Objective(s): To strengthen and maintain our positive school
culture by nurturing relationships amongst students and staff.
For many years, our principal visited all classrooms
to conduct class meetings. His main goal was to establish relationships
with students. He truly valued the experience of learning each student’s
name and learning more about each student’s interests, goals, concerns,
etc... Additionally, he wanted to model class meetings for classroom teachers
to empower them to continue to build and nurture relationships through
class meetings of their own. Participating in professional development
with Dara Feldman, validated the importance of class meetings and further
equipped teachers and staff with additional tools to purposefully facilitate
community circles. With our new learning, community circles are taking
place daily. Relationships are being strengthened and students are able
to articulate what they are thinking, how they are feeling, and express
reasons for their actions. As our school moves forward in planning for
the 2017-18 school year, community circle time is being built in to the
Title of Best Practice: Professional Development: Dara Feldman,
Founder of The Virtues Project. Presentation packet titled: Bringing Joy,
Meaning and Purpose Back to Teaching and Learning.
Objective(s): To develop and deepen our staff’s understanding
of virtues language and how to apply a restorative approach when creating
safe, caring, and high performing learning communities.
On April 4, and April 27, 2017, approximately 40 members
of our staff engaged in professional development sessions with Dara Feldman,
from 4:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m.. During both sessions our staff gained
a deeper understanding of restorative practice techniques, as well as
the value and impact of utilizing virtues language. Participation in the
professional development sessions empowered teachers in promoting core
ethical values, developing consistent and comprehensive approaches to
character development, and in maintaining a caring school community. Participation
in this activity also fostered a shared commitment for providing moral
leadership and in evaluating our current functioning as character educators.
Immediately after each session, our staff was eager to implement the language
and techniques we learned from Dara Feldman.
Objective(s): To demonstrate correct ways to display and exemplify
In the beginning of the 2016-17 school year, teachers
and students in each grade level, worked collaboratively to create and
act out scenarios that demonstrated non-examples and examples of virtuous
behavior. Videos were shared weekly on televised morning announcements
for the school community. This activity, provided students and teachers
the opportunity to promote good character in a fun and purposeful way.
The videos provide concrete examples of how a caring school community
thinks, feels and acts.
Title of Best Practice: Career Awareness Program and 5th Grade
Visit to Towson University
Objective(s): To foster an awareness of college and career readiness
opportunities and preparation.
Our school prides itself on not only focusing on making
our students successful in the present, but also on preparing them for
excellence in the future. There are two unique and exciting opportunities
our 5th graders have had access to that have increased enthusiasm, determination
and self-motivation for college and career readiness.
To shed light on possible occupations or career choices,
two teachers from our school facilitate the Career Awareness Program yearly.
Students reflect on their personal interests and strengths and then research
how they connect to potential career paths. Guest speakers from various
occupations visit and share their job descriptions and provide students
with a glimpse into their field and how to prepare for that job. Students
also participate in mock job interviews to develop skills such as friendliness,
assertiveness and confidence when speaking and listening.
Further, we are a Professional Development school that
partners with Towson University to support pre-service teachers in their
internship experience. Because of this, we have been fortunate to organize
and arrange more than several trips for our 5th graders to visit the Towson
University campus. Students have been able to tour classrooms, experience
eating in the dining hall, and visit the student union as well as cultural
arts and sports related facilities to experience a day in the life of
a college student.
Both activities are proactive approaches to college and career options
for our students. The experience allows for students to begin thinking
of their future and to set goals that will help them succeed now and as
they continue their educational journey
Title of Best Practice: Extracurricular Experiences: Days of
Battle of the Books, Ballroom Dance
Objective(s): To provide students with experiences outside of
the classroom that promote virtues of cooperation, courage, and initiative.
Not only do students need academic skills and experiences,
but they also need exposure to extracurricular activities that build their
character and make them well-rounded, productive, and globally prepared
citizens. Our school offers three such opportunities for our students.
