From the California Education Code

From Elementary Makes the Grade!
(California Department of Education, 2000)

Signature Practices from the:


2012 Virtues and Character Award Winning Schools

2010 Virtues and Character Award Winning Schools

2008 Virtues and Character Award Winning Schools

2006 Virtues and Character Award Winning Schools

2004 Virtues and Character Award Winning Schools

2002 Virtues and Character Award Winning Schools

2000 Virtues and Character Award Winning Schools

 

Character Education Ideas for Elementary Schools

From the California Education Code

Section 233.5[a]:

Each teacher shall endeavor to impress upon the minds of the pupils the principles of morality, truth, justice, patriotism, and a true comprehension of the rights, duties, dignity of American citizenship, and the meaning of equality and human dignity, including the promotion of harmonious relations, kindness toward domestic pets and the humane treatment of living creatures, to teach them to avoid idleness, profanity, and falsehood, and to instruct them in manners and morals and the principles of a free government.

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From Elementary Makes the Grade! (California Department of Education, 2000)

Recommendation 10: Develop and Reinforce Positive Character Traits

'Intelligence plus character--that is the goal of true education.' (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

Rationale

Effective schools seek to develop and reinforce character traits, such as caring, citizenship, respect, responsibility, and trustworthiness, through a systematic approach that includes adult modeling,curriculum integration, a positive school climate, and access to comprehensive guidance and counseling services. typical guidance lessons focus on self-awareness at the kindergarten level, social skills in grade one, personal behavior and friendship skills in grade two, anger management skills in grade three, conflict resolution in grade four, responsibility and goal setting in grade five, and skills for coping with stress in grade six (Elementary School Counseling and Guidance, 1999).

The State Board of Education has developed the Handbook on the Rights and Responsibilities of School Personnel (California Department of Education 1994), which contains information concerning what can and should be taught in public schools related to morals, civic values, ethics, manners, religion, democratic principles, understanding of human differences, responsible attitudes and behaviors, and respect for the dignity of all people. The California Department of Education has joined the national research and development effort on this issue through a pilot project, California Partnerships in Character Education, which investigates ways to implement character education.

Classroom curriculum is a natural means by which positive character traits can be reinforced. By integrating character education throughout subject areas, students can see its application to life situations. Students can study the personal character of heroes, heroines, and villains of times past and present, in social science and history. Moral dilemmas and character attributes can be discussed in literature, and the ethical consequences of falsifying results can be addressed in studying mathematics, physical education, and science.

The climate of a school can also reinforce positive character traits through the attitude of its staff and students, by policies and procedures, and through its physical appearance. Identifying adults within the school community who model positive character traits and ethical behavior can also serve as an effective way to support character development (Thomas and Roberts 1994).

Establishing positive character traits in elementary school students can be greatly enhanced through psychological and counseling services provided by specially credentialed educational specialists. Children establish lifelong behavioral patterns from ages six through ten--the first four years of school (California Department of Education 1992). To assist classroom teachers and parents in dealing with potential problems, counselors can provide early detection of mental and emotional problems among students in elementary schools. Counseling programs can also help prevent the types of problems that surface at the secondary level, or later in adulthood, by providing opportunities for students to develop feelings of self-worth and positive attitudes toward learning, work, and society (California Department of Education 1981). Finally, guidance and counseling services should be an integral component of each school's comprehensive school health system and should provide elementary-grade students with support and assistance in making healthy decisions, managing emotions, coping with crises, setting short-and long-term goals (California Department of Education 1994).

California still ranks last in the nation in the number of students per counselor (Urbaniak 1999). A first step toward providing quality programs and services to students is the development of a comprehensive guidance and counseling plan as an integral part of a total educational plan (California State Board of Education 1995).

An Example of Best Practice

Character education is a high priority at Sandstone Elementary School and has been integrated into all curricular areas; character is a part of the school climate, and all adults model appropriate behavior. Direct teaching of positive character traits and actions is provided through the collaborative efforts of the classroom teacher and the district counseling staff. Counselors meet the needs of at-risk students by working closely with parents or through small-group or individual counseling.

Parents and community members are united in promoting character education and rewarding positive behavior. Weekly bulletins describe notable deeds performed by staff, students, or classes, and praise is given to persons who have been diligent and have persevered in projects. Sandstone has replaced traditional holiday parties with community-or school-based community service-learning projects or philanthropies. Students tutor younger students and assist senior citizens in a breakfast program. Sandstone students have learned conflict resolution techniques, assisting peers in learning the techniques of problem solving without using violence or offensive language. Adults at Sandstone model kindness, cooperation, respect, and hard work. Compliments are given for acts of kindness, perseverance, hard work, honesty, and fairness. All staff, students, and community members understand the expectations for positive behavior, and consistent and fair consequences result when inappropriate choices are made. The school not only teaches and reinforces positive character traits but also embodies those traits as an institution.

Steps along the Way

Each of the steps listed below identifies actions that schools can take to develop and reinforce positive character traits:

  • Develop a comprehensive guidance and counseling plan to provide direct student intervention and to assist teachers in designing preventive curricula.
  • Integrate character education concepts and traits into daily instruction./
  • Provide opportunities for students to apply character education concepts in school and in community service-learning projects.

Shared Responsibilities

The following stakeholders share these responsibilities toward ensuring the implementation of Recommendation 10:

  • Policymakers make counseling a high priority and commit funds to that end.
  • Community partnerships enable students to apply character education elements in service-learning or career-education activities.
  • The media highlight the positive work and achievements of students and other community members.
  • Districts budget for new character education resources/materials that can be used to positively influence students as a part of daily instruction.

Note: Elementary Makes the Grade! was developed by the Elementary Networks Office of the Education Support and Networks Division, California Department of Education. Copies of the entire publication are available for $10.25 each, plus shipping and handling charges. Orders may be sent to the California Department of Education, CDE Press, Sales Office, P.O. Box 271, Sacramento, CA 95812-0271.

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Promising Practices from the 2012 Virtues and Character Award Winning Schools

(Excerpts from the applications)

Cedarwood Elementary School
Clovis Unified School District
559-327-6000
Principal: Ms. Teresa Barber

The signature program at Cedarwood is our Hawk Attitude program. Our Hawk Attitude is a list of descriptors that each student at Cedarwood should display as part of their personal character each and every day. Hawk Attitude covers a variety of areas of personal responsibility. The most recent addition to our Hawk Attitude has to do with the subject of computer communication and personal responsibility. Hawks are reminded that their cyber history will follow them and that they need to be very careful when communicating with anyone on the web as well as very guarded about anything that they post about themselves.

The Hawks of Cedarwood are proud that their Hawk Attitude helps to guide the behavior of all Hawks and makes it easier for all new students at Cedarwood to feel that they are part of a wonderful community. The Cedarwood Hawks feel that their Hawk Attitude helps to set them apart with the guiding principles of proper behavior and personal character at all times.

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Centerville Elementary School
Sanger Unified School District
559-524-6000
Principal: Ms. Lisa Houston

During the past two years, the Centerville staff has been trained in and implemented the Quit It Program (grades K-2) and the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (grades 3-6th). The programs focus on providing all students with tools to prevent bullying, whether they are directly or indirectly involved. The curriculum includes role-playing activities and classroom meetings, which develop skills needed in recognizing bullying and the roles and responsibilities all students have in dealing with various situations. The anti-bullying curriculum is the foundation to the Centerville Behavioral Intervention program and has proven to be very effective in decreasing classroom and playground discipline.

Our peer mediators go through rigorous training in conflict resolution to assist their peers with problems they may be having. Students who are experiencing difficulties with another student or just want to talk to a peer about a situation are encouraged to meet with a mediator. Students have the opportunity to explain what they could have done to make a positive difference and are given the opportunity to correct their negative choice. If a student continues to make poor choices, then a peer counseling referral can be made.

Though the impact of Community of Caring can be hard to quantify, we have gathered data to analyze the effectiveness of our practice. We have examined absence rates, number of tardies, and the number and causes of suspension and referrals. Our records indicate that absence rates and the number of suspensions have dropped. Our analysis of incidents shows that there were no severe incidents in the last nine years.

There is qualitative change on campus that is moving us closer to our vision. Centerville staff has observed that students are more mannerly, willing to help staff and their peers and more readily take responsibility for their actions. It is visually evident that students are respecting our campus by helping keep it clean and free from graffiti. Visiting adults, including parents and business community members, comment on the positive feel and energy on our campus. With the reduction of classroom disruptions, teachers state they are better able to provide high quality instruction and focus on student learning and achievement.

When a joint effort is made between community and school, a strong feeling of ownership emerges. Centerville is a family-friendly school that strongly believes that student performance is directly associated with family involvement. An early introduction to strong ethical and moral behavior will benefit students at school and serve their future with a value-driven lifestyle.

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Clovis Elementary School
Clovis Unified School District
559-327-6100
Principal: Ms. Isabel Herrera-Facio

The staff, students and parents at Clovis Elementary work as an integral team to support the character development of each and every student. Several years ago the staff developed Core Values for our school. The Core Values of Kids First, High Standards, Mind, Body, and Spirit, Teamwork, Character Development and Competition give Clovis Elementary the framework and goals in which we work. The focus on developing strong character traits within our students also places emphasis on the importance of a climate of high expectations. At monthly meetings the staff discusses the environment of the school and if we need to make any adjustments in the programs or curriculum that we are currently utilizing in order to maintain a positive learning environment.

The staff understands that effective schools seek to develop and reinforce character traits such as caring, citizenship, respect, responsibility, and trustworthiness, through a systemic approach that includes adult modeling, curriculum integration, and a positive school climate. When students are in a positive learning environment they are more apt to want to attend school and not miss out on what is happening. We know it is our responsibility to promote and encourage ethical values as the basis of good character and development of our children in becoming productive and engaged citizens.

Every Wednesday students, staff, and parents proudly wear their Jaguar Pledge t-shirts to further emphasize the importance of developing and maintaining strong character traits. The Jaguar Pledge reads as follows, “I pledge to be a person of good character, I will always be fair, I will be respectful and responsible, showing that I care. I will be a good citizen, doing what I must. I will be honest and reliable and worthy of your trust.” Students wearing shirts earn a special treat at their recess time. Students not wearing shirts can recite the pledge by memory and earn themselves a treat. This allows all students the ability to earn a special treat. Our goal is to develop a community with high caliber character and that begins on the Clovis Elementary campus and follows our students throughout their lives. The Jaguar Pledge, which reinforces character expectations, can be seen on bulletin boards in every classroom on the Jaguar campus. It serves as a guideline for how everyone should behave on a daily basis.

To further promote Character expectations, thirty of our fourth, fifth and sixth grade students had the opportunity to be trained in a program sponsored by California State University, Fresno called Mediator Mentors. The Mediator Mentors Program has been implemented to promote peaceful environments among students. The students meet weekly for one hour of education in developing better perceptions of the feelings of others, show empathy, and build higher selfesteem. As pairs, the mediators work with their peers to find solutions to their conflicts. This has been greatly embraced by staff and students. Students wishing to meet with a Mediator Mentor team sign up for a time. A fifth grade teacher is the facilitator. The meetings are generally held during recess and lunchtime. The mentors feel so strongly about the positive effects of their meetings that they are willing to give up their recess time. Several students have taken advantage of the mediator meetings and feel it is an asset to our Character Counts Program.

One of the Character traits that the Leadership students focused on this year was that of caring. On Pearl Harbor Day the Student Council put on a school wide USO show. The show had performers from Clovis High School perform dances and the band played music while our student leaders did jokes in between performances. It was similar to the USO shows Bob Hope did years ago. While the USO show was running a teacher was videotaping it. The show was made into a DVD and given to the Central California Regional Family Assistance Coordinator who produced it in mass and sent it to our troops overseas. In addition The Jaguar student body participated in the Jump Rope for Heart event sponsored by the American Heart Association. In these very difficult times when families and staff are trying to make ends meet, we were proud to present the American Heart Association with a check of $1,013.51 from the Clovis Elementary teachers, staff, administration, students and community. In addition our Leadership students sponsored the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society – Pennies for Patients and raised over $1,500.

It is a school-wide teamwork approach that has been most effective in promoting success with the efforts of the classroom teachers. It is the school’s responsibility to be positive role models and encouraging motivators for success that is essential to student development of character and values. Clovis Elementary is taking an active role in developing students who are well rounded and equipped for life long participation as productive citizens in our community.

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Del Rey Elementary School
Sanger Unified School District
559-524-6000
Principal: Ms. Susan Fitzgerald

Del Rey Elementary School has built a strong foundation on the core ethical values that make our school a Community of Caring School, the teaching and focus on the traits of respect, responsibility, trust, caring, and family continue to grow and evolve in building a more comprehensive character education program, which has become the culture of our school and is how we do business every day.

We are excited about the various criterion areas that have become internalized by students and staff and woven into our classrooms, our instruction, our school and our community. Through collaborative conversations and strategic interventions, we have incorporated changes to make our Community of Caring program more effective.

Reflection by staff have helped us develop new character education goals based on the fact that we needed to go deeper to help students understand how what they are learning through social studies and character education will help them become productive participants in our society as a whole. In fifth grade, for example, as students learn about the founding of our country, they are introduced to the democratic principles of citizenship, morals, and our responsibility to participate in our democratic process. We want our students to grow into citizens with both academic skills to succeed as well as civic virtue and good character.

Del Rey Elementary school is not only teaching and practicing character education within our school and community but we are also reaching out to schools and organizations beyond our district. We are raising student awareness and empowering them to make a difference not only at school, but also nation wide and globally in a variety of venues.

Community involvement and communication are important to the culture we continue to build. Not only do we have a monthly calendar with character traits, but the trait is also included in our weekly “Knightline” newsletter. This gives parents and students an opportunity to discuss the meaning and examples of the trait at home. In addition, grade level teams develop and send classroom newsletters, which describe classroom activities, as well as a focus on the monthly trait. It also includes photos and our families have loved it.

Classroom meetings based on Olweus and Second Step are always conducted Monday morning. We realize that many events, both positive and negative happen on the weekend, and we want to be sure that students start their week by getting the support they need. This has definitely had a positive impact in many ways, including self-esteem, avoiding hard feelings from weekend quarrels, and bullying. We have worked to weave CoC traits and bullying prevention into a cohesive program for our classroom meetings.

Our Behavior Support Team (BST) has evolved into Positive Behavior Intervention Support (PBIS) Team. The team consists of the principal, teacher, counselor, school psychologist, curriculum support provider, and parent. This team makes decisions based on data and collaboration.

Last year we read and discussed research on positive vs. negative reinforcement, collaborated with and trained the staff, and then implemented The Clothespin System of positive reinforcement, which includes rewards for students and teachers. In addition to our “Caught with Character” ticket awards we want to provide additional recognition for students by having a comprehensive intervention strategy “SHINE”. The SHINE rubric will be explicitly taught in the classroom meetings. Not only do students receive CoC tickets for raffles and prizes, they can receive SHINE tickets for exemplary recognition of character traits being used school wide. “Bus Bucks” from our bus drivers is also a way to encourage good choices and exhibition of character traits on the bus. Students are excited to come put their “Bus Bucks” in the office jar for weekly prizes.

Principal walk-throughs have evolved to include not only teacher feedback notes of positive reinforcement and opportunities, but also positive reinforcement for students. Students receive special notes and positive feedback. This has been a huge success and the children love getting notes and small gifts from their principal.

Our counselor conducts Peace Club, a club for girls in 4th-6th grade, who may not have the social interaction skills that they need to make friends. She meets with these girls to discuss tolerance, self-esteem, character traits, and positive choices.

Trust and collaboration have grown immensely over the years between parents, community and school. The implementation of The Parent Institute of Quality Education (PIQE), as well as The Latino Family Literacy Program has supported parent needs and has increased parent school involvement.

Those community entities that once supported us with visits or matching funds now support us with grants to improve our school in health, in fighting obesity, support in academic achievement through reading and technology, and the building and development of our character education program. The extension and depth to which we have grown as a school and community has resulted in Del Rey School being highly focused on building character and civic virtue.

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John C. Fremont Elementary School
Fowler Unified School District
559-999-0695
Principal: Mr. Glen Billington

The Fremont School community believes that instilling good character is central to the mission of our school. In order to accomplish this, our district established a Character Education Committee made up of educators, students, and parents to determine core values to be taught and develop an approach to character education. The committee developed Fowler’s Big Ten Pillars of Character and decided that each would be addressed through classroom instruction imbedded in the regular curriculum. In addition to the teaching of character traits, our school community has embraced the concept of service learning. It is our goal that every student has the opportunity to directly participate in at least one service learning project each year. During the school year, teachers and students develop display boards that tell the story of the projects they do and depict the process and success of their service learning. These boards are displayed at each district school’s Open House in the spring as a “mobile museum” that moves from school to school. This provides the community of Fowler an opportunity to appreciate the wide diversity of projects completed by all students, from kindergarten through high school. It is our goal to keep character education at the heart of our identity as a school.

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Harvest Elementary School
Central Unified School District
559-271-0420
Principal: Ms. Robyn Miller

When parents and community think of Harvest, they should think of a character-based school, strong in teaching kids the value of character. Our Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program is really the foundation for all of this. Through teaching students to abide by our school expectations of being safe, respectful, and responsible, reciting our Harvest Pledge each morning during announcements together as a classroom, teaching students that they are going to make mistakes but to learn from them, and to fail forward. As part of our PBIS program, students are reminded multiple times throughout the day of behavior expectations and rewarded in various ways for those behaviors. When students are off track, they are redirected and re-taught by teachers, administration, and others support staff and reminded of why it is important to use strong character in their daily interactions with others. By providing students with the feedback, reinforcement, and support needed, students of Harvest Elementary School will be prepared for success in their local communities, post secondary education, and work force.

At Harvest we provide students with many opportunities to get involved in community based projects and community and school site moral action. Students volunteer in a school site recycling program, Kid’s Day, Pennies for Patients, and Holiday Joy (a local district food drive), as well as other moral action activities. Our teachers and staff encourage students to get involved in these types of activities so that they learn to give back. There is always someone our kids can help, regardless of their own situation. Giving students opportunities to act morally and to practice good deeds allows them to truly see how their collective efforts can make a difference not only in our school, but our local community, our state, our country, and the world.

At our school, we recognize that school is not only about math, science, English, and social studies. It is about being an extra hand in developing well rounded, contributing members of our local community. Through leading by example, Harvest staff makes it a priority to demonstrate, encourage, teach, and reinforce strong character with our students. In a society where many families are victims of lost jobs, foreclosed homes, and other various stress factors, it is our job to step in to provide our kids with the support they need to be successful not only in school, but in the real world as well. Through leading by example, Harvest staff makes it a priority to demonstrate, encourage, teach, and reinforce strong character with our students. They are our future!

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Houghton-Kearney School
Central Unified School District
559-276-5285
Principal: Dave Holtermann

Character is one of the core values for Houghton-Kearney and Central Unified, and one of the main reasons we have further implemented the teaching and reinforcement of character. We believe at Houghton-Kearney we are growing the leaders of tomorrow and hence character is a foundational element of that belief. Houghton-Kearney has set goals to influence the hearts and minds of our students to live up to this belief.

