Objective(s): Meadowood Education Center creates an environment
that meets academic, social and behavioral needs for students who benefit
from a non-traditional setting through relevance, respect and relationships.
Our vision is to empower students with relevant strategies that are essential
in order to be productive in any environment.
Principle 1: Promotes core ethical values as the basis
of good character.
Meadowood Education Center seeks to instill core ethical
values within all of our students. The development of these skills within
our students are crucial to the successful functioning of our school,
as we seek to develop not only our students’ academic levels, but
also the social-emotional growth and character development of our student
Through weekly morning meetings, students and staff discuss
core ethical values that are relevant to middle-school students and their
advancement to becoming contributing members to society. At weekly meetings,
ethical values such as respecting ourselves and others, empathy, integrity,
and doing the right thing when no one is watching are discussed. Students
and staff engage in powerful school-wide conversations that unite our
school community. Through this process, the character of our or students
in fostered and developed, as they engage in self-assessment of their
own character and moral compasses, and seek to improve in areas in which
they may need work or development. These weekly discussions are then continued
in our “AM Homebase,” in which students complete a series
of activities related to highlighted ethical values including: self-reflective
journal writing, class discussion, role-playing, circle dialogues, art
and design, poster displays, team-building activities.
In addition to our weekly meetings that highlight and
promote core ethical values, students are engaged in a class called “Character
Development” in which these topics are discussed and practiced in
more detail. Character Development class examines specific values and
character traits in detail, and then creates a safe space in which students
discuss their own personal feelings and ideas about specific topics. The
class uses real-life and age-specific scenarios to engage students. Some
projects that students have worked on in this class to build character
include: care packages for cancer patients and raising money for needy
families during the holidays. Students also engage in art and design projects
related to a specific core ethical principles. For example, students created
“Stop Bullying” signs and posted them around the school. Students
also “Paid it forward” by distributing kindness cards and
by competing random acts of kindness. Other areas of focus included perseverance,
respect, and integrity. Students examined famous role models who had exemplary
character and studied how their actions directly impacted society.
Meadowood seeks to highlight core ethical values on a daily basis and
directly implements school-wide opportunities and programs to develop
our student body’s overall character.
Principle 4: Creates a caring school community.
Meadowood is a school that seeks to build relationships
and create a cohesive school community at all times. One of the major
ways in which we do this is through showing mutual respect for others
and through restorative practices. In addition to our weekly meetings
and circle dialogues, we hold restorative circles if any issues arise.
For example, a staff member was upset by the actions of a group of students
and a restorative circle was held to address the issue. Everyone was able
to state their opinion and discuss how they were impacted by other peoples’
actions. Circle dialogues allow for everyone to come to a safe place to
voice their opinion and then allow for a mutual understanding to be reached.
In addition to these dialogues, our student services
team work daily to ensure that students know they are cared for and supported.
Students have weekly check-ins with either a counselor, social worker,
or psychologist to discuss personal character goals and moral dilemmas.
Students are given the individual attention that they need in order to
thrive and enhance their social-emotional development. Every student in
our building has a personalized goal that is tracked through a behavioral
point sheet that is utilized through the day.
We work to create a caring environment at all times,
even when students engage in actions that break rules or hurt others’
emotions. If students disagree or insult each other or a staff member,
we use restorative practices to get to the bottom of the dispute or disagreement
and then hold mediation meetings to restore and rebuild relationships.
It is crucial that students know that even if they make a mistake, they
are cared for and supported. However, it is also crucial that they recognizes
their wrongdoings and take accountability for their actions. Through this
process, students become better individuals who ultimately become more
responsible for themselves and their actions. They also better recognize
how their actions directly impact others.
Principle 6: Includes a meaningful and challenging academic
curriculum that respects all learners, develops their character, and helps
them to succeed.
Our school houses very diverse students that all struggle
with various academic and social-emotional impediments. As an alternative
school, we strive to use alternative practices and curriculums that better
the lives of our students and help them to become better and more competent
Every morning students are read a passage from “Project
Wisdom,” a curriculum that allows for students to think critically
about their own actions and future advancements. Passages may be about
famous role models or may share old proverbs. In their “AM Homebase”
class, students reflect on these passages and discuss as a class their
meaning and how it applies to their own lives.
Students are also exposed to the “Why Try”
curriculum in their character development class. The “Why Try”
curriculum meets students at their own levels of social development and
seeks to improve student motivation levels and enhance overall character
Our weekly character development theme also is tied in
to our academic curriculum, as teachers work to apply these themes to
their lessons and classroom activities. The student services staff also
offer push in support in to the classroom environment to reinforce the
importance of these core ethical values.
Meadowood is an environment that successfully pairs character
development with the academic curriculum. We understand that social emotional
development truly goes hand-in-hand with academic development, and value
the importance of reinforcing, nurturing, and enhancing the character
development and social growth of our students. Through this practice,
we are producing students that will ultimately become more successful,
kind, competent, genuine, and caring adults.
The Maryland Center for Character
Educationat Stevenson University
School of Education, 1525 Greenspring Valley Road, Stevenson, MD 21153