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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.

OCTOBER

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

 

BEST CHARACTER EDUCATION PRACTICES

 

School: Annapolis Elementary School

Address: 180 Green St., Annapolis, MD 21401
Principal: Bobbie Kesecker
E-Mail: Bkesecker@aacps.org

Phone: 410-222-1600

 

Character Ed. Contact: Andrea Beckman

E-Mail: ambeckman@aacps.org

 

Title of Best Practice: We Are Annapolis Elementary: A School Community At Hope (Kids at Hope & PBIS)

 

Primary Principles Emphasized: 4, 5, 7, & 8

 

Objective(s):

Annapolis Elementary strives to be a school community that believes that all children are capable of success, no exceptions. We do this by expressing our beliefs in our students, connecting them with meaningful relationships with adults, and helping them to articulate their goals and dreams for the future. We foster positive relationships with all adults, or Treasure Hunters, in the building to support our positive school culture. Students are explicitly taught ways to help their school community and to strive to be their best each day as Kids at Hope.

 

Description of Principles:

 

Principle 4 - Creates a caring school community.


As a community, we try to foster good citizenship and kindness to others. Some school-wide efforts to help others include: Donating food for the Harvest for the Hungry Food Drive, performing and making cards for seniors and at our local senior centers over the holidays, collecting donations during our Mitten Tree warm clothing drive, raising money for Pennies for Patients, supporting families with a Backpack Buddies weekend food program (run by our own school and local community), and running a summer reading book drive to provide reading materials to our own students who don’t have any in the home. Our older students are paired with younger students as reading buddies to develop peer mentor relationships and further connect our students as learners and leaders.

 

This year, we have created new opportunities to bring our school together as a caring community. Every other month, students are able to use their “respect tickets” to participate in a Gator Celebration with a partner class from a different grade level. They collaborate with other students to celebrate good choices. On the alternate months, there is a school-wide Gator Celebration that all students participate in to build community and encourage good choices.

 

Principle 5 - Provides students with opportunities for moral action.

 

One of the unique programs at Annapolis Elementary is the National Elementary Honor Society. To qualify, 4th and 5th grade students need to demonstrate excellence in academics, leadership, community service, and responsibility. Once inducted, the students are given the opportunity to come up with ways to help our school and/or local community. As student leaders, they are charged with taking the initiative to do something good for others. They helped to raise money for Pennies for Patients (benefiting children with cancer), created a garden on our school property to beautify the school, donated books for children to read over the summer, and many other initiatives over the past several years.


Principle 7 - Strives to foster students’ self-motivation.

Each morning, the students say the Kids at Hope Pledge: I am a Kid at Hope, I am talented, smart, and capable of success. I will respect myself, others, learning, and property. I have dreams for the future and I will climb to reach those goals and dreams every day. All kids are capable of success, NO EXCEPTIONS!

 

We teach students how positive self-talk can help them overcome challenges and persevere. These daily affirmations help as a reminder to students that they can do whatever they set their mind to and to believe in themselves. In addition to our daily Kids at Hope pledge, the school counselor also teaches weekly lessons that often teach coping skills to help students stay motivated when work gets tough.

 

For students who are self-motivated and demonstrate strong character, we give monthly Awesome Alligator awards. Students learn about the character trait during their weekly lessons with the school counselor and are celebrated on the morning announcements with a special certificate and Kids at Hope lapel pin. All staff members are encouraged to nominate a student each month for these awards. The goal is to recognize as many strengths in our students throughout the school year as possible. These awards are given in the following order:

 

September: Respect
October: Citizenship
November: Responsibility
December: Generosity
January: Honesty
February: Kindness
March: Perseverance
April: Creativity
May: Leadership

 

Principle 8: Engages the school staff as a learning and moral community that shares responsibility for character education and attempts to adhere to the same core values that guide the education of students.


Our entire staff participates as members of our PBIS committee. This new practice has engaged the staff in the proactive approach to decrease discipline referrals and increase student success. Teachers are able to give their input, which increases their buy-in with new initiatives. In order to model positive behaviors and leadership that we are encouraging in our students, the staff gives each other “Gator Shout Outs” to recognize the strengths of the adults in the building.

 

In addition to modeling making good moral choices, our entire staff articulates the belief that all children are capable of success, no exceptions, through our Kids at Hope Report Card Day. Each staff member participates in writing Kids at Hope Report Cards for each student which only celebrates their talents and strengths and potential uses for those talents in the future. Students then use that report card as a building block to inspire and encourage them to develop their own goals and dreams for the future and the steps to achieve them.

Another effort that the entire staff makes to recognize good character is our Positive Praise Referrals. They are an intentional way to recognize students making good choices to help encourage our school community in a positive way. Students receive a “golden ticket” worth 10 respect tickets when they receive a Positive Praise Referral and are recognized by the principal on the announcements. Their Positive Praise Referral is also hung on display for a month for the school community to see and celebrate!

 

 

 

 

 

 


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


E-Mail: MCCEcharacter@aol.com