Participating in Days of Taste provides our urban students with an understanding
of the farm to table process. Students visit a farm as wells prepare a
meal to eat using ingredients from the local farm. Battle of the Books
is a Baltimore County Public Library sponsored event, calling on students
to read from a collection of Black Eyed Susan award winning books, and
then to compete against other schools in answering questions of varying
levels based on the various books. Finally Ballroom Dance is a program
offered electively through Baltimore County Public Schools. This program
teaches students several forms of ballroom dance, with a culmination of
a grand performance for parents at the end of a full week of learning
Each activity asks the students and teachers to call
on virtues such as trust, consideration, enthusiasm, determination, and
responsibility. In these new and exciting learning situations, students
further develop their character in a different, yet comprehensive way.
They are able to witness how their virtues, behaviors and attitudes impact
others and our world outside the four walls of a classroom. These activities
also engage our families and community members as our partners in the
character-building effort and process.
Title of Best Practice: Teacher Appreciation Week 2017:Honoring
the Gifts of You
Primary Principles Emphasized: 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, &
Objective(s): To promote, reinforce, and acknowledge the virtuous
gifts of our staff.
Each year Teacher Appreciation Week is celebrated across
Baltimore County Public Schools. This year we chose to honor our staff
and the work we have committed to do together in implementing restorative
practices and in utilizing virtues language. We felt it would be purposeful
to first recognize the many virtues our staff brings to educating our
students daily. Each day of the week, teachers were greeted with a virtue
that our staff demonstrates collectively. Treats and gifts were centered
around the virtue. By doing this, teachers became more enthusiastic in
using the language and in recognizing the virtue in themselves and in
Title of Best Practice: Daily student check-ins with
Objective(s): To support students in their behavior choices by
fostering self-motivation, integrity, and self-discipline.
In order to support students who may need a more intentional
approach to character development, our administrators have facilitated
daily check-ins with identified students from all grade levels. Students
check-in in the morning, mid-day and before dismissing for the day. During
the check-ins daily or weekly goals are set and students develop a plan
for self-discipline and discuss ways they will work to meet their goal.
Each administrator also suggests and guides ways for the student to think
and act in a more moral and ethical way. Although students earn a tangible
celebration for their efforts, the more desirable outcome is to make the
students intrinsically motivated to demonstrate good character and virtuous
Objective(s): To encourage and allow students to develop and
demonstrate positive leadership skills while serving as role-models for
Each year 10-12 fifth grade students are chosen to be
members of the Owings Mills Elementary School Safety Program. Students
are required to complete an application and write a short essay explaining
why they qualified for the position. Students are then selected by a panel
of teachers. Students who are selected demonstrate virtues of friendliness,
orderliness, respect, responsibility, trustworthiness, self-discipline,
confidence, and honesty as they take their posts in the morning and afternoons
to remind students of safe hallway expectations and behavior. Safeties
serve as role models for our students and are admired and respected.
Title of Best Practice: Canned Food Drive/Pantry, School Book
Objective(s): To act in service and compassion to provide for
students and families who experience food insecurity and lack of materials
for academic achievement.
Each year our school is able to provide support to students
and families in multiple ways. Through our partnership with an area church,
a local insurance company, and Chick-Fil-A, our school is generously inundated
with donations of school supplies and backpacks. These donations are shared
with students throughout the year as frequently as needed. In addition,
each November, students within our school donate non-perishable food items
that are used to stock the food panty here at our school and at the church
we partner with. Finally, one of the greatest drives we have had the last
4 years is led by a student who collects gently used books for children
in area hospitals.
In all collections, students and staff give generously and in the spirit
of service to others.
Title of Best Practice: Secret Shoppers at Christmas
Objective(s): To provide for families within our school who are
in need during the holiday season.
As a very large Title I school, we unfortunately have
many families who are in need during the holiday season. Fortunately,
we also have a very large and very generous staff. Each year our school
librarian works with our guidance counselors to identify families to shop
for, and then organizes the coordination of items to purchase, wrap and
deliver to their homes while the students are in school. Staff members
eagerly contribute and participate in this yearly tradition. Our staff
not only recognizes how deserving our wonderful students and hard-working
families are, but they also recognize and appreciate sharing the spirit
of service and compassion with fellow colleagues.
Title of Best Practice: FAME: Formative Assessment for Maryland
Primary Principles Emphasized: 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, &
Objective(s): To employ and apply formative assessment strategies
in order to provide students with meaningful and descriptive feedback
that improves learning and achievement.