The first goal was to implement a Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) system. Last year we put a team of teachers, students and community members together to create a system of traits around our motto of “Tiger PRIDE.” The term “PRIDE” stands for “Positivity, Responsibility, Integrity, Discipline and Excellence.” A student’s action(s) can attach to a trait in the term “PRIDE.” How those traits are demonstrated in all settings of the school is also taught to the students at Houghton-Kearney. Students are given positive reinforcement everywhere for demonstrating the “PRIDE” with “Tiger Bucks.” Those “Tiger Bucks” can be used for a weekly raffle and purchases from our “Tiger Store.” Our goal is to have character education embedded in every action we take. A student or staff member will always know the good character behind their actions. We also have a “Tiger PRIDE” award for which staff and students can nominate Houghton-Kearney staff members. The students or other staff completes a form that is shard during announcements as an opportunity to say thank you. One of those forms is randomly selected each week to allow the staff member park in the “Tiger PRIDE” parking spot for the next week.

Another goal we have is to continually affirm the six pillars of the “Character Counts” program we have utilized for years; which are trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship. Each teacher and/or class selects a student that exemplifies that month’s character trait. The “Tiger of the Month” award consists of a letter home, a special lunch, their name posted in our “Paw Prints” newsletter, and the student’s name read on the morning announcements. We also have a barbeque at the end of the year to which we invite all of the Tigers of the Month and student council members to complete our celebration of character for the year.

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Jackson Elementary School
Sanger Unified School District
559-524-6180
Principal: Ms. Adela Jones

Adults and students alike continue to model our core values: Respect, Responsibility, Family, Trust, and Caring and to follow our motto which is “Do the Right Thing”. We believe that recognizing positive behavior promotes positive behavior. To continue moving forward, we have added programs and activities to continue our journey of an exemplary character education program.

One of the biggest changes has been the implementation of a school-wide system to enhance our PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports). We now have Jackson PRIDE! PRIDE stands for Personal Responsibility In school Doing the right thing Everyday. Schoolwide expectations were developed and are posted throughout the school to foster a safe environment. Every classroom has a character chart where students are recognized for having PRIDE and making good choices. Students can “clip up” for great behavior, and they are publicly recognized by either the teacher or principal. The biggest strength this system has brought us is we now have a common language throughout our school in our expectations.

To continue to foster our comprehensive approach and belief that a healthy child=healthy mind, we promote healthy eating and an active lifestyle which students understand transfers to a happy, healthy mind. Jackson has become a nationally recognized Healthy School, one of only 2 in the Central Valley and of 13 in California, from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. Students now have healthy parties where fruits, veggie trays, and cheese and crackers are the treats. Our fifth grade students forgo the traditional Valentine’s Day Party and instead bring items to make sack lunches which are donated to a church to hand out to the homeless in our community. Our school counselor has also organized two clubs, Girl Power Club and Boy Power Club, to help promote social competencies and positive behaviors as part of our Tier two behavior pyramid.

Jackson students have continued to contribute to its community in other meaningful ways through social service activities. In addition to feeding the homeless, students participate in projects that include selling newspapers for Kid’s Day, an event that benefits Children’s Hospital and Pennies for Patients, a cancer fundraising. Our Community of Caring Club meets every Friday and one of their ongoing activities is to walk to the rest home in town to read, sing, and visit with the elderly. Adding to our community service events, teachers and parents model caring and respect for others by participating in Sanger’s Relay for Life, a 24-hour walk to raise money for cancer research. When a parent of two of our former students developed brain cancer this past month, our entire staff rallied and prepared meals for the family for a week. During the holiday season, staff members and parents help donate items for our needy students, such as toys, coats, and food. The Jackson community continues to embrace one of our sayings, “Every Jaguar, Every day, whatever it takes!”

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John Wash Elementary School
Sanger Unified School District
559-524-6320
Principal: Ms. Donna Vincenti

John Wash is a community of caring. We live the values of respect, responsibility, caring, trust, and family on a daily basis. Our student of the month assemblies are now titled Community of Caring assemblies. Our character trait of the month is seen on our school marquee, on our monthly newsletters, and talked about in our weekly parent phone calls and during our morning opening on our blacktop. We infuse these values during lessons and those teachable moments.

This year we have begun to give back to the community. Each grade level agreed upon a Service Learning Project that they wanted to do. They were all very successful and students were taking it upon themselves to visit businesses and request if they could place bins to collect coats or canned food outside their door. Reflection is a very important piece of giving. Students wrote about how it felt to give to others and learned that giving is better than receiving.

Our Multicultural Night has brought our diverse families together by having music, food, and inspirational stories told at the night of the event. This has turned out to be the highlight of our school year. John Wash Elementary is truly a Community of Caring.

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Liddell Elementary School
Central Unified School District
559-276-3176
Principal: Melody Burriss

In Central Unified School District, all schools are in the process of implementing Positive Behavior Intervention Support (PBIS). This is not a program but a culture shift. The main actions taken when implementing PBIS that are different from the school discipline system include:

  • Identifying school-wide expected behaviors
  • Creating a matrix of expected behaviors (what they do and don’t look like in different venues)
  • Teaching the expected behaviors through the matrix by identifying examples and nonexamples
  • Rewarding the expected behaviors in a school-wide system
  • Providing support for individual students that positively recognizes expected behaviors

At Liddell Elementary School we identified the Lion Laws as our expectations. We are respectful, responsible and ready to learn. None of this makes us unique. All of the schools in Central Unified have implemented actions similar to these.

Liddell Elementary students are recognized for exhibiting character in a variety of ways. We developed a system of privileges student earn through their behavior. These privileges are awarded to grade levels and afford the students the rights to make decisions for their selves such as when to dismiss from the cafeteria, where to sit, and the freedom of purposeful movement without permission. We have had several incidents this year where students have intervened and resolved conflicts by using the Lion Laws and communicating to their classmates the expected behavior. “We want to keep our privileges” is the most powerful phrase in these situations. Students are surveyed throughout the year to identify behaviors, such as bullying, that need to be addressed. The survey results are compared to determine needs and successes. Students are awarded “Lion Law” tickets for good behavior drawings and classes complete a “Celebrating our Greatness” poster for class recognitions.

Community Service projects are supported by the entire school. 2nd grade coordinates a project monthly, promoting it school wide. This year alone, two students have coordinated projects collecting used shoes for a needy community and teddy bears for hospitalized children. Fourth grade collects all of the recycling weekly and distributes it to the appropriate receptacles. Student Council assists with school-wide projects such as Holiday Joy, Toys for Tots and Kids Day. Our families, through our children, are very giving to our community.

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Lincoln Elementary School
Kingsburg Elementary Charter School District
559-897-5141
Principal: Ms. Jennifer DuPras

Our signature program that is highly prized is our Student of the Month program.

Each month, all 21 homeroom teachers thoughtfully select a Student of the Month. These students exemplify the overall qualities of good character. The parents of the selected students each receive a letter hand signed by the principal. The student is surprised at school when the teacher announces the Student of the Month and what specific actions or attributes he/she displayed to achieve the honor. The students each receive a seasonal folder with a photograph certificate, as well as a gift certificate from McDonald’s. Single and group photos are taken. The photos are sent home as well as placed on the school website and the local newspaper each month. In addition, the principal takes all 21 students to lunch at the local McDonald’s. Customers at McDonald’s are always curious about the large group, and it gives the principal an opportunity to brag to community members about the wonderful citizens at Lincoln. McDonald’s and Island Photography have supported the Lincoln Student of the Month program for eight years.

Students and parents are delighted with the recognition received from the classroom, principal, and the community as a whole due to acknowledgement in the local newspaper and our district website. Students are well aware of the criteria needed to become Student of the Month, and many students make it their personal goal to be a Student of the Month every year. Siblings have friendly rivalries to become Students of the Month as early in the school year as possible.

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Lincoln Elementary School
Tulare City School District
559-685-7350
Principal: Mr. Don Dargo

Lincoln Elementary School has a long rich history and an established reputation throughout the greater Tulare community as a school that truly believes in educating the whole child, which includes a strong emphasis on character education. During the 2009-2010 school year, the Lincoln staff embarked on a project to further define character education with the ultimate goal of creating a meaningful and uniform framework of character standards for its students. Staff began its journey with a book study of The Essential 55, by Ron Clark. From this study, it was decided that Lincoln Elementary could benefit by establishing 10 essential rules of conduct and a pledge that would enhance and support the six pillars of Character Counts! Tailored to meet the values and expectations of the Lincoln community, the following would serve as the foundation of Lincoln’s character education program:

The Essential 10

  1. Answer all adults respectfully by saying, “Yes, Ma’am” or “No, Sir,” or “Yes, Mrs. Nunes,” or “Yes, Mr. Dargo.”
  2. Respect other students’ comments, opinions, and ideas.
  3. Be respectful at all times. Do not show disrespect with gestures.
  4. Always say, “Thank You” when you are given something.
  5. Transition from one subject and/or classroom to the other swiftly, quietly, and orderly.
  6. Keep the restrooms clean. Always flush the toilet and wash your hands after using the restroom.
  7. Be responsible for your own trash in the classroom, in the cafeteria, and on the playground.
  8. If someone bumps into you, even if it was not your fault, say, “Excuse me.”
  9. If any child is bothering you, let a teacher know.
  10. Always be honest . . . tell the truth.

The Lincoln Pledge

  • I will always be a responsible citizen.
  • I will always respect my parents and teachers.
  • I will graduate from high school and work hard to attend college.
  • I will always do my best . . . and a little bit more.
  • I will never smoke or take illegal drugs.
  • I will never join a gang.
  • I will be responsible for all my actions.
  • I will get a job and work to make a living.
  • I will never blame anyone for what I have done.
  • I will help make the world a better place.

If we continue to remember this pledge, we will all help to make our part of the world a better place to live.

“The Essential 10” and “Lincoln Pledge” have become an integral part of Lincoln Elementary School. Throughout the campus and in every classroom, large colorful posters are on display of these two important documents. Daily morning announcements include student government representatives leading the entire student body in recitation of passages found in the “Lincoln Pledge” and “The Essential 10.” During Character Counts! assemblies, students are also provided opportunity to recite the Pledge, and make the connection to the 6 Pillars of Character. In bold and almost the theme of the school is the statement, “I will always do my best . . . and a little bit more.” The importance of this statement is most evident during CST testing, and in the comment section of report cards. Beyond these external representations of “The Essential 10” and “Lincoln Pledge,” the students and staff at Lincoln school have truly “taken to heart” the goals they have established, and strive towards achieving them.

Staff and students have made a commitment to the clear expectations of character outlined in the “Lincoln Pledge,” and “The Essential 10.” Staff members understand that good character is primarily a parent responsibility, but the task must also be shared with schools. On a daily basis, Lincoln staff takes role modeling seriously during interactions with students as well as adults. For example, students are taught to respect each other and adults. During class discussion, or informal conversations on the playground students are reminded by adults on campus of statements found in the “Essential 10,” such as “Respect other students’ comments, opinions, and ideas.” Rarely, do you see students on the Lincoln campus criticizing or poking fun at other students for having a differing idea or opinion. Instead, students have been taught to disagree politely or “to concur.”

Since the inception of the “Lincoln Pledge” and “The Essential 10” incidents of discipline are few, and incidents of suspension for Lincoln are almost nonexistent. Most notably, last year Lincoln Elementary was selected to house the District’s Support School, which includes students with severe emotional behaviors. It was the goal of the District and Lincoln to provide these students with the opportunity to learn how to interact appropriately with other students as well as adults. The decision was made to allow Support School students a chance to play at recess with Lincoln students. What occurred was remarkable and testimony to the success of the “Lincoln Pledge” and “The Essential 10.” Lincoln students soon befriended the Support School students, and by example, patience, and understanding helped them drastically improve their behavior. The improvement was so great, that several of the Support School students now have received special recognition at Lincoln’s Character Counts! assemblies, and in the local newspaper!

Though, the “Lincoln Pledge” and “The Essential 10” have been foundational for Lincoln’s successful character education program, other important components are worth mentioning. Lincoln has set in place a prevention education curriculum: Second Step: Violence Prevention (Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd), and Too Good for Drugs (4th, 5th, 6th). Also, a major focus for the current year is Anti-Bullying curriculum, which was introduced in August by a school-wide multimedia assembly. Students also have opportunity to be given special recognition on “The Wall of Excellence,” which is on display in the cafeteria, depicting photos and a small write up for those that have received special recognition for their achievements with Character Counts!, attendance, District benchmarks, and success on State testing.

Quite clearly, Lincoln Elementary School is well on its way in developing students of character, and future citizens of character. As stated in the concluding statement of the “Lincoln Pledge,” and as most Lincoln students can tell you, “If we continue to remember this pledge, we will all help to make our part of the world a better place to live.”

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Madison Elementary School
Central Unified School District
559-276-5280
Principal: Mr. Dave Tenny

Good character is fostered in the classrooms and on the campus at Madison Elementary School. Every month each class chooses a Warrior of the Month based off of the character pillar that is featured that month. The Warrior of the Month is announced over the intercom, has their name published in the Warrior Insider, is given a nice certificate with their picture, has their picture posted in the cafeteria, and is given a pizza lunch on the last Friday of the month. Classroom activities such as rewarding good character by having lunch with the teacher on Fridays, writing activities such as “I like Johnny”, group points and rewards, character pillar descriptions over morning announcements, and classroom discussions about the monthly character pillar. These examples are all used to foster character development. Additionally every classroom does a grade level essay based off of the featured monthly character pillar and displayed on each classrooms character counts bulletin board. Character development is further encouraged by our Block M, Exceptional Warrior Award program where students earn points for good grades, positive behavior, community involvement, and extracurricular activities.

Another opportunity that students have at Madison is to participate in the Valley Children’s Hospital fundraiser “Kids Day”. The Fresno Bee provides a special edition newspaper for the students to sell to the public on this special day. The earnings from the newspaper sales contribute to the Children’s Hospital and our students glean a sense of empathy for those children who are ill and in need. Our Madison campus also participates in a recycling program where blue bins are placed throughout the campus to encourage students to take care of our environment at school by recycling.

Other community service opportunities include our Healthy Parent Cooking Classes that are open to all parents. Our weekly Positive Parenting classes are held in English and Spanish and are open to all families who wish to attend. We also partner with the Community Food Bank. The Madison Leadership Students box and distribute the food to our Madison community after school. These programs help to foster good health for our students, families, and community. This is a positive way to provide information on good nutrition and cooking to keep our students and their families healthy. In turn, they will interact better socially, continue to improve academically, and make better character choices.

Acknowledging student achievement is another way to foster moral actions in our young Warriors. Awards are given throughout the school year including Good Citizenship, Warrior of the Month, and Warrior of the Year to deserving students who exemplify the pillars of character for each month. In sports, a “Victory Medal” is awarded by the opposing team to the athlete exhibiting good sportsmanship. These awards build good character in our students and encourage all students to strive for superior character.

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Monte Vista Elementary School
Porterville Unified School District
559-782-7350
Principal: Mr. Apolinar Marroquin

Our legacy of character development continues to provide a sense of family as the Home of the Grizzlies. Our school marquee proudly displays our monthly pillar of focus as provided by the CHARACTER COUNTS! program. Since 2006, Monte Vista has actively promoted the Six Pillars of Character upon which our character education goals are based. The school marquee, numerous banners and the outside columns of our school buildings are visual artifacts of our six-year history. In addition to the physical outward signs, which demonstrate our commitment to character education, our group of dedicated staff, students, parent and grandparent volunteers model the core ethical values, which support the mission statement of Monte Vista School. Our mantra states “We come to school to learn: Be Safe, Be Respectful, Be Responsible.” You can ask any student on campus why they come to school and they will say, “To learn!”

At Monte Vista, we feel that promoting and teaching the Six Pillars of Character sets the mood and expectations for student behavior for the entire school year, so we have chosen to continue the effort of beginning our school year with a “CHARACTER COUNTS! Kick Off Week.” Parents join in to help us prepare and organize the kick off assembly and orchestrate daily lunchtime activities. At the assembly, students learn what good behavior looks like at Monte Vista School, and are recognized for being nominated as a CHARACTER COUNTS! Kid of Character by their teachers. Students selected for the pillar of Trustworthiness are asked to stand and be recognized while the entire school cheers them on. We recognize each pillar’s nominees in this way. This weeklong event provides daily reminders that good character is valued at our school. Individual classrooms participate in a door-decorating contest judged by a team of teachers, parents and community members.

Our CC! Kick-Off Week sets a tone for the year when promoting good character. Following the kick-off week, every Tuesday is dedicated to Character Counts. Students are encouraged to wear their CC! t-shirts, “Caught Being Good” and “Famous Grizzly Quotes” are read on the morning announcements. Quotes written by Monte Vista students are read each morning and focus on the monthly pillar. An additional weekly inspirational quote is presented to the students and a final reminder tells the students, “Remember, you come to school to learn! Have a great Grizzly day!”

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James K. Polk Elementary School
Central Unified School District
559-274-9780
Principal: Mr. Jack Kelejian

At Polk we focus on both academics and behavior with the response to intervention model for both. In other words, we believe in teaching behaviors and character similar to how we teach academics in all settings. The main update to our program has been discussing our progress of our implementation as a staff with both our character education and our positive behavior interventions and supports implementation (Strive for Five) together with our behavior team, principal’s advisory committee, PTA, student council, and staff meetings on a monthly basis. This has helped us hold ourselves accountable for our goals and has ensured that all staff including custodian, yard duty, cafeteria, librarian, etc are all part of the implementation. We have committed to monitoring our implementation of character education and behavior in every staff meeting. In addition we have added some additional elements to our program that have demonstrated great effects:

  • Teaching behavior and character similar to how we teach academics (classroom behavior lessons and Second Step lessons utilized for this purpose)
  • Established Positive Behavior and Character Team with a diverse representation of the staff
  • Implementation of Strive for Five Expectations School Wide
  • District and school Vision and Mission statement encompasses Character
  • Passport Behavior Teaching Day- Students went from station to station to learn
  • Reward System school wide, classroom, and individual (Character Award winners monthly and positive referrals to parents)
  • Classroom Compliment Chart- Classrooms get to fill in their chart for demonstrating good behavior and character. The class that fills the chart gets an incentive along with the teacher
  • Recognizing teachers and school staff demonstrating good character and strive for five
  • Incorporating Behavior and Character in the after school program
  • Utilizing moral action activities when working with students (Example: Students who use to be bullies create behavior lessons to younger students on how to teach empathy and respect)

Polk staff was involved every step of the way in preparing for the Bonner Award application. As a staff, we believe in teaching and modeling behavior and character with, and helping students acquire, those virtues or moral habits that will help them individually live good lives and at the same time become productive, contributing members of their communities.

At Polk we focus on both academics and behavior with the response to intervention model for both. In other words, we believe in teaching behaviors and character similar to how we teach academics in all settings. The main update to our program has been discussing our progress of our implementation as a staff with both our character education and our positive behavior interventions and supports implementation (Strive for Five) together with our behavior team, principal’s advisory committee, PTA, student council, and staff meetings on a monthly basis. This has helped us hold ourselves accountable for our goals and has ensured that all staff including custodian, yard duty, cafeteria, librarian, etc are all part of the implementation. As a staff this year more than ever, we have committed to monitoring our implementation of character education and behavior in every staff meeting. In addition we have added some additional elements to our program that have demonstrated great effects:

  • Teaching behavior and character similar to how we teach academics (classroom behavior lessons and Second Step lessons utilized for this purpose)
  • Established Positive Behavior and Character Team with a diverse representation of the staff
  • Implementation of Strive for Five Expectations School Wide
  • District and school Vision and Mission statement encompasses Character
  • Passport Behavior Teaching Day- Students went from station to station to learn
  • Reward System school wide, classroom, and individual (Character Award winners monthly and positive referrals to parents)
  • Classroom Compliment Chart- Classrooms get to fill in their chart for demonstrating good behavior and character. The class that fills the chart gets an incentive along with the teacher
  • Recognizing teachers and school staff demonstrating good character and strive for five
  • Incorporating Behavior and Character in the after school program
  • Utilizing moral action activities when working with students (Example: Students who use to be bullies create behavior lessons to younger students on how to teach empathy and respect)

Polk staff was involved every step of the way in preparing for the Bonner Award application. As a staff, we believe in teaching and modeling behavior and character with, and helping students acquire, those virtues or moral habits that will help them individually live good lives and at the same time become productive, contributing members of their communities.

