for staying safe while online and on social media as well as how
to protect your identity on the internet were included. We hosted members
from our local Child Advocacy Center as well as law enforcement to present
to our students during grade-level assemblies the dangers and legal ramifications
online activities can have. In addition, that evening, there was a parent
information session that was held at the school to share the information
they need to try to ensure that their children are safe while online.
Organization and Time Management - This school wide lesson gave
students specific strategies to use in order to be more successful in
school. They rated activities in order of most to least important and
were given organizational strategies for their notebooks and planners.
Motivation and Study Skills - This lesson was taught
in November when students need a little push to get them through to winter
break. “What kind of person do I want to be today?” is on
a large poster for all students to see as they enter the school building.
Students engaged in discussions about how this quote can help them set
their goals to be successful. In addition, students watched a video of
a student making many choices; some were not effective and others were.
Students had to decide which choice was best and why.
Random Acts of Kindness - Students learned about what
it means to perform random acts of kindness. As a school-wide activity,
the students were asked to create a card for a soldier who was returning
from deployment or for a sick child at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Students
made well over 1000 cards for these agencies and they were mailed to the
New Year’s Resolutions (6th and 7th grade)
- This lesson was taught in January as students reflected on how they
can show PRIDE (Positive, Respectful, Independent, Determined, and Engaged)
at school as well as at home. There was individual as well as group reflections
about things to work to improve over the next several months left of the
High School Preparation (8th grade)
- The transition to high school is anxiety filled for our eighth graders.
We spent two weeks talking about this change in environment. The first
lesson included a group discussion about what students were most concerned
about regarding the transition to high school. Each homeroom came up with
a list of questions for high school students. The second week, we collaborated
with our high school and had 2-3 high school students in each of the eighth
grade homerooms. The list of questions was compiled and the high school
students eased the mind of the transitioning freshmen.
Perseverance and Determination(7th grade)
- Our 7th graders sometime feel some confusion as they go through many
changes socially, emotionally, and academically. This lesson had students
brainstorm specific ways to persevere in the face of adversity or when
things become difficult. They examined quotes and watched a video (Caine’s
Arcade) in order to watch another young person’s struggle to stick
with something in order for it to be successful.
Pillars of Character(6th grade) - Our first year embedding
character education was built around the Pillars of Character. This year,
the 7th and 8th graders were already familiar with these attributes because
of our student recognition tickets as well as the lessons. We compiled
the lessons that were taught over an entire year into one cohesive lesson
to introduce students to what character is and how it can be measured.
Principle 3 - Uses a comprehensive, intentional,
proactive, and effective approach to character development
Bel Air Middle School has implemented:
* Weekly lesson time that is designated for character
education. During this time, lessons that have been created by our PBIS
team are taught.
* PRIDE tickets which students earn if they demonstrate being Positive,
Respectful, Independent, Determined, or being Engaged. This year, we had
over 2,000 of these tickets written for students. We also have community
donations which we use as prizes for our drawings. Our lobby was filled
with paw prints representing each of the tickets that were written.
*Positive Office Referrals are written for students who
go above and beyond or who have made a big improvement with academic performance
and/or behavior. These students earn a certificate as well as a phone
call home by an administrator.
*Student committee- The student committee has been crucial
in planning lessons, pep rallies, and prizes for students. These students
include diverse representatives from all three grade levels.
*Pep Rallies were held twice this year in order to build
school spirit introduce and reinforce our PRIDE program. In the fall,
each team created a puzzle piece about how they demonstrate PRIDE. There
were presentations of the puzzle pieces and then each team in the grade
level put their pieces together to create Panthers for each grade level.
These hung in the cafeteria all year. We had guest speakers, motivational
team-building games, prize drawings, and school spirit!!! In the spring
we had another pep rally right before PARCC. More than 100 students per
grade level participated in the games. The connection between our PRIDE
program and their performance on PARCC was highlighted. At the end of
year, students were asked how to make these more exciting and engaging
*Staff recognition-In order to ensure that everyone in the building is
demonstrating good character, students and other staff members recognize
the adults working in the building. We include cafeteria workers, custodians,
administrators, classroom teachers, librarians, special education aids,
and unified arts teachers.
Principle 11 - Evaluates the character of the
school, the school’s staff functioning as character educators, and
the extent to which students manifest good character.
Bel Air Middle School includes character education into
the School Improvement Plan. This enables everyone to be more vested in
the initiative. Each and every staff person at the school is assigned
to a classroom during our character lessons. Administrators, physical
education, music, special education, etc. teachers all participate in
delivering the instruction. This process has had a positive impact on
the culture and character of the school. Each staff member writes PRIDE
tickets and participates in the lessons. In addition, teachers try whenever
possible to include discussion into their own curriculum about how to
demonstrate PRIDE. Language Arts teachers have had character analysis
considering the characteristics or PRIDE. Physical education teachers
discuss being positive, respectful, and engaged on a daily basis as they
differentiate instruction for their students. Social studies teachers
discuss how things in history have not followed our PRIDE expectations
and asked students to come up with possible solutions. As a cross-curricular,
school-wide program, students are infused with character education on
a daily basis. We constantly analyze data, including both positive and
negative referrals as well as the number and characteristic of PRIDE tickets
written, teacher recognitions, and student attendance.
The Maryland Center for Character
Educationat Stevenson University
School of Education, 1525 Greenspring Valley Road, Stevenson, MD 21153