During the 2016-17 school year, approximately 45 staff
members participated in a course titled, FAME: Formative Assessment for
Maryland Educators. This elective course deepened our staff’s understanding
of the formative assessment process and the immense benefits of descriptive
feedback for our students. Participation in this coursework allowed our
teachers to work together to develop consistent approaches to providing
students with success criteria that sets the stage for academic growth
and achievement. FAME coursework also reinforced how staff members are
able to continue to cultivate a caring learning community by conferencing
with students to set goals. The course also provided strategies for offering
guidance as students develop self-motivation to meet their goals through
self and peer assessment.
Our staff was excited to recognize the use of formative assessment by
their colleagues by sharing examples in a Walk of FAME culminating activity.
We were even more excited to recognize the accomplishments of our students.
Title of Best Practice: Professional Development: Stephen Covey
& The Fish Philosophy
Objective(s): To promote and maintain a positive school culture
by adopting habits and principles that nurture a positive, engaging, and
safe learning environment.
Chet Scott has been the principal at Owings Mills Elementary
School for 24 years. During this time, he has been visionary in leading
our staff to be the best educators, and the best examples of great character,
for our students. To help us in being purposeful in all that we do, Mr.
Scott has consistently, intentionally, and effectively applied components
of Stephen Covey’s, Seven Habits of Highly Successful People as
well as Pike Place Fish Market’s, Fish! Philosophy to create a positive
and strong school culture where teachers feel empowered and safe to take
risks and have fun while learning and teaching. This approach has definitely
engaged the school staff as a learning and moral community as described
in Principle 8. Our staff collectively shares core values and approaches
to working and learning that help us provide consistency and stability
to our students of all ages and grade levels. Our building consistently
reflects a caring school community because of habits such as seeking first
to understand and the key beliefs of being there for the students, and
making their day!
Title of Best Practice: Math/Reading Nights, Choral & Band
Objective(s): To engage with parents, guardians and other community
members by highlighting key components of academic and cultural programs
offered within our school.
What better way to engage with our community and showcase
the many talents of our students and teachers, than through hands-on experiences.
Each year our Community Involvement team organizes Math and Reading Nights
that invite parents and guardians to join with school staff members in
activities such as signing up for library cards at the public library
or enjoying teachers as guest readers at Barnes and Noble, or using math
skills at the local grocery store to shop for a week worth of groceries.
Teachers also invite families to join together for choral and band concerts
that demonstrate the students’ commitment to learning new instruments
and in singing new musical pieces.
All such activities allow123 students to also demonstrate their developing
character in ways that reflect thinking, feeling, and doing. These activities
also greatly engage families and community members as partners in building
character virtues such as confidence, creativity, perseverance, and flexibility.
Objective(s): To engage the school community in fun, physical
activities that encourage kindness, helpfulness, and unity.
As each school year draws to a close, Play Day is highly
anticipated by students in each grade. Play Day is a day that truly epitomizes
unity, kindness, and helpfulness; teams wouldn’t make it through
any of the activities without it! In years past, our Play Day activities
earned points and awarded classes in each grade level 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th
place, etc. Observing that the points system generated more competition
than unity and friendship, the awarding of points and ranking have been
removed. While there are still teams coming in first and last, earning
points is no longer the focus of the day. Students are first encouraged
to have fun while completing the various play day stations with orderliness,
fairness, enthusiasm, determination, and grit. Play Days bring students,
parents, and staff together to celebrate team work and friendships that
have developed and grown all year long.
Title of Best Practice: Wide Reading Celebrations & Goal
Objective(s): To promote purposefulness, self-discipline, and
excellence by setting and monitoring personal and appropriate academic
and personal goals.
It goes without saying how important it is for students
to read every day. In an effort to encourage independent reading, our
school sets monthly goals for an amount of reading to be done for the
students to strive for. Students have the option of choosing from various
forms of reading materials, chapter books, magazines, picture books, graphic
novels, etc., that are on their reading level. Students are given choice
to promote self-motivation, and the goals encourage self-discipline and
commitment. At the end of the school year, a celebration is held to recognize
students who met our year end goal and to award trophies to the Top 10
readers in each grade level. Parents are invited to attend the celebration
The Maryland Center for Character
Educationat Stevenson University
School of Education, 1525 Greenspring Valley Road, Stevenson, MD 21153