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Ronald W. Reagan Elementary School
Sanger Unified School District
559-524-6780
Principal: Mr. John Hannigan

Reagan Elementary is a strong Response to Intervention school for both academics and behavior. This year, we focused on strengthening the behavioral side of our Response to Intervention pyramid. As a result, we created a system to teach our students positive behavior with S.O.A.R., which stands for Self Control, On Task, Achievement, and Respect. We created a behavior grid with our school wide expectations and rules that are posted in all settings. As a staff, we agreed on a S.O.A.R. signal that is utilized by staff as a visual reminder and prompt for students to display appropriate behaviors in all settings. To positively reinforce students for displaying appropriate individual, classroom, and school wide behaviors, incentives are incorporated and aligned with the taught school wide expectations.

All staff, including our custodian, cafeteria workers, librarian, office manager, noon aides, and bus drivers, hand out “Caught S.O.A.Ring” tickets to students who demonstrate positive character traits throughout the day in the classroom, on the playground, in the library, and in the cafeteria. Each Friday afternoon during announcements, S.O.A.R. tickets are drawn for students to come up to the office and choose a prize from Mr. Hannigan’s Treasure Box. Our increased focus on behavior has had a tremendous impact on our school and community culture. We believe that making our expectations clear and using a common language, have resulted in a positive atmosphere for all students, families, and staff. As a result, our office discipline referrals and suspension rates has decreased by over 75% from any previous school year, which means more students in school learning.

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Red Bank Elementary School
Clovis Unified School District
559-327-7800
Principal: Mr. Kevin Peterson

Red Bank Elementary School reflects the educational philosophy of the Clovis Unified School District (CUSD) that each student shall be given an equal opportunity to reach his/her greatest mental, spiritual, and physical potential. This is evident in Red Bank’s mission statement that “we will work together to meet the needs of every student by developing self-sufficient problem solvers who strive to be exemplary in mind, body, and spirit.” The philosophy that all students may become productive, contributing members of society is one that is adhered to by the Red Bank team through Clovis Unified School District’s Character Counts program and implementation of an interactive leadership system. This concept and expectation is continually and consistently promoted at Red Bank through verbal and written communication, awards presentations, teachers, staff, and administrative role models as well as an extensive co-curricular program.

Embedded in the Red Bank Elementary School curriculum is a focus on the significance of reasoned moral and ethical choices which promote fairness, equity, caring and respect for others. This is evident in daily lessons and curriculum in each classroom. Students learn to evaluate situations and make positive and constructive decisions as they examine events. A greater understanding and acceptance of student diversity is manifested throughout the school language arts, writing, and social science curriculum. The integration of character education with district and California State Standards is a fun combination at Red Bank.

Students who are “caught showing good character” receive coupons that go into a drawing for a Character Counts luncheon every three weeks with the principal. Quarterly awards are given to students at a school wide assembly who demonstrate exemplary character.

A comprehensive co-curricular program, including interscholastic competitions in: athletics, chorus, band, drama, Oral Interpretation, Art Club, and a variety of poster and essay contests, is made available to students. Students are also encouraged to participate in student leadership and government. The activities are designed and administered to teach skills and provide a vehicle to develop positive character traits. Students are allowed to experience success and failure in many contexts, as well as address issues relating to values. At sporting events “Athletes of Character” from the opposing team are recognized and awarded a certificate at the end of each A Team game. These athletes are selected by displaying good sportsmanlike conduct and playing with character.

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Sanger Academy Charter School
Sanger Unified School District
559-524-6840
Principal: Ms. Christy Platt

Sanger Academy Charter School’s charter is based on the philosophy of educating the whole child by promoting core values of honesty, integrity, trust, and the pursuit of academic excellence. Our charter has a compact, which is an agreement between the school, students, and parents to promote good charter, values and student’s success. Community of Caring is important to Sanger Unified School District and members of our community, the SACS staff has worked to integrate character education into their academic curriculum as well as athletic and co-curricular activities. SACS’ staff, students, and parents believe that these core values, along with the strong educational commitment will provide an educational experience which will ensure our students have every opportunity to be a successful, contributing member of our community.

SACS incorporated the five traits of a Community of Caring; Respect, Responsibility, Family, Caring and Trust into its academic and behavioral plan for the school. Additionally, we also actively implemented the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. The foundation for this program is the discussion time that students receive during their class meetings that focus on the definition of bullying and the four anti-bullying rules-

  1. We will not bully others.
  2. We will try to help students who are bullied.
  3. We will try to include students who are left out.
  4. If we know that somebody is being bullied, we will tell an adult at school and an adult at home.

SACS believes students who show a dedication to enrichment opportunities and competition, whether they are academic, practical, artistic or creative, are students who show a passion and dedication to learning and doing what is right. We believe this is a quality that ensures success.

The Community of Caring program also adds to the culture of SACS. It instills a sense of purpose to the work of students. It goes beyond academic learning and encourages practical application in dealing with social situations and giving back to our community while supporting our family oriented culture. Our goal is to instill in our students a sense of community and a willingness to help others who are in need. This year, SACS has participated in numerous activities within our community and all students are encouraged to join in our efforts. We highly believe that students learn best by action. Within our community of Sanger, several opportunities have arisen to put our values into action; whether it is by helping to raise money for a sick child or providing food and clothing to local families in need, we strive to contribute in a positive way.

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William Saroyan Elementary School
Central Unified School District
559-276-3131
Principal: Mr. Brad Edmunds

At Saroyan Elementary we believe it’s essential to provide a safe and nurturing learning environment that promotes the values of Character Counts!, recognizes diversity, promotes respect, and encourages students to strive for excellence. It is our aim to provide learning experiences that result in measurable growth for all students, to help them reach their potential for success in college, career and community.

Saroyan Elementary employs our Positive Behavior Intervention and Support education program, which focuses on attributes of character like trustworthiness, respect, responsibility and being ready for success at all time. Our school believes that it is important for students to display good character qualities, both in and out of the school setting. Everyone makes mistakes including students; it is our responsibility to assist students in learning from their mistakes and to become better citizens in the process. Saroyan believes in a firm, fair, and consistent assertive discipline model with students. Behavior expectations are clearly stated throughout the school. It’s important for students not only to understand the “why” of their mistakes but how to correct them which creates a positive school wide climate for all.

Saroyan Elementary uses a variety of things to promote character and positive behavior traits throughout all aspects of our school. Some but not all include:

  • Caught Being Good!– Every day students can be Caught Being Good just for well being good. The program is designed to catch kids when they least expect it for displaying behavior that is responsible, respectful, safe and trustworthy. There is no limit to the amount of tickets they can earn in a day or week and at the end all the tickets are entered into separate drawings one for primary grades and one for upper grades. Six students are selected randomly and their names announced over the intercom to come down to the office and pick out a prize and there are some great prizes.
  • Peer Mediators– This program teaches our students leadership and responsibility skills by training them to resolve conflicts between other kids on their own. The mediators are trained on listening, respecting, and gaining trust of their fellow students so when a situation arises they can insert themselves into the conflict and settle peacefully. They are an important asset to the school and their assistance in the cafeteria and playground have resulted in fewer discipline referrals and exhibiting more caring and fairness among each other.
  • Positive Behavior and Supportive Interventions – Last year our staff sat down and developed further expectations we wanted our students to learn to enhance Character Counts! We came up with our PBIS expectations that are Stallions are always Respectful, Stallions are always Responsible, Stallions are always Safe and Stallions are always Ready. Triple RS! Our Stallions are not only expected to know these four things but to exhibit them as well.

Setting high expectations for students and parents with important ethical values is a continuing goal for our school. Saroyan strives to meet our goals in preparing our students for success in college, career and community by consistently reinforcing a caring, nurturing atmosphere of trust between teachers, parents and staff.

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Sequoia Elementary School
Sanger Unified School District
559-524-7500
Principal: Mr. Karl Kesterke

Sequoia Elementary consistently promotes core ethical values and strong student character as a part of our culture. We believe that self-esteem is critical to the development of the whole child, as is evidenced by our participation in a wide variety of activities and programs designed to support this belief.

We believe that students should be recognized for their good behavior rather than being identified for their mistakes. Every classroom has a progressive color-card behavior chart where students pull cards based on their classroom behavior. If a student breaks a school rule they pull a card. Each additional infraction results in another card pull. Students who pull cards are given the opportunity throughout the day to improve their behavior and “pull up” to get their card back to green which indicates a good day. Students that stay on green every day each month are recognized at our monthly awards as a member of “Team Green.” Students who model exceptional behavior in class or who model the Community of Caring values are recognized with “Wildcat Gold.” Wildcat Gold students from each classroom receive a special prize each Friday following the morning announcements. Aside from our progressive discipline charts within each classroom, we have additional opportunities for students and classrooms to be recognized for good behavior inside and outside of their classroom. A P.A.W.S. (Practice safety – Act responsibly – Work hard – Show Respect) behavior matrix was created by the PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention Support) Team and approved by the staff. The matrix focuses on the three behavior hot spots on campus: the classroom, the playground, and the cafeteria. The behavior matrix was posted throughout campus to insure consistent implementation. Parents and students were also given copies of the matrix to support clear understandings of Sequoia behavior expectations. All staff members on campus carry P.A.W.S. tickets that are to be given to students whose behavior exemplifies the initiative within the behavior matrix. Students tear their tickets in half, with one half going into a weekly drawing and the other half is collected until the student has 10 tickets that can be cashed in for the monthly prize. A compliment form is given to each classroom which track the number of compliments, based on good behavior that a classroom receives. At the end of each month, the classroom in each building with the most compliments receives a classroom prize and the teacher receives a “duty free” pass.

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Springville Union Elementary School
Springville Union School District
559-539-2605
Principal: Ms. Connie S. Owens

The Springville Union School community strives for excellence in all aspects of education. We believe that multi-faceted, accomplished students are the product of inspired, enlightened teaching. At Springville Elementary, all members of our school community; teachers, parents, family, staff and students plan an important role in providing an opportunity and environment for excellence in education.

At Springville School, we strive to provide endless opportunities to develop our students through academic excellence, character education and producing a well-rounded student body through athletics, music, drama and the arts. We are one of very few schools who continue to offer music classes, drama, daily athletics, and oral communication performances year after year, to ensure students are exposed to a wide array of knowledge and abilities during their education.

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Sundale Union Elementary School
Sundale Union Elementary School District
559-688-7451
Principal: Ms. Cindy Gist

Schools can promote core ethical values as the basis of good character by setting the standard. Taking the opportunity to communicate with the students the importance of good character must be taken advantage of. As students make poor decisions, one must take the opportunity to discuss the character traits that were violated. Having students write about their actions and connect it to the CC! pillar. The language needs to be used throughout the day by all staff and shared with parents so it becomes part of the common language at the school. Students need to have an understanding of what trustworthiness, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship mean. Through providing character education in schools, it provides a complimentary climate to support good character as well as productive citizens in our community.

Having the core values of good character embedded in everyday teaching through literature and the core subjects brings the conversation into the classroom as a natural component. This helps to be proactive, by using characters within the literature as examples for students to make the connection to real life situations. This ensures a better understanding for all and an opportunity for students to role-play situations that they may be a part of sometime in their life. Educating our parents through parent education classes and messages on all notifications that go home, as well as on the school’s website; recognizing students for their outstanding behavior and Character, such as with luncheons, positive phone calls home by the principal, morning announcements, and staff development continue to foster the character development amongst our students.

Schools can provide opportunities for moral action with by giving back to the community. This is truly a civic virtue and a prominent component of the pillar citizenship. In order to maintain a balance between volunteering, raising money and pursuing the common good, the following opportunities are strategically organizes for students and staff to contribute: donations to the Women’s Shelters, Collecting items for the needy, Fundraising for the Children’s Hospital, singing during the Holidays at the local Convalescent Homes, and providing gifts to children who are less fortunate.

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Tipton Elementary School
Tipton Elementary School District
559-752-4213
Principal: Ms. Stacy Bettencourt

The vision of Tipton Elementary is providing instruction that integrates character development and academic achievement for all students. Tipton’s Educational Programs challenge their students to the highest levels of academic excellence and provide them with ethical decision-making tools to support their choices in life. In addition, students are educated and encouraged to be participating citizens and successful leaders of the 21st century.

An essential part of the overall vision of Tipton is the adoption of the character education program CHARACTER COUNTS! Over 630 students walk Tipton’s campus daily and are exposed to the character development messages surrounding their environment. Posters, quotations and banners are displayed in the school offices, classrooms, library, and the multipurpose room. Teachers have supported the infusion of character education by realigning their classroom rules to mirror the Six Pillars of Character found on the disciplinary forms and the Person of Character Posters hung throughout the campus and classrooms. Our parent involvement and utilization of community resources assist in bridging the gap between the home and school. This collaboration provides a sound partnership so that students hear a consistent message about character traits essential for success in school and life.

Tipton has added a new elective class for 7th and 8th grade students, which focuses on promoting good character and positive life choices. In such a short period, achievements have been seen through the support of local media advocating Tipton School’s efforts by highlighting what Tipton Students are doing to help their local community. Through aligning classroom curriculum, Tipton’s upper grade students have made progress in connecting with our community and becoming productive citizens. An elective class called, Make a Difference was created to expand students’ knowledge and create a broader awareness of community needs in a society. The quote from Edwards Everett Hale, “I am only one…I cannot do everything, but I can do something…” begins the class followed by students reading and researching different organizations and people that have made a difference in the world.

Tipton School may be considered the hub of the community, yet our school considers the community a vital resource and contributor to student success ethically and academically. A perfect example of this relationship exists within our TES Kiwanis Afterschool Program. The name is a testimonial to the supportive relationship among our school and the local Kiwanis Organization. Our afterschool program is a major contributor to the proliferation of character education among our youth and community members. In December 2010, we began introducing the Six Pillars of Character every month for the students to become familiar with the behavior expectations in association with each pillar. As of August 2011, our program implements the Six Pillars of Character throughout the discipline plan, homework assignments, and daily activities. It is the goal of the TES Kiwanis Afterschool Program to cultivate productive students with good character transferring this behavior to their home, community and school environment. This enables them to become strong in their daily decision-making skills as they mature into adults. Promoting character education continues to evolve and the students, staff and local community that Tipton School serves have graciously embraced the culture change.

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Valley Preparatory Academy Charter
Fresno County Office of Education
559-225-7737
Principal: Shelly Melton-Lether

Valley Prep believes the school’s mission of core academics and character education integration reflects how an educated person will succeed in the 21st century.

The mission of Valley Preparatory Academy Charter School is to be a safe and healthy environment providing opportunity for all students to become lifelong learners through excellence in character development, academic skills, and physical wellness. Our core values: TRUSTWORTHINESS, EMPATHY, CITIZENSHIP, and DILIGENCE represent the overarching themes of our character traits practiced each month. These traits include trustworthiness, empathy, respect, citizenship, caring, fairness, honesty, courage, responsibility, diligence, and integrity. Our school motto, “Character is our Keystone”, connotes the vital importance of character as the key component that holds our school together. This year our school wide initiative is called “Build a Bridge”.

Morning “greet and meet” was established early in the beginnings of our school. The practice was expanded after reading Dr. Hal Urban’s book: Lessons from the Classroom. Students are greeted by their teachers at each classroom door daily. With the implementation of WiseSkills Character curriculum, every classroom begins the school day with the morning meeting that supports character education development and life skills. Teachers also thread character throughout all subjects.

Each month, Valley Prep joins together for a school-wide assembly and celebration of the monthly character trait. Parents attend the celebration as cross-graded teams take turns presenting. The assemblies focus on best character practices (music, videos, skits, recitations, etc.) rather than individual student recognition.

Valley Prep values a student discipline plan that is fair, restorative, and consistent. Our school discipline plan is patterned after The Discipline That Restores book and model by Dr. Ron Claassen and Roxanne Claassen (Fresno Pacific University). DTR focuses on peer mediation, respect agreements among teachers, students, school and staff, and cooperative conflict resolution using The Peacemaking Model. The Peacemaking Model allows students choice in deciding how to resolve conflicts. Students also learn anti-bullying skills, and problem solving through critical thinking. The middle grades use the peer mediation curriculum, Making Things Right, designed by Roxanne Claassen to learn peer mediation skills.

Recently our school premiered its new Patriot Leadership Award rubric. Leadership is open to all students in third through eighth grades and recognizes achievement and improvement in all areas of school life. Students set personal goals and work toward accomplishment and recognition of these goals. Older students are encouraged to be role models for younger students as a way to demonstrate leadership.

Valley Prep students participate in grade level appropriate service learning throughout the academic school year. The service-learning component of the curriculum is designed to show students how their student initiated learning and actions can make a purposeful contribution to their community. Service learning projects are integrated into the core curriculum and linked to the state content standards. Examples of past and current service learning include making and donating blankets to homeless shelters, canned food drives, animal shelter fundraisers, researching and contributing to the Fresno Historical Society, gift-giving for children whose family members are in need, and serving at local community food distribution site.

Valley Prep staff affirms that the most significant part of our character program is our commitment to positive relationships. We frequently remind and encourage each other that character makes the difference. Visitors to Valley Prep frequently comment on the caring climate. In 2011, Valley Prep was recognized by CEP (Character Education Partnership) as a California State School of Character.

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Weldon Elementary School
Clovis Unified School District
559-327-8300
Principal: Mr. Ray Lozano

Weldon provides a meaningful character education program implemented in all classrooms at all grade levels. As one example, on a school-wide basis, during the month of October, all students studied the value of ‘Trustworthiness.’ Classrooms focused on being honest in making decisions as part of our two week Red Ribbon Week celebration that ended with a parade through the community. This year’s Grand Marshall was television personality Margot Kim from ABC Channel 30. Ms. Kim led the parade along with Clovis Unified School District Superintendent, Dr. Janet Young.

Students and their families, as well as the instructional staff, are involved in the character development process at the beginning of each school year. All character pillars are discussed within classrooms and displayed in the school cafeteria year round. In an effort to promote awareness, each week, staff recognizes Character Counts by wearing a “Got Character?” shirt every Wednesday. Weldon Elementary places an emphasis on a particular Pillar of Character each month. Weldon’s PTC recognizes Warriors of Character (WOC) each month. One student per classroom is selected by the teacher for displaying good character with their actions and words. PTC awards each Warrior of Character with a shirt. Each week at Weldon Staff Meetings, one staff member is awarded the Pillar of Character Plaque. This award recognizes staff members who go above and beyond in all they do. Principal Ray Lozano awarded the first Pillar of Character. Each subsequent recipient then selects a staff member to recognize and does so by explaining why they have selected the individual. The Pillar of Character for the month is disseminated to the school’s stakeholders via staff calendars, parent newsletters, and the school website. Additionally, the Character Pillar of the month is reiterated on morning announcements each week.

Weldon Elementary School uses the Time to Teach Program. This is an evidence based classroom management model that uses practical, proven, and powerful strategies. All of the strategies are research based and allow teachers and administrators a school-wide discipline approach that yields positive results – more on task, accelerated learning, and happier students. With this program, students gain a feeling of security through rules and routines. These rules and routines reinforce the skills that every student must have in order to be a successful learner, and allow a teacher to be a fair disciplinarian. The Teach To’s establish a safe and effective learning environment and manage the increasing number of students with troubling behavior to create school-wide discipline policies that are applied consistently and supported by staff, parents, students, and administrators. Discipline policies ultimately set the tone for the operation of the entire school. They establish clear boundaries of tolerance and promote proactive, positive learning environments. Students are taught the expected behavior and held accountable to follow the expectations. This helps students behave at school, at home, within the community, and allows teachers more time to teach.

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Wilson Elementary School
Selma Unified School District
559-898-6730
Principal: Ms. Brenda Sylvia

Woodrow Wilson Elementary of Selma Unified strives to implement character education and behavior development through its signature program, Positive Behavior Intervention Systems. In the last few years, Wilson has implemented this program through a PBIS team consisting of Resource Specialist Director, Site Principal, Program Manager, Teachers, Speech Pathologist, and District School Psychologist. A series of certificated and classified staff developments took place in which we began maturing our school expectations from the 3 B’s (Be safe, Be Respectful, and Be responsible) to an expectations matrix used to teach specific behaviors each area of our campus. Teachers gave feedback and created their own matrices for classroom expectations. Faculty also worked to create systematic behavior logging through the creation of our office referral and ICU positive reinforcement tools. Our students and staff worked together to further the expectations message around campus through a training video where faculty portrayed non-examples and student portrayed examples of following expectations about campus. Service learning is a constant with activities and events available to our student body that reflect the monthly character trait.

This year, Wilson Elementary continues to fine-tune our character education through:

  • continued character student of the month awards ceremonies
  • a campus-wide card chart system
  • monthly incentive celebrations for positive behavior
  • monthly referral reports from our data collection tool to aid in collaboration and action planning among the staff
  • continued training for staff in order to keep the positive message clear and consistent.
  • explicit direct instruction and role play for solving dilemmas such as bullying and gossip.
  • expanding our site’s repertoire of strategies available to students as they resolve conflicts

Many other sites are looking to Wilson as an exemplar of teaching its student to show great character traits day in and day out.

Wilson prides itself on the implementation of PBIS, but accredits its positive effect on student behavior to the support from the community, parents, and teachers. Wilson teachers are consistently kind, fair, and respectful in a way that motivates their students to be safe, respectful, and responsible. The classroom and campus climate encourages the students at Wilson to be leaders in our community that show exceptional character.

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Wilson Elementary School
Tulare City School District
559-685-7260
Principal: Mr. John Pendleton

Members of the Wilson staff understand the importance of character education in public school and work diligently to create an environment at school that supports the concept of mutual respect and adherence to the principles found within CHARACTER COUNTS!

Our “balanced approach” to how school should operate on a daily basis is clear and based on the principles of tolerance and dignity. Members of our staff realize that developing and maintaining a strong academic program is dependent on positive relationships. As a Program Improvement School, we also understand that real school improvement begins with healthy relationships that are based on mutual respect. It is not by chance that the “Golden Rule” serves as the guidepost for what types of behavior we promote and expect from all members of our school community.

In an effort to strengthen our approach to character education and clearly define Wilson as a unified school community, students, staff, and parents were re-introduced to three key character traits taken from two previously used character education programs. The values of Courage, Honor, and Respect were adopted as our Core Values. In doing so, members of a very diverse school community who had previously identified themselves with a school name or mascot, now identified themselves through their adopted core values. Known as “The Three Feathers of the Warrior Nation,” these values now serve as a guide to daily conduct and a gateway to CHARACTER COUNTS!

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Wilson Elementary School
Sanger Unified School District
559-524-6900
Principal: Ken Garcia

Our on-going task at Wilson Elementary is to continue to refine and upgrade our academic and social programs to meet the needs of the world that our students are facing now and in the future. We are working on improving our systems of positive behavioral supports for our students.

Through collaborative discussion and planning, our faculty and administration has created a school-wide plan and is in the process of sharing it with support staff and students to advance our current system of positive behavior into another level of support. It is our hope that this will enable us to build sustained values and good character that will last for a lifetime and become motivated intrinsically. Around the campus, students will be encouraged and reminded to:

  1. Believe – Believe in ourselves and others to do the right thing.
  2. Achievement – Achieve to our full potential both in and out of the classroom.
  3. Respect – We will respect everyone’s right to learn and achieve.
  4. Kindness – Be kind to each other at all times.

Our Bulldog B.A.R.K. Program will recognize and inspire students to practice character-building habits in the classroom, hallways, cafeteria, playground, library, and restrooms and be recognized for the strides they make as individuals, as a classroom community, and as a school community.

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Promising Practices from the 2010 Virtues and Character Award Winning Schools

(Excerpts from the applications)

 

Centerville Elementary School (256 students; Pre-K -6)
Sanger Unified School District, Sanger, CA 93657
559-787-2511
Principal: Lisa Houston

Centerville (CV) School community has agreed on the core ethical values it wishes to promote through participating in the district Community of Caring (CoC) program. CoC is a whole school approach to developing character with roles for staff, students, parents and the school community. It has a cohesive framework with components and five core values that provide a common language and a cohesive structure to serve as a foundation for all school activities.

A core group of students, staff, and community members was established to develop and annually modify the CoC action plan, which contains ideas for activities promoting the five core values. The group also contains a site facilitator who meets with students, staff, and families to ensure the plan is being implemented with fidelity. Additionally, our five core values are posted throughout the school in English and Spanish to reflect our school's cultural diversity.

The CoC program is evidenced based. Our students, teachers, and school community believe this program to be important for our students due to the positive outcome it has and continues to provide. Our students do well on state and district assessments; have high attendance rates and act with empathy. Bullying has been dramatically reduced. This level of influence on our students is why our teachers and school community members believe that it is important.

CV's character education program continues to achieve its goals every year. This is measured by using the following assessment tools:

  1. Attendance - The attendance at CV currently is 97%.
  2. Bully Prevention Surveys - Last year, we administered out first bully prevention survey. We have and hope to continue making substantial progress in the area of bully prevention.
  3. Parent Surveys - At the end of each year, our parents are presented with a survey, which rates the school. CV always has a 100% return rate on the surveys. The results of the survey also reflect the parents' satisfaction with our school and our character education program.
  4. STAR Results - CV has always strived for academic excellence. Our STAR scores continue to increase.
  5. Staff Surveys - Yearly, our staff is presented with an anonymous survey. The survey reflects the staff's opinion on the school environment. This survey supports strong acknowledgement of the core values of CV.

CV's staff is intentional and proactive in addressing character education at all grade levels as we concentrate on one value for a two-month period. Each classroom has grade-level appropriate literature and videos that exemplify each of the five character traits. Each classroom teacher goes above and beyond the district-required activities to design and teach lessons that are appropriate for the needs of their individual classroom. Our Peer Mediators and Got Fun Squad plan activities for our weekly school meeting around the flagpole that unite our school as a CoC. The activities range from songs, to skits, and even famous quotes that inspire us to be better community members.

CV offers tutoring, crafts, sports, fieldtrips, opportunities to help beautify the campus, PTA functions, Toys for Tots, food drives, Coats for Kids, Toyland Parade, musical and drama productions, Harvest Festival, Carnival, Muffins with Mom, Doughnuts with Dad, Grandparent's Day, relief drives, ethnic dinners, and movie nights. CV has partnered with a local business to plant trees in the community, as well. Classrooms are responsible for choosing, planning and maintaining much of our landscaped and garden area.

CV makes it a priority for students to contribute in meaningful ways to the school, to others and to the community. Classes have adopted needy families in our community, which reinforces our CoC values. CV is very proud of our success story with at-risk students, including a small percentage of homeless that are living in tents and cars within our boundaries. We have collected money for our local children's hospital, fire, hurricane and tsunami victims. Other opportunities to give have come through holiday food drives, Toys for Tots, Coats for Kids, Kid's Day newspaper sales, and periodic cleanup and tree plantings at our local China Creek Park. Fundraising events become community affairs and are strongly supported by staff, parents and community members.

The quote ...and our district motto, "Every Child, Every Day! Whatever It Takes!" are proudly displayed in each of our classrooms and serve as our guiding vision. CV and the district set high standards for our staff, students and community that go beyond academic success and require everyone involved to set examples that the community can observe and respect. CoC values are posted alongside the State Content Standards.

Our monthly character assemblies recognize students who exemplify our CoC characteristics. These functions reinforce school policies and behavioral expectations. Assemblies, which develop self-esteem, are brought to CV; self-esteem development is part of our regular curriculum in the classroom through integration and teacher modeling. An example would be the concept of integrity. Acting with integrity is an essential component of successful interpersonal relationships on our site. Our staff must do this with students, parents and one another. Emphasis is provided through classroom rules and expectations, books, and quotes which are located in our classrooms and throughout the school. Morning messages provided by our Peer Mediators further support this emphasis.

During the past school year, the CV staff has been trained and implemented the Quit It Program (grades K-2) and the Olweus Bulling Prevention Program (grades 3-6th). The programs focus on providing all students with tools to prevent bullying, whether they are directly or indirectly involved. The curriculum includes role-playing activities and classroom meetings, which develop skills needed in recognizing bullying and the roles and responsibilities all students have in dealing with various situations. The anti-bullying curriculum is the foundation to the CV Behavioral Intervention program and has proven to be very effective in decreasing classroom and playground discipline.

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Mickey Cox Elementary School (571 students; K-6)
Clovis Unified School District, Clovis, CA
559-327-6400
Principal: Cheryl Floth

At the beginning of each school year, the administrative team and staff of Mickey Cox agree to prioritize Character Education and promote all of the character traits as an essential component to success inside and outside of the classroom. Students expect the staff to be role models of the six pillars of character. It is the goal of our school to emulate these characteristics within the activities involving the mind (academics), body (co-curricular activities), and spirit (character development and interpersonal relationships). We believe it is our responsibility to promote and encourage ethical values as the basis of good character and development of our children in becoming productive and engaged citizens.

Within the first days of school, we conduct a Character Counts! assembly at which our administrative team speaks to the student body. We review our school's rules and expectations, review all of the pillars of character, and model age appropriate examples of how to be great examples of character. This assembly is held also at the start of the second semester and is valuable in reviewing the type of behavior and character traits that we promote. Embedded in the Mickey Cox Elementary School curriculum is a focus on the significance of reasoned moral and ethical choices.

We believe in producing students with a broad perspective and appreciation of backgrounds and experiences unlike their own. Our multi-cultural CAFÉ (Children and Friends in Education) Club continues to promote diversity at our school and serves as a reminder to our students that our interdependence on each other binds us in respect and appreciation. The annual CAFÉ Club Potluck and Fashion Show is a wonderful example of students sharing the cultural flair of food and dress.

Our student government and CAFÉ Club elect students to their governing bodies twice a year and we find that our student body is well represented from students of all nationalities and ethnicities. The activities established for students serving as Student Body or CAFE Club officer are designed to teach leadership skills and provide a vehicle to develop positive character traits.

In conjunction with our student body officers, community service efforts included collection of canned foods and money to provide meals for our most needy families, collection and distribution of coats for our kids, and volunteering to sell local Kids' Day Newspapers. Student body officers made presentations to all classrooms seeking the support of the classroom teacher and students to donate various items as mentioned above. Earlier in the year, the student body officers also held a pumpkin-carving contest in which each classroom was encouraged to enter one carved or dressed pumpkin exhibiting a character trait related to Red Ribbon Week. Each pumpkin was proudly displayed in the cafeteria for all students to see and reflect on the Character Counts! traits.

This year's motto at Mickey Cox is "Carpe Diem". One of our school goals this year is for our students to apply the motto of "seizing the day" as it relates to the difficult encounters they are presented. We believe and wish to teach our students that character development is not always easy, but the reward of a lifetime of living as an ethical person displaying principles of character are priceless.

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Del Rey Elementary School (279 students; K-6)
Sanger Unified School District, Del Rey, CA
559-888-2056
Principal: Susan Fitzgerald

We have adopted two programs to support explicit teaching of core values and appropriate decision making for students: The Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, and The Second Step Character Education Program. These programs support The Community of Caring Program (CoC) that has been established since 1996 at Del Rey Elementary School. The Community of Caring Program is built upon the five core traits that indicate exemplary character: Respect, Responsibility, Trust, Caring, and Family. Through explicit instruction in the adopted programs, the five character traits, and real life volunteer projects, we have created a cohesive system where all staff teach, model and promote the core character values, and students learn, practice and internalize those values.

Each Monday morning is devoted to explicit teaching through the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program and the Second Step Character Education Program. Weekly classroom meetings bring students and teacher together to create a community wherein each student's opinion, feelings, and thoughts are honored and real life situations are discussed, modeled, and practiced. Our school calendar highlights a monthly trait. Teachers emphasize the trait throughout the month, through lessons and examples. Monthly awards assemblies, honor students who exemplify the monthly trait. These students then receive a certificate, a gift and their photo is displayed in the cafeteria where all students can see them as they enter for lunch.

Peer Mediators monitor and assist with student disputes on the playground empowering students to problem solve with peers. We have also implemented Knight Safety Officers this year. Each classroom participates on a rotating basis. The students patrol the campus during recess and look for any areas that might be a safety concern or cause disruption in exhibiting our traits. They then record their observations and turn them in to the principal. The thought process behind this is the internalization of making good choices in all aspects of school life.

Mr. DeAnda, our custodian, takes great pride in the school and constantly ensures the campus is maintained. Work orders are quickly fixed by the district to support our desire for a clean, well-kept campus. Students contribute to campus beautification through weekly litter removal, and campus beautification projects, such as planting flowers and making welcome banners.

Parent volunteers work as safety monitors and role models on campus to ensure the well being of students. Teachers at Del Rey believe in the potential of each child to be a contributing member of society, and to that end, model and teach the ethical and moral values inherent to success in society. Classroom Meetings bring a sense of community school wide. Our Learning and Educational Activities program (LEAP) provides a safe haven for students to attend after school. LEAP leaders coordinate educational enrichment activities building confidence and self-esteem.

Our teacher leader for The Kids Care Club, Mrs. Flores, keeps students actively involved in Acts of Kindness and in school and community projects. Graffiti removal downtown, leaf raking for neighbors, parades, food and clothing collections, are just some of the activities students participate in. The Kids Care Club has transformed the cafeteria into a display for Community of Caring. Our psychologist, Mr. Figueroa and counselor, Mrs. Rios also play a key role in student understanding of the core ethical values. Knowing that academic improvement and self-esteem go hand in hand, Mrs. Rios meets with student groups during Saturday school to promote peer assistance and improve student interactions as well as academics.

Our Blue Ribbon ceremony is an outstanding opportunity to build our character program as an outreach to students and the community. Each year, teachers are trained, and receive the "I Make A Difference" blue ribbons. During the classroom ceremony, teachers give each child a blue ribbon and tell the student how they have made a difference in their life. Each child is then given several blue ribbons, their task to go outside the school into the community and distribute the ribbons to people who have made a difference in their lives. Students then report back at the classroom meetings and describe their experiences. It is an incredible opportunity for recognition and giving.

Peer mediation has created a large group of leaders on campus who are role models for the other students. Student Council decision-making develops leadership and our school Knight Safety Patrol builds pride and confidence at all grade levels as students are empowered to make decisions about right and wrong.

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Fairmont School (480 students; K-8)
Sanger Unified School District, Sanger, CA
559-292-0220
Principal: Tim Lopez

The school community adopted the district-wide Community of Caring character education program in 2003. Community of Caring is a character-building program founded by Eunice Kennedy Shriver. The Community of Caring core values of Respect, Responsibility, Family, Caring, and Trust are embedded in daily instruction, displayed in every classroom, and reinforced in the community. The Sanger City Council has adopted and reinforces the Community of Caring program through activities and the Community of Caring logo is present throughout the city.

The Fairmont School Community of Caring program develops and reinforces, in students and school staff, character traits through adult modeling, and curriculum integration. In 2003, Fairmont established a Community of Caring coordinating committee to develop school goals, objectives and timelines related to the character education program. Stakeholders of the committee included faculty, staff and community members. The committee established the following goals:

  • Increasing knowledge of the importance of the five core values of Respect, Trust, Caring, Family, and Responsibility
  • Integrating the five core values throughout the school community
  • Developing, increasing, and sustaining school activities and programs that build character, self-esteem and encourage positive behaviors which reflect the five core values
  • Publicizing and increasing involvement of students, faculty, staff, administration, parents, and the community in the program

In 2007, Fairmont School established a Behavior Team to extend the character education program and develop a pyramid of behavioral interventions to support positive student behavior both inside and outside the classroom. The Behavior Team analyzed student discipline data and developed school-wide values that exemplify positive student character and behavior of a Fairmont Spartan. The school-wide values, known as the Spartan Code, are the following: Show Respect, Be Responsible, Do Your Personal Best, Always Learn, and Find a Victory. Each grade level developed criteria of student character and behavior that explained or demonstrated each Spartan Code value that was age appropriate.

Fairmont School employs several programs that promote positive student choices and reinforces character development. All teachers are trained and implement the Second Step curriculum, which is a federal and state approved program to meet the compliance requirement of Safe and Drug Free Schools (SFDS) to teach school wellness and healthy choices. In addition, The Fairmont school staff has been trained in and implement the Olwueus Bullying prevention program. Through the program, Fairmont school has adopted an anti-bullying stance through clear definitions of bullying, parent meetings, student kick-off assembly and most importantly, bi-monthly class meetings that promote student discussion and positive student choices. The Friendship Club and Special Friends programs address positive student social and behavior choices. Fairmont School implements a successful Peer Mediation program with 4th – 8th grade students. Staff and students received Peer Mediation training under the direction of Dr. Pam Lane-Garon at California State University, Fresno. Students provide appropriate identification and intervention of student conflict through the direction of staff to promote healthy student choices.

The school curriculum promotes healthy choices and physical activity. In addition, school health and wellness is reviewed yearly using the Center for Disease Control's School Health Index (CDCSHI). The CDCSHI is used to determine the climate of student and school safety, nutrition and wellness services, and physical activity on campus. The Harvest of the Month program incorporates nutrition in the classroom with fruit and vegetable sampling for all students. Each month a different fruit or vegetable is provided and literature is accompanied with the samples. FCOE is also an essential partner in many health and wellness activities at Fairmont School, but the most important is the nutrition curriculum, Five-a-Day Power Play. Students receive workbooks containing lessons on the food guide pyramid, nutrition guidelines, nutritional labels, and healthy eating habits. The Five-a-Day program provides fruit and vegetable visual cards with a variety of information, including season and area of production, texture, taste of food, and recipe ideas. Additionally, all Fairmont students participate in physical activity 180 minutes every 10 school days with fully credentialed PE staff.

Fairmont School promotes student participation in academic activities, collaborative projects, volunteering and service learning projects. School activities such as Young Author's Fair, Spelling Bee, Lip Sync, allow students to mix with students from other local schools to highlight their talents. Students at Fairmont participate in the Science Fair at the school, district regional and state levels. PTA-sponsored Reflections encourages students to look to their community as a means to express themselves through facets of fine arts such as photography and poetry. Our Peer Mediators and Pass It On students, CJSF, and Leadership Class students participate and plan many of our school activities and events in the community. Students from Fairmont participate in outside school activities through the 4-H, Girl Scout, and Boy Scout groups that promote hands-on experiences and community service.

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Figarden Elementary School (734 students; K-6)
Fresno Unified School District, Fresno, CA
559-451-4480
Principal: Larry Peterson

Figarden involves students, families, community members and site staff in the development process of promoting core ethical values by utilizing several media. We rely on information obtained by the California Healthy Kids survey, as well as parent and staff surveys as a tool to collect relevant data. Figarden hosts several committees that meet monthly and include community members, teaching staff, and administration. In these meetings, areas of concern and "brainstorming" sessions are held to address issues where needs or improvements to current programs can be mapped out.

The Figarden team deemed the study of character to be an integral part of our curriculum and paramount to teaching the whole child. Our staff has worked diligently over the past couple of years to lay an intervention framework to guide us as we implement our improvement actions. Our expectations for behavior are clearly defined and included in our handbook. Students exhibiting significant behavior difficulties are placed on an individualized behavior plan, which may include appointments with our Circle of Friends Group and or vice principal. Figarden Elementary School students know that "We treat everyone with courtesy and respect every day." One of our site goals is to instill in our students the belief that, Success is built by learning from challenges; we learn and grow from our mistakes. We have chosen to build upon a discipline philosophy that is not punitive, but instead an opportunity for our students to learn and grow both at school and home. Part of our discipline counseling involves talking about what the student could choose to do differently next time, based upon the pillars of character. When students walk away with tools, they are better equipped to make more responsible choices.

In brainstorming ideas with the teachers, we have asked them to reflect upon how they promote Character Counts! and give specific examples from the curriculum as to how character is tied into their daily lessons. Many of our teachers have a yearlong focus on celebrating diversity, which includes class projects and activities. For example, in February many of our classrooms will have a diversity focus on black history. Standards based classroom enrichment activities with a focus on African American History and lessons based on Respect, Caring and Fairness will be taught in classroom as we connect the principles from Character Counts! to leaders in African American History. As a site, we celebrate diversity by honoring the differences on our campus through various activities and events that allow our learning community to gain knowledge and understanding about each other. A prime example of our students honoring one another and embracing our differences is our Lego Club. Lego Club, run by one of our Special Day Class teachers allows students from outside Special Ed to come in to bond with and interact with students within the special education classroom

Figarden Elementary School now houses a Campus Culture Committee comprised of parent volunteers, teachers and administrative staff members. The Campus Culture Committee meets to generate ideas as well as to modify our working programs. It is the goal of the committee to provide a well-rounded quality program that works for and meets the needs of our students, staff and parents.

We reward our students and increase participation through our weekly recognition program. Figarden recognizes students each week who have demonstrated the individual pillars: Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring, and Citizenship, as well as additional areas, which include but are not limited to student leadership, teamwork, and good sportsmanship.

The Character Counts Tickets, which were new to Figarden in 2009, are proving to be a strong motivator on campus. All staff members have tickets displaying the character trait of the month to give to students demonstrating good character.

Student of the Month is a long time tradition. Each month six students, one from each grade level are acknowledged and honored by their teachers. Students are nominated by their teachers for the character trait of the month. Parents are then invited to join their student for an assembly in celebration of their success.

The Character Counts! Award will be presented at the end of the year to one sixth grade boy and girl who demonstrated exemplary character over the year. These students will be chosen based upon all six pillars: Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring, and Citizenship. Students will be honored at the end of the year during the sixth grade promotion ceremony.

One of the programs we are most excited about is our growing Leadership Program. Leadership ties in Trustworthiness, Responsibility, Fairness and Respect and Caring as key components in taking on the role of peer leader. It is the goal of our Leadership Program to provide our students opportunities for students to participate in community service and be recognized and rewarded for doing so. Our leadership students believe that service learning is an important part of any student's growth and preparation to become conscientious, responsible adults who care about their communities and want to be active participants in making our community a better place. Our program involves seventy-seven students as leaders, who also serve as role models in the school of how to embody Trustworthiness, Responsibility, Fairness and Respect. The program has been very successful, contributing a great deal to improving the school culture. The Leadership students also take on a leadership role as Ambassadors for New Students. This aspect of our program teaches Responsibility, Caring and Citizenship to our students. The Ambassadors model these character traits to the incoming students and help guide them in how to also represent these traits here at Figarden.

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Homan Elementary School (630 students; K-6)
Fresno Unified School District, Fresno, CA
559-457-2940
Principal: Suzanne Jones

Character Education has been supported by families at Homan for the last several years and Homan is proud to have received the Virtues and Character Recognition Award during the 2008-2009 school year. The program focuses on the six pillars of characters including the core values of Caring, Trustworthiness, Citizenships, Responsibility, Fairness and Respect. The staff beliefs that core values and beliefs are important to teach through a solid Character Education program. We continue to use GESA (Generating Expectations for Student Achievement) strategies to support equity for all students, and have begun to work on being Skillful Teachers through the professional development opportunities including core values and beliefs in education through the map of pedagogical knowledge. Homan was selected two years ago to participate in STOIC (Structured, Teach, Observe, Interact, Correct) training to improve behaviors of staff and students.

Through the support of professional development through "Skillful Teacher" we are currently reflecting on core beliefs and values through a map of pedagogical knowledge to support student learning.

Through character education, STOIC training, and our peer mediation program we have decreased the amount of assaults on the playground by fifty percent during the 2008-2009 school year. We are striving to have less assaults this year.

This year Homan is also emphasizing the pillar of "Caring". Students and parents organized a clothes exchange drive for our community because many of our lower socio-economics students needed new clothes. Students are learning to be responsible for themselves and to care for others.

At Homan elementary School character education is promoted on campus throughout the entire day. Our morning announcements include our values and support specific examples of behaviors that are aligned with our character education of excellence program. Students are reminded that caring students help keep the school clean. Responsible students turn in their homework. We all respect others by keeping our hands and feet to ourselves. In addition to our character reminder we salute the flag to show respect for our county. We have a peer mediation program, where students work with other students to solve problems and differences. These students carry clipboards, wear special red shirts and keep a log of all conflict resolutions. We have drawings for good character and promote good citizenship through special recognition.

Students take pride in a clean campus and enjoy assisting the custodian in raking leaves, watering plants and picking up trash around the campus. Classrooms and students take an active role in these responsibilities ensuring that our campus is kept clean. We emphasize that is everyone's responsible to show respect. The East Fresno Kiwanis Club has taken an active role for the last twelve years to support good citizenship and they reward students with bicycles for great attendance. The North Fresno Rotary Club has donated a free dictionary for the last four years to every third grade in the school to support good character.

Every year our school has collected food for needy families within our own community, and then we donate to the Poverello House. Service on our campus includes landscape beautification and recycling when possible. All these examples help to model the importance of service and learning, and thus building a commitment between the community and the school. We make community connections and family relationships are strengthened by events, and activities such as; Muffins with Moms, Family/Science Night, our Multi-cultural Carnival and fun events. We encourage community volunteers and many parents whom English is not their primary language to help around our school.

In the past two years we have modified our program in the following ways:

  • Two lead teachers have expanded their repertoire of curriculum to support peer mediation and conflict resolution through Fresno State trainings.
  • Staff has been provided trainings on the "Skillful Teacher" that includes incorporating core values and beliefs to support the map of pedagogical knowledge.
  • After school program and peer mediators have put on plays to support character education.
  • Training was provided for our Noontime Assistants to support our peer mediation program, conflict resolution and character education.
  • The staff participated in the STOIC – Structured, Teach, Observe, Interact, and Correct training provided by Dr. Randy Sprick to support Character Development and transitions in the classroom.
  • Students and parents had two clothes drives to prove a service learning opportunity to provide assistance to families in need.

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Jackson Elementary School (411 students; K=5)
Sanger Unified School District, Sanger, CA
559-875-5549
Principal: Adela Jones

Jackson School bases its core ethical values on those from a National program, Community of Caring. These core values serve as the backbone of the program and for character development. There are five main core ethical values: respect, responsibility, trust, family, and caring. Each of the five values is highlighted monthly as a focus for students and community members. The order in which the core values are highlighted throughout the year have been discussed and decided on by the staff and student representatives and is revisited yearly.

Responsibility starts off the school year as the highlighted core value. Our students and staff believe that each of us has a moral duty to each other to do "our part" in the world. Each of us has duties that impact others. Teaching responsibility helps to reinforce that each member of our team is depended on by others and must uphold his/her duties in order for all to be successful. This includes homework, behavior in class, and upholding school rules even when no one is looking. Respect is next as a featured core value. Kids learn the Golden Rule from the beginning of Kindergarten and it never ends. All of what is taught in character development has roots in respect.

In order for students to be successful in demonstrating character traits in the five core values, teachers and staff have weekly discussions with students about targeted behaviors and actions that positively demonstrate the core values. Bulletin boards are created in classrooms displaying outcomes of class discussions. The Principal interviews students in the cafeteria at lunch frequently about what the core value of the month looks like on campus and discuss opportunities to display said values. Kids are given a chance to respond on how they see the core value and what it means to them. Tips to parents for promoting core values at home are included in monthly newsletters sent home from the school. Small skits (5-10 minutes) are organized throughout the year by students and staff highlighting the core values and positive behavior and are shown school wide.

Keeping our campus free from negative influences, such as drugs, crime, and violence is also a critical part of character education and development. Sanger Unified works in coordination with Sanger Police Department to employ two full-time School Resource Officers, who deal only with Sanger students. In years past, these officers would teach the D.A.R.E. curriculum to every student in the District. The curriculum is now taught by classroom teachers with support from the officers. Sanger Unified Board of Education supports a zero tolerance policy for behaviors that jeopardize student safety. The campus is free from any graffiti and vandalism.

 

Jackson promotes positive social development and group cohesion through school policies and classroom instruction. Second step curriculum is used in every classroom and promotes positive social interaction and choices. Teachers incorporate the five core values into this curriculum, increasing overall infusion of these values into everyday actions. For students requiring additional intervention, small group and one-on-one programs are offered. Friendship Club is a small group atmosphere that uses state-approved curriculum to promote positive choices and behavior in social situations through role-playing and group discussions. Special Friends is a one-on-one program that targets student self-esteem and concept by providing structured time with an adult playing games and activities. These two programs serve students in grades K-3 and see over 70 students per year. Counseling services are provided for students in grades 4 and 5 as necessary with parent consent.

Jackson organizes opportunities for students to give back to their community. During the Fall, students rake leaves in the community at houses that are selected based on need. Groups of carolers are organized to tour the neighborhoods of Jackson spreading holiday cheer and good will. In the Spring, students have an opportunity to plant flowers on campus and in the community. Primary grade students go to an Alzheimer's Home to share poetry and writing with patients.

One of the biggest changes has been the implementation of a school-wide system to promote positive character education. Every adult on campus was extensively trained in teaching students how to identify bullying behavior, what to do if you witness bullying, and how to prevent this behavior in oneself and others. The nationally recognized curriculum, Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, is implemented in every classroom. Teachers hold bi-weekly meetings to discuss the rules and actions to prevent and address bullying. Students who do the right thing when it comes to bullying are recognized. A committee comprised of teachers, support staff, and a parent, meet monthly to ensure that our positive behavior program is being implemented successfully. School-wide rules were developed and are posted in every classroom and throughout the school to foster a safe environment. As part of measuring our progress, incidents are recorded in our data system, SWIS, and the data is reviewed by the committee to determine the best way to reduce incidences. Parents and community members were part of a school-wide community kick-off rally/family night. We work as a team to ensure that staff and students are in a safe and secure learning environment.

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Jefferson Elementary School (367 students; K-5)
Sanger Unified School District, Sanger, CA
559-875-4591
Principal: Cathy Padilla

Jefferson Elementary has been a "Community of Caring" school since the 1996 school year. This program, sponsored by the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation, was implemented as part of a grant award that targeted Jefferson and our district's middle school. Our site facilitator, Annette Husak, kindergarten teacher, has coordinated a group of staff members to function as our coordinating committee to meet and develop activities and an action plan for the school year. Membership of the coordinating committee includes teachers, parents, students and the principal. The coordinating committee meets once a month to plan monthly activities and discuss awards for students and ways to implement the core values in our school programs.

At Jefferson Elementary, initial implementation of the Community of Caring was facilitated by the staff's willingness to implement and model these core values. From the beginning, staff members have worked to continue on going, in-spite of lack of funding support, school awards for students who model core values, family night events and other activities to promote values not only with our students, but with their families and community. The five values are displayed in both English and Spanish in each classroom and office at Jefferson and our value banners are displayed in the cafeteria to remind everyone of our focus on character education.

With the development of an action plan each year, the coordinating committee has been able to integrate character education through the school year. "Caught Caring" pencils and "Caught with Character" tickets are given to students who demonstrate positive character traits. Once a month we have a Monday morning flag pole announcement with the entire school. We recite the flag salute, and students are reminded of the value we are focusing on and informed of any upcoming Community of Caring or fun works activities. Trimester award assemblies are a time where reading, math, and Community of Caring awards are given recognizing outstanding character and academic achievements of our students. We have a peer mediation program, where students work with other students to solve problems and differences. We also have a special club that was initiated by a group of students that wanted to make a contribution to keeping the campus clean. They rake leaves, pick up trash, and sweep the sidewalks. The club grew from four students to twenty-five.

The staff at Jefferson uses several activities to promote positive social development, group cohesion, caring and respect for others. We have a "Golden Broom" program where classrooms take turns being responsible ensuring that our campus is kept clean. Classrooms and students take an active role in this responsibility, and take their responsibility quite seriously. For the sixth year our local Rotary Club is partnered with our school to educate our students about various career and educational opportunities for our students future. This program has been critical in broadening our students' awareness of career possibilities and opportunities.

For the past several years we have had our fourth and fifth grade students participate in a series of Etiquette Classes provided by Cynthia Merrill's School of Performing Arts. Cynthia Merrill teaches our students how to appropriately introduce themselves, how to behave in a job interview, the importance of manners, and how to interact appropriately with others in a dance situation. After a series of four etiquette classes parents and students then participate in a Cotillion where they dress up and demonstrate all that they have learned. Parents and community members are invited to attend the Cotillion, and many have been impressed by what students accomplish.

Every year our student body raises money and collects cans for the needy during the Christmas Holiday. During the first year of implementation of our program, our students painted holiday decorations on the windows of a local grocery store. Our younger students passed out flowers to the store's customers. Every year our community benefits from the Jefferson Family Christmas Caroling, one of our many family night events. Jefferson families and students meet at the school, have dinner, play bingo and sing Christmas Carols. Parents and students ride on a horse drawn carriage through and around the neighborhoods singing and drinking hot chocolate. Around 225 students and parents participate in this great event. All of these examples help to model the importance of service learning and build commitment between the community and the school.

This year Jefferson students are getting first hand experience in community involvement. They have been active in expressing the need to repair a bridge that is across the street from the school. The bridge has been fenced off due to damages over the years. Those who live very close to the school have to walk several blocks around the fenced off bridge to get to the school. Through the efforts of many, the bridge is in the process of being repaired. Jefferson student council members have been given the privilege of naming the new bridge. The student council read through the bylaws for naming the bridge and came up with 3 possibilities and asked the student body to vote to declare the winner. Through this process, students did research and learned many interesting facts about their community. Jefferson student body officers will be attending a city council meeting to give their recommendation for the new bridge. The recommendation is "Jefferson Path". The first part of the name, "Jefferson," refers to the school in the area. The second part, "Path," refers to a pathway that leads to education. The naming of the bridge, "Jefferson Path", would honor both our school and community.

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Lincoln Elementary School (389 students; K-5)
Sanger Unified School District, Sanger, CA
559-875-5541
Principal: Ketti Davis

In order to ensure that we are making substantial progress towards our Character Education goals, we have created a positive Behavior Intervention Team. This team is comprised of representatives from primary and intermediate grades, support services, and a parent. This group meets monthly to determine our progress in the area of character education and to ensure that our positive behavior programs are being implemented and supported adequately. A new component to our school wide system and one that ensures an intentional and comprehensive approach to our core values is the introduction of the Olweus Bully prevention Program. We have identified the key rules to reducing incidents of bullying and teachers conduct bi-weekly class meetings with their students to support positive behavior and to teach the ways to identify a bully, what to do if being bullied, as well as what to do if you are a bystander that observes another student being bullied. Adults and community members have been included in this program through training and a Family Night Kick-Off Rally. Behavior offenses are tracked in a data system, SWIS, and this system allows our PBIS team to review behavior trends in specific locations and times of the day. We believe these new additions to our school wide comprehensive character program help o ensure a safe and secure learning environment.

"Be kind. Be responsible. Be the best that you can be. The choice is yours." Each day at Lincoln Elementary, students start their day with these words of wisdom. Student council members join the principal to conduct the daily announcements. After the student council leaders welcome the students to the day and highlight upcoming events, the principal shares with the students her words of wisdom.

Students begin the school year learning about the behaviors associated with being a caring, respectful and trustworthy student. Students sign up to be members of the Community of Caring Club and get involved right away with planning events for the school year. Some events involve only the Lincoln community, whereas others are cit, county or nation wide. Family, the 5th value, is also taught by way of the activities and events that are pt on to promote family time at school. Parent and community volunteers provide input and support for the Community of Caring event calendar at Lincoln.

On the last Friday of each month, the Lincoln students, staff and many parents meet out front of the school for a celebration. These "flag pole" celebrations allow students to be recognized for being "caught with character" by their teachers, support staff or the principal. All Lincoln staff are provided with character tickets and it is not uncommon that someone other than their classroom teacher recognizes a student. Everyone at Lincoln is looking for good character! Classrooms and individual students are also recognized for their attendance and reminded that being at school each day is an important responsibility that each Lincoln Ram must take seriously. We expect great academic progress of our students and recognize that in order to achieve this, each child must e ready to learn and able to recognize school as a safe environment full of caring people.

Crime and violence prevention is addressed for both Lincoln students and parents. Anti-bullying pledges are introduced by the principal during lunchtime, supported by the classroom teacher and signed by each student in every grade level. Officer Palomo, a respected member of the Sanger Police Department, leads a safety meeting for parents each year. Our cafeteria is packed and parents know they can get a great deal of information on keeping their child away from gangs and violence. Additionally, when students make bad choices, the teacher and administrator use the event to promote healthy student behaviors. Students are expected to write details pertaining to an event that occurs and to identify which of the 5 core values the student needs to think about. A discussion is held with both the administrator and parent about how the student can improve his/her choices. Morning announcements, weekly notes home and phone calls to parents are used to celebrate great decisions as well as to allow a child time to explain to his/her parent how the choices he made are affecting his time at school to learn. Kids understand that being kind, responsible and trustworthy is a choice they make each day.

The core ethical values of the "Community of Caring" program at Lincoln elementary are visible in the fairness, equity, respect and care shown by staff to students, students to other students, and students to staff. This respect doesn't end when the bell rings at 2:25. The same values and expectations are held with the leaders of Lincoln's after-school program. Lessons on caring, family, respect, trust and responsibility are included in the enrichment time and students continue to be held to the same standards of conduct as during the school day.

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Lone Star Elementary School (564 students; K-6)
Sanger Unified School District, Sanger, CA
559-268-8064
Principal: Dick Larimer

We became a "Community of Caring School" during the 2003 school year. Community of Caring is a character-building program founded by Eunice Kennedy Shriver. This program is centered on the five core values of Caring, Family, Respect, Responsibility, and Trust; all of which our staff and students exhibit on a daily basis. As a staff, we understand the importance of modeling these core values not only for ourselves, but also for students, families, and community members as well.

Our school continually sponsors events that value the importance of families being involved in our school's efforts to develop students of good character. Our big kick-off event to set the stage for the school year is an ice cream social that is free to all families in our school "community". The staff, teachers, and PTA all work together to provide an inclusive environment for all at the kick-off assembly. The purpose of the event is to develop our sense of community and to promote the idea that we all have a part in our children's development as citizens. We continue this idea of community throughout the year with activities such as family nights, community service projects, campus beautification, rallies, and assemblies.

We set high standards for our staff, students and community that goes beyond academic success, and standards which requires everyone be involved to set examples that can be observed and respected. We are a community of caring! With the loving guidance of dedicated staff, our children make cross-curricular connections and develop persistence and personal responsibility, which are the foundation of academic excellence. This is evidenced in the classrooms and throughout the school where the Community of Caring values are proudly displayed.

Each classroom has grade-level appropriate literature and videos that exemplify each of the five character traits. Each classroom teacher goes above and beyond the district-required activities to design and teach lessons that are appropriate for the needs of their individual classroom. Student Council activities are announced to all students during the morning announcements made by members of our student council. They also remind students of the core value of the month. Lone Star has been involved in several community service projects this year which include "Blankets for Soldiers" stationed in Afghanistan, "Coins for Canines" in which our students raised money to help pay for major oral surgery for a Sherriff canine and Holiday food baskets for Lone Star families in need.

Recently, a fire caused major damage to the second floor of a rural home occupied by several Lone Star family members. They were without electricity, phone service and had little means of support. The Lone Star principal notified the local Red Cross of their situation. Our PTA also helped support the family by providing them with, food, clothing and blankets. These actions by the school staff and PTA truly exemplify the core values we live by and model for students every day at Lone Star School.

Student safety and health is always a priority. In collaboration with our local law enforcement and parents, our school promotes a drug-free, safe, and clean environment. Lone Star models healthy choices by providing quality school sports programs for both boys and girls. Additionally members of our community frequently enjoy our playgrounds, courts for basketball and open fields for soccer, football and baseball in the evenings and on the weekends. Our campus is in the country and we have no vandalism or graffiti. We show support for the people that need our facilities and they show respect for the school site. It is part of our community team concept.

Other programs that also instill solid character elements are Second Step, Friendship Club and Special Friends. Students in these programs are given opportunities to work through situations prompting positive behavior and responsible decision-making. Students are provided safe environments to self evaluate and peer problem solve. The Lone Star 4-H is very active and allows students hands-on experience while making them more aware of their community surroundings. Activities such as Peach Blossom and Young Author's Fair allow students to mix with students from other local schools to highlight their talents.

All of the Lone Star staff has been trained and implement the Quit It Program (grades K-2) and the Olweus Bulling Prevention Program (grades 3-6th). The program focus is to provide all students with tools to prevent bullying at Lone Star, whether they are directly or indirectly involved. The curriculum includes role-playing activities and classroom meetings which develop skills students need to recognize bullying and the roles and responsibilities all students have in dealing with various situations. The anti-bullying curriculum is the foundation to the Lone Star Behavior Intervention program and has proven to be very effective in decreasing classroom and playground discipline.

Selected students in 4th-6th are trained in the Peer Mediation Program to learn skill to help the resolve minor conflicts between students during recess. Peer Mediators can be found at recess time, wearing their bright colored vests and clipboards modeling our Community of Caring values as they assist students in resolving minor conflicts.

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Madison Elementary School (460 students; K-5)
Sanger Unified School District, Sanger, CA
559-875-4539
Principal: Karl Kesterke

Activities designed to promote character development on the Madison site begin early in the school year. The first involves having our Back to School Night prior to the start of the school year. This ensures both an informed start to the year for our students, and immediately establishes the basis for behavioral and academic expectations as soon as the student steps foot on our campus. Once the year gets underway, our core values are communicated regularly via our weekly newsletter and through a series of PTA, School Site Council, and English Language Advisory Committee meetings, involving parents and staff invested in our success. Communication among our shareholders also plays a vital role in reinforcing our core values. Madison has developed a school site web page, which facilitates parent interaction. Each of our teachers also maintains a web page for family communication on an ongoing basis. Each semester, Madison hosts a "Principal's Forum" to promote open lines of communication and a spontaneous exchange of ideas. In addition, staff members have begun to give of their time to support our Mustang Connections. The goal of our Mustang Connections is to provide all students with additional opportunities to be become connected to the Madison experience. One activity that has proven to be very popular with selected students is the Principal's Academic Partnership, which provides an ongoing direct line of communication with the principal via journals. Students are nominated by their teacher, based on the belief that they could benefit from specific intervention and focused mentoring. They respond to a written prompt regarding their academic experience at Madison, and are then engaged in a written "conversation" directly with the principal, further enhancing their self-esteem and value. Other activities include athletics and Fun Club.

Student responsibility is also reinforced through our attendance incentive program. Each month, the names of six students (three primary, three intermediate) are drawn from a pool of all students with perfect attendance for the reporting period. The winners of this drawing receive a Wal Mart gift card. At the end of the year, all students with perfect attendance attend a reward luncheon at John's Incredible Pizza, to which they arrive in a chauffeured limousine. The positive reinforcement of attendance responsibility continues with our attendance banner program, wherein the class with the best overall attendance has their teacher's name posted on a large banner in the cafeteria.

Madison Elementary promotes core values, positive social interaction, and healthy decision-making through a variety of programs and practices. We begin each day with the morning bulletin announcements, which consist of pertinent information, student birthdays, and a reading from Project Wisdom, to reinforce the message that character counts. We have also participated in the Fresno County Health and Nutrition wellness program for the last 3 years. Each month, local farmers provide the "Harvest of the Month" to our students, further reinforcing good decision making as it relates to health and nutrition. A high percentage of students and parents participate in the annual Sanger Unified "Walk to School" event to promote a healthy lifestyle.

In addition to student health, providing a safe, clean environment that promotes student success is paramount to the Madison community. Our campus is monitored daily for cleanliness and potential hazards, and all adults, while assigned to supervision, wear fluorescent vests so that they are easily recognized.

Madison Elementary prides itself on being an integral part of our local community. The life lessons gained by our students while taking an active role in the civic arena will follow them throughout their educational careers and into adulthood. In an effort to expand our student's horizons beyond their own backyards, our school participates in a variety of community fundraisers including our Thanksgiving and holiday food drive for needy families and the "Pennies for Patients" campaign for children with leukemia. Our staff models civic minded behaviors regularly, recognizing that it is the combined efforts our community and staff that help to foster the positive social development of our children.

Peer mediators at recess now support our school-wide behavior plan by mediating student disputes during recess. Students have the opportunity to express themselves and work collaboratively to resolve their conflicts. Our peer mediators participated in rigorous training sessions and, in the spring, will have the opportunity to attend a peer mediator follow-up training at Fresno State. The college campus experience was exciting for the kids and the training further enhanced their desire to bring about positive change at Madison. Different peer mediator teams are scheduled throughout the week to support positive student interaction.

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Monte Vista Elementary School (520 students; K-6)
Porterville Unified School District, Porterville, CA
559-782-7350
Principal: Carol Woodley

A sense of family welcomes you to the Home of the Grizzlies. Our school marquee proudly displays our monthly pillar provided by the CHARACTER COUNTS! program. Our school is full of friendly chatter among children, friends, and staff. When you first enter the Monte Vista campus, you will immediately notice that our school promotes good character. The school marquee, numerous banners and the outside columns of our school buildings both promote the Six Pillars of Character upon which our character education goals are based: Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring and Citizenship. In order to ensure we are continually moving forward on our quest to provide the best character training for our students, we developed the following goals:

  • Student Awareness/Education
  • Parent Awareness/Education
  • Whole Staff Training/Development
  • Curriculum Integration
  • Physical School Environment

Student Awareness/Education: At Monte Vista, we feel that promoting and teaching the Six Pillars of Character sets the mood and expectations for student behavior for the entire school year, so we have chosen to begin the school year with a "CHARACTER COUNTS! Kick Off Week". At the assembly, students learn what good behavior looks like at Monte Vista School, and are recognized for being nominated as a CHARACTER COUNTS! Kid of Character by their teachers.

Each day when school starts, children are greeted for morning announcements via our television broadcasting system. Our student body president, vice president, class representatives, and principal, join together with a Grizzly-of-the-Month student who proudly leads the school in the morning Pledge of Allegiance. This team of cheerful voices announces the monthly pillar and encourages their fellow Grizzly students to act as a "People of Good Character." Quotes written by Monte Vista students are read each morning and focus on the monthly pillar. An additional weekly inspirational quote is presented to the students and a final reminder tells the students, "Remember, you come to school to learn! Have a great Grizzly day!"

At Monte Vista every Tuesday is CHARACTER COUNTS! Day. Staff and students are encouraged to wear their CHARACTER COUNTS! t-shirts to promote that good character is something they should strive for each and every day. All students have been provided a t-shirt via the Tulare County Office of Education's CHARACTER COUNTS! Office. Each classroom teacher filled out a CHARACTER COUNTS! nomination form and provided a description of what each child has done to become a student of good character.

Parent Awareness/Education: Monte Vista hosts quarterly parent meetings/workshops. It is the goal of these meetings/workshops to help parents become more effective in working with their children and in teaching core ethical values at home. Character education is combined with general parenting and health-related topics to provide parents with a "package" of information. The parent workshops work in conjunction with the Latino Literacy Club, Monte Vista Recycling Program, Student Council and Kinder Care Health Plan which is supported by the Family Healthcare Network. Twice each year, we recognize our parent volunteers at the parent workshops. They are presented with a certificate, pencil and a gold pillar pen as well as a CHARACTER COUNTS! t-shirt. We feel it is important to recognize the good character of parents who serve at our school as role models for our students.

Whole Staff Training/Development: Training an entire staff in character education is an ongoing process. This year Monte Vista has been able to provide off-site character education training opportunities to classified, administrative, and certificated personnel (including coaches). These trainings were provided through the Josephson Institute of Ethics. We have also conducted on site training in curriculum integration.

Curriculum Integration: Our teachers strive to be positive and uplifting. The student's job at Monte Vista is to come to school every day to learn. The teacher's job is to make sure that the students have a positive, comforting atmosphere in which to learn and socialize. Teachers post materials around the classroom to promote self-worth, good character, and positive attitudes. Our Character Counts! Pillars are posted in classrooms and are discussed whenever the occasion arises. Teachers strive to enhance each child's attitude towards their fellow student and themselves.

The Monte Vista teachers also take part in the field-testing of CHARACTER COUNTS! lessons created from the Tulare County CHARCTER COUTNS! Office. You might find a teacher analyzing the behavior and attitudes of a character in a literature selection, or discussing the choices of an historical figure during social studies instruction. It is our goal that teachers incorporate these opportunities to discuss the core ethical values in their everyday lessons.

Physical School Environment: The goal at Monte Vista is to have physical setting which promotes good character and instills pride in school grounds. Monte Vista has a recently painted roll-up door which was completed as a collaborative effort with the local high school. Our outdoor columns were painted by students and PTO members in the six pillar colors. The six pillar words were added by a local artist to these columns to reinforce and promote CHARACTER COUNTS!

At Monte Vista, we believe that learning must occur in a positive, disciplined, and secure learning environment. Students are guided by specific rules (be safe, be respectful, be responsible) and classroom expectations (we come to learn) that promote respect, cooperation, courtesy, and acceptance of others.

Each classroom on this campus has time dedicated to Book Buddies with another cross-age class each week. Students learn to work together and help each other read. Book Buddies provides a positive model for younger children and demonstrates that education, especially reading, is important.

Peer mediation is a program that the student council offers all students on campus if the student feels that they have a problem with another student on campus. Students encourage each other to have good character and to peacefully solve their problem through conflict resolution. Peer mediation is supported by all students, parents, and staff.

Monte Vista participates in a recycling program to encourage students to care for and protect their environment. Student council is in charge of collecting all plastics and cans and reporting this information to the "Trash for Cash" program. Money raised by this program goes directly to students. Students decide how this fund is spent such as student activities and school-wide assemblies.

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Oak Grove Elementary School (510 students; K-4)
Burton School District, Porterville, CA
559-781-8020
Principal: Treasure Weisenberger

Today, the Oak Grove community is rooted in its commitment to instilling core values within our students so good citizenship and responsible behavior is emulated in all situations. We believe as a public education entity, it is our ethical and moral responsibility to provide not only the best possible curricular education that is aligned with state and Federal guidelines, but to participate in the ongoing development of the whole child: body, mind, and spirit. In promoting and fostering good character among students and staff, we affirm our belief in maintaining the dignity of self and others. It is through this belief system we seek to fulfill our obligation to help develop citizens who are honest, caring and productive members of our society as a whole. Oak Grove adopted a new slogan this school year. Oak Grove Elementary School: Learners Today, Leaders Tomorrow - A Galaxy of Possibilities. We believe with teaching, modeling, and guiding students to a better tomorrow, they truly have a galaxy of possibilities before them.

Each month, our school focuses on a particular pillar of character and holds an awards assembly in which two students from each class, pre-school through fourth grade, receive a certificate and a medal provided by our school principal, vice principal, and PTA members.

In addition, Oak Grove has implemented the Olweus Bullying Prevention program. This program is designed to prevent and reduce bullying incidents. Students learn about the definition of bullying, how to respond to bullying situations and to share information with adults.

...we believe that character education is an on-going process in which diligence and consistency is vital. Developing character is something one can achieve and continue to grow and improve throughout one's lifetime. It is a never-ending refinement of excellence. In part, we monitor our success by the observable increase in student acceptance and respect of others and the observable decrease in bullying incidents and office behavior referrals.

In order to support classroom curriculum that addresses the Character Counts attributes, books in both the fiction and non-fiction genres are provided in the library and readily accessible for classroom use. Videos that address values and good decision-making skills are also available for checkout in the school library. Teachers are supplied with materials that include ideas for journal writing, quick writes, activities that connect to the core curriculum, as well as books for read-alouds and independent reading that addresses the pillar for each month. Character Counts trait posters are displayed in the cafeteria and group photos of students selected to represent each trait are displayed for all to see.

Students are constantly reminded by both classroom teachers and site administrators to demonstrate good character and to make good choices. We encourage students to follow the six pillars of character during daily lessons and school wide assemblies. Students have the opportunity to earn various rewards, such as recognition at a spirit assembly or Character Counts assembly, lunch with the principal for Principal's Pizza, perfect attendance pencils, etc.

In partnership with our PTA, our students participate in service through food drives, weekly recycling, fundraisers for field trips for all Oak Grove students, supplies for our local women's crisis center, and a yearly walk-a-thon for school equipment that benefits all students on campus. Students also bring in "Box tops for Education" in order to create funds for assemblies and character curriculum. Our annual "Pennies for Patients" drive will be kicking off next month where students bring pennies to school and our total sum collected is donated to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Through these responsibilities, students are provided opportunities to be role models and leaders where they can learn a sense of civic pride and a deep sense of community at Oak Grove School.

In the last two years, Oak Grove has continued to strive toward character education excellence. We have continued to grow and develop our understanding and implementation of the Character Counts and Olweus Bullying Prevention program curriculum. In addition, we continue to create opportunities to tie students, parents, and the local community to our school.

The implementation of "Two O'Clock Treats for Parents" which is held in our school library the first Friday of each month, is another opportunity for parents to share their vision for not only character education at Oak Grove, but to participate and share their thoughts and ideas about our students, school, and community in a friendly, welcoming environment.

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John J. Pershing Elementary School (816 students; K-6)
Madera Unified School District, Madera, CA
559-664-9741
Principal: Sandon Schwartz

The mission of John J. Pershing Elementary School is to provide an exemplary education in a secure, positive and challenging environment fostered by a cooperative effort between school, community and home. Our students will become responsible life-long learners and productive members of society through a commitment to being the best they can be in mind, body and spirit.

Less than three years ago, when Pershing first opened, the Leadership Team created these statements, and our entire staff has chosen to hold tightly to them. Because of these strongly held beliefs, we have chosen to spend a tremendous amount of time and energy in creating our very own Character Education program at Pershing Elementary School. We truly believe this to be the backbone to all that we do here at our school.

Within our character education program our desire is for students of Pershing to learn the true meaning of character. We have chosen to teach a different character trait each month, which also includes a coordinating color that is easily identifiable for all of the related materials involved with that month's trait. Even our monthly take-home calendar is coordinated to match our monthly materials, and prominently displays the trait of the month. Based on the chosen character trait, we also carefully decide on a children's picture book to be read aloud in each classroom (preschool – 6th grade). We do our best to find a piece of literature that both entertains and persuades our students regarding the importance of personifying that particular trait.

Due to our deep-seated desire to create students of character at Pershing Elementary School, we choose to reward our students who exemplify these character traits in fun and exciting ways. Teachers are allowed to choose one, two or three students each month, based on classroom size (i.e., 1-2 students for grades K-3; 2-3 students for grades 4-6). The chosen students receive a Character Certificate, which is awarded in front of their friends and family at each of our Quarterly Awards Assemblies.

We also include preschool classes in our program, but they choose to have their own student recognition and activities within their classroom, since they are technically a separate entity—just sharing our campus. We read the monthly stories to them and go over the character concepts, but mostly allow the teachers to handle the program as they see fit for the needs of their little ones during the a.m. and p.m. classes. We are starting to see the benefits of running a consistent character education program, especially at the preschool and primary levels. As these students filter up through our grade levels, we expect to see more and more consistent behavior, as our students will begin to truly "live" the messages we are portraying as a consistent part of their daily lives.

We are able to measure the success of our program in various ways. We have noticed a change in the behavior of our overall student body, as well as a decline in the number of referrals sent to the office. Our sports teams have enjoyed compliments from opposing teams and coaches regarding our student-athletes' behavior, positive attitude, and sportsmanship of our athletes. Best of all, we have received accolades from our middle school, of which we are a feeder school. They consistently inform us that our feeder students (6th grade going to 7th grade) are very well behaved, well-mannered students.

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James K. Polk Elementary School (692 students; K-6)
Central Unified School District, Fresno, CA
559-274-9780
Principal: Karen Garlick

In naming the school after the 11th President, Kames Knox Polk, we hoped to tap into the American spirit and use our rich history to teach the core ethical values of our pioneering ancestors; ethical values that have made our country great! Our school is themed on the westward movement and California history, and we take every opportunity to directly teach the character traits embedded in the American West; from the Spanish and Mexican culture and values inherent in California and the Southwest, to the heroism present on the frontier, and the risk-taking of President Polk.

In order to lay a strong foundation upon which to build our school, we began a process in the summer of 2004 which included all stakeholders. These stakeholders met and developed a mission statement that embodied the vision of this new school honed from the passion of people setting out together to develop a school that would meet the needs of every one of its students. We researched the concept of a professional learning community developed by Rick DuFour and let his work guide us in developing our mission statement. We were also influenced by the intense desire to create a school that would serve the needs of the students, not only academically, but develop in our students, leadership skills, a strong character, and civic responsibility.

In order to live our mission statement, Polk Elementary set about to establish a forward-thinking relationship with our Special Education Department. We implemented full inclusion at our school and currently include SDC students in grades 1-6 in our regular education classes with support from the SDC staff. The benefits from full inclusion for our students, both regular education and SDC are truly amazing. A greater awareness has developed for the entire Polk community as we demonstrate daily that we all learn from each other, and that we all have positive contributions to make.

Polk's core ethical values are clearly set forth from the very beginning of the school year and articulated to students, parents, staff, and the school community at Back to School Night during the assembly for parents, at the Polk Parent Academies using the Parenting partners curriculum based on the 40 Developmental Assets, and at our Kinder registration and orientation for parents. School wide discipline assemblies are held during the first week of school for every class in order to review our positive discipline system.

Our students are taught to fail-forward when they make a mistake. Therefore, our philosophy of discipline is not punitive, but instead an opportunity for our students to learn. This discipline policy is published in our Parent-Student Handbook and in our Staff handbook as well. At the end of each school year, our staff meets to review these policies and make changes as needed.

Progress toward our character education goals are measured by several surveys. Each year we survey our parent community, our teachers, and our students. Results of these surveys indicate a school where students feel safe to be here. There is a good relationship between students and staff. Ninety-two percent of our parents responded that Polk is the best school for students and parents in the district.

In addition to providing much needed help to the school community such as folding programs and decorating for events, the students spearheaded the annual Holiday Joy canned food drive and coat collection, wrote letters and sent gifts to our servicemen in Iraq for Christmas, and participate in the annual Kids Day fund-raiser for Children's Hospital of Central California. ...two of our teachers...proposed to our district to hold a district-wide Hug-O-Gram for $1.00 with proceeds to benefit the Haitian relief effort.

Polk has been very interested in the CSUF Peer Mediation Program under the leadership of Dr. Pamela Lane-Garon. This year the program is again being implemented at Polk in grades 4-6. Students from Fresno State come to our campus weekly to facilitate and role-model for our peer mediators.

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Quail Lake Environmental Charter School (548 students; K-8)
Sanger Unified School District, Clovis, CA
559-292-1273
Principal: Brad Huebert

QL takes pride in giving out the "Block QL" award to any and all students that are well-rounded and demonstrate a philosophy of being their best in "Mind, Body, and Spirit" at all times. Our school is extremely high performing, but teachers and students know that academics are not the only ingredient to make them productive citizens later in life. They must become life-long learners, mentally and physically. Respect between students and staff is reflected in school policies and behavioral expectations at QL. Student behavior expectations are first articulated when students enroll. The principal meets with every student and their family prior to enrolling. The Student/Parent Compact is reviewed which includes expected academic behavior and relationships with fellow students, staff, and community members. All students and parents must sign the Compact Agreement as part of the entrance requirements. The Compact Agreement clearly lays out expected behaviors for the student, the parents, and the school. It is a "contract" that is signed off by all viable stakeholders responsible for every child's education, including the student themselves. Students are encouraged to take an active role in their own learning. Every student at QL "re-signs" the compact at the beginning of each school year to remind and reinforce the expectations of everyone involved.

QL implements a 1st-8th Personal Responsibility Program. Students are expected to behave properly at all times, complete all schoolwork as assigned, and earn a "reward activity," such as roller-skating or bowling. Students allowed to participate in the reward activity are those that exhibit appropriate character, behavior, and effort throughout the trimester as measured by classroom accountability reports. QL believes students should be rewarded not for doing what is expected of them, but for doing it well. Expectations and rigor are high at QL and students push themselves to succeed. While QL encourage high academic standards, it also clearly promotes specific moral and behavioral guidelines for its students. This is evidenced through the Character Education and Personal Responsibility (PR) Programs.

Each student is valued and appreciated. One of the many programs that make QL distinguished is the "Falcon Buddy" Program. This program focuses attention to those that need it and facilitates each student's path to success. As an example, at one of our staff meetings, all teachers were asked to make a list of any and all students in the grade level that could use some guidance, much like the "Big Brother/Sister" concept. Each team created a list with an explanation of what issues each child might benefit from if addressed. The list included students from single-parent homes, foster students, those with parents in Iraq, those exposed to traumatic situations, as well as those with a lack of motivation or defiant attitudes, and so on. On the referral sheet, the directions read as follows: "As teachers, we have many students that have difficulties at home, at school, or in social settings. We would love to reach them all and assist them with good choices. Students that would benefit greatly from an adult's input and attention are: ___" Each child was considered and valued for their individual needs. After the lists were composed, every staff member in the school was assigned three students to become their "Falcon Buddy" for the remainder of the year. This included the principal, the secretaries, the custodian, every teacher on staff, the lunch ladies... everyone! Each adult was given a "contract" that had their three assigned students listed on it and the following statement of agreement preceded their signature: "I agree to be a positive influence in the following students' lives. I promise not to critique or pass judgment when situations arise. I also promise to "make contact" with each of these students once a week and will make sure it is done in a positive manner." The directions on how to be a Falcon Buddy were simple: be a positive role model, let your student buddy know they are valued as a member of this school, and that the choices they make are important. The Falcon Buddy Program is just another way QL ensures students stay connected to the school, create a culture of acceptance, and make sure nobody gets left behind.

One unique model of QL is its "no cut" policy for sports. Rather than field just one team, teachers coach the "practice team" as adjunct duties to make sure that ALL students who wish to participate are given the chance to do so. This policy also extends to our student with a desire for civic education. All 4th-8th-grade students who want to participate in service to our school and community are invited to be part of the Service Learning Club. Rather than exclude an individual with the desire to serve, we include everyone who wants to participate. Our Service Learning Club made over 100 "pine cone turkeys" and delivered them to the Sanger Convalescent Home for Thanksgiving. They plan one service-learning project every month. These include knitting stocking hats for the homeless, care packages to Iraq, and so on. We are proud that our service club is a strong group of individuals working on the skills that will make them responsible and productive citizens in the community.

In 2002, a group of parents organized a chess club on campus, and have ever since fielded a competitive team. Due to parent volunteers, the club now teaches phrases in Spanish, Russian, German, Armenian, and continues to grow. A parent with an artistic touch may be seen spending hours painting and decorating murals in our MPR for drama productions and winter programs. These are just a few examples of how parents offer their time, talents and treasures for the benefit of QL.

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Ronald Reagan Elementary School (327 students; K-5)
Sanger Unified School District, Sanger, CA
559-875-5098
Principal: John Hannigan

Reagan Elementary opened its doors for the first time as a brand new Sanger elementary school during the 2007/2008 school year, and simultaneously opened as a strong "Community of Caring" school. The Community of Caring program, sponsored by the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation, was originally implemented as part of a grant award that targeted all elementary schools and our district's middle school. The program focuses on the five core values of Caring, Family, Respect, Trust and Responsibility, and integrates these values throughout the core curriculum and alongside school-wide support programs.

There are several components to the Reagan Community of Caring program that separate it from other similar programs and make it a valid character education program. The components are as follows: values across the curriculum, support for staff, student forums, family and community involvement, and service learning, all of which are driven by the coordinating committee's action plan and site facilitator.

Each classroom displays a Community of Caring Chart, which displays the students who have demonstrated each of the five values for each trimester. Monthly award assemblies and Trimester award assemblies are a time where reading, math, and Community of Caring awards are given recognizing outstanding character and academic achievements of our students. Students have the opportunity to earn a movie reward during lunch, an ice cream party, and a gold medallion for demonstrating the five values throughout each trimester. Each trimester, the "Crystal Award" is awarded to the student who demonstrates exceptional character, excels academically, and encompasses all five Community of Caring core values.

This year, we have implemented the Olweus Anti-Bullying Program. It was launched early in the school year with an evening kick-off rally including staff, parents, and students. Anti-bullying rules have been clearly articulated and are posted throughout the Reagan campus. We also followed up with a school-wide kick-off rally during the school day where peer mediators role-played scenarios to teach students how to include others and prevent bullying. Our peer mediation program is a team of students who work with other students to solve

Teachers have often given feedback as to the ease with which they are able to integrate a particular value into a story or class literature. For example, one popular story is The Empty Pot by Demi. After reading this book each teacher discusses its meaning and the importance of how the character trait of honesty exhibited in the book relates to our Community of Caring Values.

The staff at Reagan uses several activities to promote positive social development, group cohesion, caring and respect for others. We have a Clean Campus Responsibility Program where classrooms take turns being responsible ensuring that our campus is kept clean and beautiful. Classrooms and students take an active role in this responsibility, and take their responsibility quite seriously. Good News Club, which meets every Monday, gives students an opportunity to work together and strengthen positive behaviors and making good choices.

Our school-wide discipline policies reinforce that each student must treat one another with dignity and respect. Our vision which includes "Taking responsibility for the academic and personal achievement of all students" is the backbone of our school wide community of caring efforts.

Each month our school joins with the school district in focusing on a theme that contributes to the needs of our Sanger Community. We jump-started our school year with our Back-to-School Backpack and School Supplies Collection. During our Happy Feet collection month we gathered socks and shoes for needy students. In November, our caring Reagan community held a very successful food drive in which we provided four needy families the supplies for a Thanksgiving meal: two huge boxes of food with a frozen turkey for each family. We had such a positive response from the community, we were able to sponsor an additional family in need from another school in our district with a high percentage of poverty.

In our annual December tradition, we adopted three needy families for our Caring Hands Christmas Tree in which "hands" with "wishes" of family members were displayed. Reagan students, parents, and staff chose "hands" and bought Christmas gifts for 33 needy family members. A total of 66 gifts were given to make the holidays brighter for those families.

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Red Bank Elementary School (706 students; K-6)
Clovis Unified School District, Clovis, CA
559-327-7800
Principal: Alison Johns

The philosophy that all students may become productive, contributing members of society is one that is adhered to by the Red Bank team through Clovis Unified School District's Character Counts program and implementation of an interactive leadership system. This concept and expectation is continually and consistently promoted at Red Bank through verbal and written communication, awards presentations, teachers, staff and administrative role models and an extensive co-curricular program. The goals for Red Bank Elementary School in Character Education are to promote character and educate students in order to help mold them into caring, contributing members of society that hold the well being of their community as a high priority. Core ethical values are defined in terms of behaviors that can be observed through the Six Pillars of Character (Character Counts!): Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring and Citizenship. These character traits can be observed in the classrooms through student interactions with their teachers and their peers.

Additionally, character development activities include multi-cultural promotion and awareness through Red Bank's PAWS (Promoting Awareness Within our School) Committees, both a parent and school group are active within our school. PAWS activities include such things as monthly meetings, student lunch meetings and a school wide multi-cultural food faire.

Embedded in the Red Bank Elementary School curriculum is a focus on the significance of reasoned oral and ethical choices which promote fairness, equity, caring and respect for others. This is evident in daily lessons and curriculum in each classroom. Students learn to evaluate situations and make positive and constructive decisions as they examine events. A greater understanding and tolerance of student diversity is manifested throughout the school language arts, writing, and social science curriculum. The integration of character education with district and California State Standards is a fun combination at Red Bank.

A clean, safe, secure learning environment is provided for all students at Red Bank. This is ensured through monthly safety drills, clean campus inspections and consistent enforcement of Zero Tolerance discipline. Students are reminded of behavior expectations and positive character traits at all school assemblies and rallies as well as within their classroom setting. Classroom teachers and staff members are a daily model of the Character Counts Pillars of Character through their own actions and expectations of fairness, caring and respect for others.

Positive social development and group cohesion is fostered through partnerships across grade levels in support of the school mission: Red Bank Elementary is committed to teach reading comprehension, to meet the needs of every student. Reading buddies meet weekly providing students with the opportunity to work on social as well as core academic skills.

Red Bank Elementary School provides students the opportunities for moral action and character development through total curriculum integration of character education. Red Bank Elementary promotes pro-social competencies and behaviors by providing students opportunities to be involved in community service efforts with such activities as: Adopting soldiers in Iraq and writing them letters as well as filling shoe boxes with items such as razors, beef jerky, soap, gum, candy, shaving cream and other items from home. These shoeboxes are then shipped to service men and women in Iraq.

Annually, Red Bank staff and students participate in the Fresno Bee sponsored Kid's Day. Staff members start selling papers at 6:45 in the morning and sell at corners around the Red Bank community until the school day starts. Our third grade classes organize a community service project that raises funds for the Burn Foundation.

Another community service project organized by a sixth grade class is Pennies for Scholarship. This community service project collects pennies during the school year to provide a Clovis High School student, who is a former Red Bank student, with a scholarship. A school-wide community service project benefits the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society – Pennies for Patients. Each classroom had a box to collect coins in. The collection last approximately one month. Red Bank teachers, staff, administration, students and community help to raise funds and support the American Cancer Society Clovis Relay For Life. The Relay raises money for the American Cancer Society for community awareness, research and patient outreach.

A final example of community service/out reach efforts is the partnership Red Bank holds with the Clovis High Leadership Classes. Leadership students attend Red Bank rallies to promote Clovis High School spirit by teaching Red Bank students the Clovis High spell-out and distributing Clovis High spirit items such as: sport bottles, T-shirts, pom-poms, stadium seat cushions and plastic cups. Red Bank Student Council and PAWS students attend a Clovis High rally and a Mosaic Assembly during the year in order to build community between the schools.

Since last receiving this award in April 2008, Red Bank Elementary School has continued to implemented a Character Development Program; however, the strength in the overall school value and character education is total curriculum integration. The entire mission and goals of the school is to create an embodiment of the principle that it is the responsibility of the school to establish an educational direction that focuses on the development of positive character and values. The approach to character development at Red Bank Elementary School involves the ambiance created by the total of all programs, activities, and interactions with students.

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Sanger Academy Charter School (K-8; 542 students)
Sanger Unified School District, Sanger, CA.
559-875-5562
Principal: Ken Garcia

Sanger Academy Charter School's (SACS) charter is based on the philosophy of educating the whole child by promoting core values of honesty, integrity, trust, and the pursuit of academic excellence. As establishing a Community of Caring is important to Sanger Unified School District and members of the community, the SACS staff has worked to integrate character education into their academic curriculum as well as athletic and co-curricular activities.

Visitors can observe the SACS staff actively integrating character values into our daily practices. Community of Caring and Project Wisdom are programs utilized to specifically and intentionally define values and behaviors and outline observable behaviors for students. Also, the weekly newsletter, school website, and posters and banners located around the campus display our Olweus anti-bullying rules. Several projects highlight the positive character and community mindedness of SACS' students. Some examples completed recently were: a donation of clothing to a local doctor who distributes them to those in need, a canned food drive to benefit families in the local community, for which we partnered with the Sanger Rotary; and "Pennies for Patients" to raise money for cancer patients. Most recently, the SACS student council has decided to organize the "Hearts for Haiti" Valentine dance, with the proceeds being donated to relief organizations that support the earthquake victims.

In addition, SACS' students visit and perform at the local convalescent hospital and support the Central California Blood Center through local activities. Fresno County Office of Education operates a site for the students with severe handicaps on the campus of SACS and our students play an integral role in the mainstreaming and social interaction of these peers. Students at SACS are respectful, committed, and civic minded. These traits are not only coveted, but also awarded at SACS.

Classrooms and students participate in service learning projects as well as fundraisers for charities throughout the year. The Community of Caring core values are integral at SACS and visible throughout the city of Sanger. SACS promotes these values through visual reminders such as postings in classrooms, murals in hallways, and information and photographs on the cafeteria's Community of Caring board.

Project Wisdom is utilized daily at SACS, and consists of the principal using a scripted morning announcement to teach key values through the words of significant historical figures. Each morning the principal reads a historical account of a significant figure that exemplifies a chosen character trait. These readings are used to stimulate thought and foster communication about the kind of citizens SACS' students are expected to be.

When walking onto SACS campus, the feeling is one of professionalism, structure, and a feeling of safety. Classes are orderly and focused on academic state standards. Teachers are professionally dressed, friendly, and welcoming. Students are uniformly dressed, polite, and happy. Parents are welcomed and feel comfortable on campus. SACS is clean and well maintained. Murals representing Community of Caring values and SACS logos are visible throughout the campus. Students proudly wear SACS logos on clothing and backpacks. There is a sense of pride among students and staff. Awards are prominently displayed in the office, and banners hang from aloft in the cafeteria proclaiming SACS' rich history of achievement.

Our Olweus "no bullying policy" is in place ensuring an atmosphere of respect for self and others. Parents were invited to a "kick-off" night, where the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program was explained to parents and the need for parental support of the program was addressed. All SACS staff has participated in staff development and meetings to plan procedures and topics for Olweus class meetings that are held every other week in all classrooms. The principal works with teachers and students on presentations of literature, personal anecdotes, and good decision making to eliminate bullying and ensure that students feel comfortable in the learning environment. Respect and empathy are highly coveted personal qualities at SACS.

Physical Education (PE) is a part of daily life as well as a subject taught at SACS. Our campus is ahead of the health guidelines, having eliminated sugary snacks and soda from vending machines. "Los Tenis" is a physical education program developed by the SACS physical education teacher as a fun way to promote a healthy lifestyle and show that physical fitness is a way of life. Through the club, students come to school 40 minutes early for jump rope, walking, and friendship.

Professionalism is an expectation at SACS. Teachers are expected to approach their position with respect and students are expected to participate fully in their education. The grounds at SACS are always clean and is inviting to students, community members, and staff. Graffiti is not tolerated and removal is a top priority. The principal and staff members, leading by example, promptly remove trash and litter. All members of the SACS family embrace a sense of ownership and responsibility.

Each trimester, SACS hosts awards with the SAC Bear (top student) Award, Math Award, Reading Award, and Writing Award for each classroom. In addition, students receive Honor Roll Awards and Principal's Honor Roll Awards for report card results. Principal's Honor Roll Award students are further recognized with a formal breakfast celebration with their parents and SACS staff. ACE (Academy Character and Excellence) is a coveted award which is given only twice a year to students who exemplify the character and hard work that is promoted school wide. SACS is committed to fostering a sense of belonging and tradition among students.

The Peer Mediation Program is another student organization where students are trained in conflict management and mediation. Peer Mediators receive training in the specific skills needed to solve problems and learn how to work with fellow students who are engaged in a dispute. Teachers coordinate both programs as an adjunct duty.

Diversity is fostered and celebrated at SACS. During Music and Art instruction students learn the cultural implications of Art and Music through projects such as "El Dia de los Muertos." In preparation for "El Dia de los Muertos," art students create lifelike paper mache´ calacas dolls with death masks to display in the cafeteria, the art studio, and on campus. They eat pan dulce, special sweet bread made to commemorate the day, and learn about the Mexican culture. SACS' artists display work throughout the community, and our musicians perform in various venues.

Numerous participatory activities supporting the academic program are offered. Students learn teamwork, respect, and perseverance. All students at SACS are expected to participate in at least one activity either during the school day, or before or after school. This level of participation and representation is due to the support of both teachers and parents who devote their time to co-curricular programs, as well as to the students who do the work to be successful. Annually, SACS teachers compete in Mud Volleyball to support the March of Dimes charity, and SACS hosts blood drives with the Central California Blood Bank. Last year, SACS staff participated in the local "Race for the Cure" breast cancer walk. As further evidence of the commitment to the community and service, SACS' principal is a member of the Sanger Rotary Club. Sanger Rotary works in conjunction with SACS to enhance student learning, and recently made a significant donation of dictionaries to SACS students. Local UPS employees have adopted SACS as a partner school and provided supervision and resources for the Red Ribbon Festival, and are currently working with SACS administration on acquiring funds to improve school facilities.

In addition, SACS offers numerous co-curricular activities to inspire students in the practical application of what they learn: History Day, Science Fair, PTA Reflections, Science Olympiad, the JASON Project, Math-a-Thon, Los Tenis, Peach Blossom, Honor Band, Chess Club, Art Club, Spelling Bee, Talent Show, Young Author's Faire and Student Government are available for student participation. PTA Reflections participation is very high, with 305 participants in 2009 competing in Art, Music Composition, Photography, Video, and Literature. Ongoing co-curricular programs also supporting classroom instruction include Jog-a-Thon and Reading Incentives.

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Sierra View Elementary School (338 students; K-6)
Golden Valley Unified School District, Madera, CA
559-645-1122
Principal: Scott Tefft

At Sierra View the culture of Character and enthusiasm permeates all we do and supports the school wide vision of "Making the World a Better Place One Child at a Time." In line with the district-adopted CHARACTER COUNTS program, the staff and students of Sierra View Elementary School are dedicated to recognizing and promoting the character traits of Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring, and Citizenship.

Kindergarten students are treated to a Character Counts Awards assembly each Wednesday where students having displayed Sierra View core values are enthusiastically recognized before their family and peers! During the assembly a Character Counts kindness drawing is completed and one child from each class earns a special pencil. Kindergarten also makes a "Character Counts in Kindergarten" book each year. Kindergarten students discuss each core value in depth and write about what they do that is fair, trustworthy, responsible, etc. These are shared with parents at Open House. Ultimately, all of our Kindergarten students have a clear understanding of what it means to be responsible, respectful, etc., when they move on to first grade!

Sierra View also has weekly Character Counts electives each Friday. The electives include instruction in Ceramics/Pottery, Music, Science, Art, Leather Working, Puppetry, and Fossils. Students earn this privilege by exemplifying all the pillars of Character by turning in all homework on time, getting to school each day on time, and by receiving no behavior referrals or office referrals during the week.

Under the guidance of a dedicated, caring staff, Sierra View students experience daily that goals are achievable through proper preparation and good character. Sierra View's Goals for this program include increasing student academic achievement, decreasing the number of referrals and suspensions, improving attendance, and decreasing the number of students at risk for retention. These goals are monitored closely to ascertain whether or not these school-wide goals are being met in the area of character education and show us that we have made progress and are achieving our goals. These goals were established by way of a collaborative effort including teachers, students, parents, and the principal. They were defined based on areas of need that existed at Sierra View. To date the data, including state API results, attendance numbers, and numbers of referrals and suspensions suggest that the program is very successful. Informal data including student and parent feedback shows us that the program is highly successful.

Respect for everyone is emphasized daily starting with morning announcements where students are encouraged to "make the world a better place with their positive choices" and "do what's right not because it's convenient or popular but because it's the right thing to do." Each morning the site principal utilizes readings from Character Building Day by Day, Making Every Day Count, and Project Wisdom. Every classroom has a poster stating Ridicule Free Zone. Teachers greet children at the door each morning, consistently use positive/proactive reinforcement, and the principal learns all students' names which send the message that all kids are valued and appreciated. Each week teachers utilize the 2nd Step Anti-Bullying Curriculum to proactively define bullying, define loving behavioral expectations, and communicate that bullying will not be tolerated. Sierra View is indeed a ridicule free zone! Student discipline is handled consistently throughout the school and minimal disruptions are visible on the school campus.

Sierra View's Student Council has helped coordinate community events on site such as Toys for Tots, collection of significant amounts of money for emergency situations, Coats for Kids, and food drives. Character Bucks which can be spent in the Character Counts Store each Friday morning, Character Tickets which are handed out daily, Random Acts of Character drawings which are held weekly for students caught in the act of positive Character, Weekly and Trimester Character Awards, Character Counts Rallies, and Character Counts electives are all proactive efforts to embed Character Counts core values into our Sierra View culture.

Everywhere you go on campus, you see how our Sierra View family works together to promote its nurturing culture. Our library welcomes everyone to embrace the diversity of our community, inviting all to come and explore its offerings. The technology lab is decorated to reflect how "Technology brings the world to our fingertips." Community members, Kiwanis, and the SVPC have planted numerous trees, have purchased and installed play structures, have laid sod, planted grass, donated flowers and benches all in an effort to beautify our campus so our wonderful community can enjoy it's park-like setting. All of these touches create a community that reflects the benefits of working together to support learning for all children in an effort to Make the World a Better Place Once Child at a Time.

Concerted efforts are made to give all Sierra View students a sense of belonging, school pride, and self-worth. Student diversity is celebrated and is an asset. Classroom curricula, in addition to the Character Counts curriculum, encompass disability awareness and multicultural diversity as showcased by our Countries Around the World event, Martin Luther King Week activities, and how we treat each other on a daily basis. Additionally, Sierra View's Psychologist has Student Assistance training and is available to assist students with special problems.

The classroom is the ideal setting for students to learn the intrinsic curriculum necessary to become positive members of society. Some examples of lessons that incorporate core values include:

  1. Student Council elections and speeches to familiarize students with the democratic process
  2. Moral decisions and character evaluation are strong components of the literary selections and writing assignments. Analysis of novels and short stories often include character studies and the assessment of ethical choices that impact the theme of the literature. Students are encouraged to relate the lessons being studied to their own life experiences. Examples include Holes, Hatchet, Tuck Everlasting, The Outsiders, Where the Red Fern Grows.

Since receiving the prestigious Bonner Virtues and Character Recognition Award in 2008, Sierra View has made some key minor changes and has some exciting updates. Immediately following Sierra View receiving this award, our school was honored with the California Distinguished School Award. Sierra View had to live, learn, grow, and improve a great deal in order to become eligible for and then earn this award. A key component of Sierra View's success in recent years both behaviorally and academically is its comprehensive Character Education Program. We are also excited to mention our Character Education Program won the 2008 CSBA Golden Bell Award. Character Education is something we are passionate about at Sierra View and these awards are affirming and encouraging.

One key change we have made to our Character Education Program is adding the teaching of the 2nd Step Anti-Bullying Curriculum. This is another proactive effort to perpetuate our Ridicule Free Zone culture at Sierra View. Each week teachers use the 2nd Step Anti-Bullying Curriculum to teach kids what bullying is, how to deal with it, and to send a clear message that bullying is not an option at Sierra View.

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Sundale Elementary School
Sundale School District, Tulare CA
559-688-7451
Principal: Cindy Gist

Sundale is a single school district located in the southern portion of the San Joaquin Valley. The school is located five miles from the city of Tulare and serves a rural population of K-8th grade students. The total attendance area covers approximately 24 square miles. The community is largely a farming and dairy community.

As part of the CHARACTER COUNTS! Framework, the Six Pillars of Character have defined Sundale School's character education goals to center around: Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring and Citizenship. These character education goals include:

  • Parent Education/Awareness
  • Whole Staff Training/Development
  • Curriculum Integration
  • Student Leadership/Recognition
  • School Environment

While it is important to conduct awards assemblies, hang good character posters and welcome guests to your campus as part of your character education goals, the process is not complete or effective unless monitoring and measurement take place. Sundale takes pride in the ability to propose a plan to further good character, and then be honest enough to put the efforts to the test. Current measurement of such efforts is provided by the participation in the Federal Partnership in Character Education Program through the Tulare County Office of Education. As a result, an implementation plan is in place that monitors attendance of trainings, field-testing of student curriculum products, collection of student samples, parent feedback, student recognitions, discipline rates, and API scores. Measurement includes pre and post surveys, focus group interviews, and school-based behavior and academic records. Focus areas for the remainder of the year include conducting a students' leadership camp where select student leaders on campus receive direct CHARACTER COUNTS! Training and learn how to apply the Six Pillars of Character as leaders at Sundale School.

As part of the current character education implementation plan the following activities are evident on campus and are aligned with goals described above:

  • Parent Education/Awareness (Teach/Enforce): Our PTA calendar offers parent awareness trainings for CHARACTER COUNTS! and the Six Pillars of Character. Other character education related topics scheduled include; wellness and nutrition, healthy choices, and child development information. All sessions provide free babysitting and lunch.
  • Whole Staff Training/Development (Teach): Sundale participates in trainings both on and off campus. On campus sessions included the curriculum alignment workshop, certificated whole staff awareness training, classified awareness training. In-depth off campus training sessions included the three day "Train the Trainer" seminar, The Principal's Institute, and Pursuing Victory with Honor.
  • Curriculum Integration (Enforce): Curriculum integration is evidenced through various resources at Sundale School. The CHARACTER COUNTS! Committee presents a lesson each month which aligns with the pillar focus for all staff to utilize. These lessons have been collected and are now included in the library resource materials. As CHARACTER COUNTS! resources are aligned with the California Content Standards via the Tulare County Office of Education, teachers on campus field test the products with their students and provide feedback for final production.
  • Student Leadership/Recognition (Advocate): Monthly student recognitions are now aligned with our Pillar of the Month focus. In addition, Kudos, a recognition for daily good deeds from students or staff, are appreciated during morning announcements. Another form of affirmation occurs as teachers observe students throughout the month. Teachers write a Shining Star moment about one of their students and submit the good character effort to the Principal. The Principal then in turn contacts the parents with good news about their Shining Star Student. These students become role models for their peers and leaders on the Mustang campus.
  • School Environment (Enforce): A commitment to moral integrity and academic excellence requires a sound environment to learn and grow. Sundale School provides this environment through a thorough discipline plan that utilizes the Six Pillar common language.

Ensuring a secure, safe and caring learning environment involves all staff, students and parents of the Sundale School community. Modeling the pillar of citizenship is evident when you see that the classrooms are clean, orderly and provide a safe learning environment reflective of student work and current curriculum. The school grounds are kept clean and well maintained for student play, recreation, and athletic activities. Our school community takes pride in our well-maintained buildings and landscaping. The students, staff, and parents are committed to keeping our campus clean and safe through respecting the facilities, cooperating with others and doing their part to improve the livelihood at Sundale School.

Contributions to the school: Parents, school board members, staff and students work long hours to make their campus a better learning environment. From family work days on the weekends with the school board hosting the dinner, to the farm show food booth fundraiser for both the 8th grade trip and the fine arts department, these activities work to help make Sundale what it is. In addition our Dad's Club hosts an annual car show. The money raised is used to put on the Annual Daddy/Daughter Dance and to provide extra activities at the Harvest Carnival. Sundale's PTA also plays a vital role in providing for our students. The annual Walk-A-Thon is their only fundraiser that contributes to grade level field trips, enrichment activities, projects which keep the campus environment looking nice.

Contributions to the community: In supporting Sundale School's mission that students should participate in community service, all seventh grade students must enroll in a one-trimester Service Learning Class. This class supports the local Light House Rescue Mission through donating toiletries to the moms and children and by making blankets for them during the winter. Additionally this Christmas these students visited our local Convalescent Home, Twin Oaks, and sang Christmas carols. A school wide effort providing opportunity for moral action was the adoption of families during the holiday season.

Contributions outside the community: Sundale students also collect pull tabs for the Ronald McDonald House and fundraise for Children's Hospital of Central California by selling "Kids Day" newspapers and Valentine Balloons on our school campus. Our most recent effort is dedicated to the devastation in Haiti. We have joined "Shoes for Haiti". A collection of gently worn shoes are collected on campus and then delivered to a shipping site in Hanford, California.

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John S. Wash Elementary School (410 students; K-6)
Sanger Unified School District, Fresno, CA.
559-251-7543
Principal: Wesley R. Sever

John S. Wash Elementary became a "Community of Caring" school during the 2003-04 school year. Activities are adjusted or added, as needed through discussion with stakeholders and staff. Staff and parents are informed of Community of Caring activities through discussions at PTA monthly meetings, weekly school newsletters, assemblies, and weekly staff meetings.

Many of the activities sponsored by Community of Caring at John Wash target the families of our students. We have conducted family nights such as Meet the Principal night at our local pizza parlor and at Blackbeards to celebrate family and friendship. Families are also included at Grandparents Day, Movie Nights, Donuts with Dad, Muffins with Mom, and a Family Talent Show Night with dinner. Family Math Night, Internet Safety, and Gang Awareness are an example of our Parent Education Nights held four times per year. A Drama Club Production and a staff, student and parent softball game are held on an annual basis. These events promote family, fun and educational events such as our Drug Awareness Night where we had a detective speak to parents about drugs and the dangers they hold. Children were also invited to attend with their parents.

"Caught With Character" tickets are given to those children who exemplify and promote one of the core values. These tickets are put into a weekly drawing for various Community of Caring prizes, i.e. pens, CD holders, folders, water bottles, books, backpack character values tags, t-shirts, frisbees, etc. We are fortunate, even though we have increased our enrollment to 410 students, to have an all school opening every morning on our blacktop. At these openings, the students are reminded of all 5 of our Community of Caring values. We also come together at this time as a family when the principal asks, "Who's a Tiger?" and the students respond, "I'm a Tiger!" or when the principal states, "Community of Caring is..." and the students respond, "Respect, Responsibility, Caring, Trust and Family." We have adopted the Project Wisdom program where a character value story is read every Monday. Monthly award assemblies are a time when reading, writing, and math awards are given. Each teacher gives a Student of the Month award where a student is recognized for embodying the selected value of the month in an outstanding fashion.

Each teacher firmly believes that John Wash students are not "my" students. Instead, we strongly believe that we are responsible for all of "our" students. John Wash is indeed a family of caring. Our fourth, fifth, and sixth graders participate in a Peer Mediation program. Groups of four students roam the playground during recesses wearing yellow vests with value badges to try to solve any problems that students may have. In order to aid in solving problems, they often utilize the five core values with students.

Our upper grade students buddy up with younger students to help them read. This also fosters responsibility in the older peers and creates a caring playground situation where older students play with the younger students with little or no problems. This Big Buddy/Little Buddy system creates a sense of family within our school.

Community of Caring encourages service learning as an important component of character education. For the past six years, our students have adopted a Make a Wish child and have exceeded their expected goals. This year we adopted one of our own students through the Make a Wish Foundation. We were able to send the student and his family to Disney World.

We have been honored to receive the Bonner Character Education Award twice in the past. We are excited to have some new ideas and changes this year. First, we include Ron Clark's Essential 55 on all of our newsletters. Project Wisdom continues to be a major part of our character education program. These messages put forth a few words of wisdom from which we can all benefit. This year our fifth grade class is performing another Shakespeare play for our Family Night Dinner demonstrating the value of caring. We also are continuing with our Family Talent Show. We reflected on volunteers and decided that moms were a large part of our school, but dads were not. So our WatchDOG program was implemented. DOG stands for Dads of Great Students. These dads come to our school opening and are introduced to our school family by their own children. They then visit each classroom and are on the playground at recess interacting with not only their own children, but also all students. Pictures of dads and their kids are on our WatchDOG bulletin board in the cafeteria.

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Wilson Elementary School
Sanger Unified School District, Sanger, CA.
559-875-4501
Principal: David Paliughi

At Wilson Elementary, 100% of our students receive free lunch and breakfast due to the economic challenges that beset our community. The issues that face families have increased at an alarming rate to include single parenting households, substance abuse, homelessness, gangs, violence, and child abuse. The greater the economic challenges plague the community we serve, the greater the opportunity our students and families will experience sociological issues. It is this reasoning regarding the times as well as our driven pursuit to leave none of our children behind that Wilson Elementary has chosen to not only continue the promotion of core ethical values as the basis of moral character but to enhance our programs such that students we serve not only exhibit gains in core academic areas but that they leave our school as ambassadors of good character.

The specific character goal for Wilson students is to create a sense of family/community and in turn a broader sense of responsibility to one's family/community. The staff at Wilson takes this goal and puts it into action in terms of instruction on a daily basis as serious as the instruction of the state standards in mathematics and language arts. Wilson Elementary uses Sanger Unified School District's (SUSD) adopted character education program, Community of Caring (CC). The CC program has a rich history and was founded and chaired by Eunice Kennedy Shriver. The core values addressed by the program are caring, responsibility, trust, respect, and family. These values are taught using not only formal lessons but also interwoven into lessons that cover state standards such as social studies and/or English language arts. Furthermore, these values are woven into the weekly community meetings that are held in every classroom K – 5th. The Wilson staff believes that our character goal of fostering a sense of family/community within our students coupled with responsibility to both is critical to the success of the students we serve.

Each value from the CC program is targeted on a monthly basis. The monthly character traits are visible throughout our school as well as on any home – school communications. Furthermore, our principal along with our elected ASB students address the monthly value on the morning announcements known to our student body as Bulldog Radio. Students are reinforced to not only learn the focus value but to live it in a variety of techniques. First, students who exhibit the value of the month anywhere on the campus are offered a Bulldog Buck, which enables them to purchase items in our student store. These bucks are sought after regardless of grade. A response cost system is also in place so that if students are observed to exhibit behavior that is discordant with any of the values we have covered, they could not only have traditional disciplinary consequences such as detention or parent conferences, they could also pay a fine in the way of bulldog bucks. Students are also reinforced daily in the form of the opportunity to achieve Bulldog Blue on our systematic progressive behavioral card system that is in place throughout the school. Students who are observed within their classrooms demonstrating a value or students who are caught with character can be asked to pull a card, traditionally a negative consequence however at Wilson, when asked to pull your card to Bulldog Blue students receive special classroom privileges, parents are notified their child achieved Bulldog Blue for the day and every student that pulled a blue card during the week is entered in a weekly drawing that is announced by the principal and/or ASB officers every Friday morning.

To provide students with a safe, secure and bully-free environment the entire staff along with parents decided implement the Olweus anti-bullying program. The current year began with every adult along with many parents participating in trainings that strengthened the school's response to bullying behavior. Teachers agreed, and it was decided that each teacher in grades Kindergarten through fifth grade would spend 30 minutes per week holding a community meeting within their classes. Within these community meetings, teachers would not only cover issues related to our core values, they would provide students instruction on social skills using Second Step, they would unfold and create a foundation within their classrooms for eradicating bullying using the Olweus program, and teachers would also use real life examples either through their adopted social skills curriculum or tie in current events in which an individual or group represented one of the to be learned values.

Prior to the implementation of the community meetings an anti-bullying kickoff assembly was held in September in which parents were explained the results of the previous years data and the plans to add the Olweus program. Our student body, which consists of an elected representative from each classroom, also visited each classroom and further explained the Wilson progressive discipline policy which included for the first time a positive card that students could be asked to pull if they were demonstrating one of our core values, namely that of Bulldog Blue.

Teachers not only instruct our students on the value of keeping a clean campus, the teachers are often the ones during a recess or prep period walking the campus and picking up trash. Many of our teachers have adopted some of our neediest families and include them in events outside of the school such as church. A partnership was developed with the neighborhood Boys & Girls Club with the idea to increase the values espoused in the CC program. Lastly, all coaches, after school staff, student body coordinator, and or any adult that works in a mentor program at Wilson spends time addressing the core values within the respective extra curricular activity that they provide leadership to.

In order to contribute to not only Wilson but also the community at large the Wilson staff has created a unique student government. Students have the opportunity to run for traditional positions such as President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary, and Athletics Commissioner, as well as non-traditional positions such as Grounds Commissioner, Student Store Manager, and Community of Caring officer. Furthermore, in order to provide everyone a voice, a classroom representative is elected from each room. Student body meetings are run by the students with the support of the student body coordinator and the Wilson school psychologist. Within these meetings the students seek ways to further the implementation of our core values. The students have decided to recognize adults who exhibit core values and celebrate these adults with a recognition plaque. Most recently, our student body has elected to participate in a fundraising activity for Haiti. The students decided that the recent crisis in Haiti not only deserved our attention but rather our support. Students have taken to the Bulldog radio on a daily basis encouraging each other to bring in Pennies for Haiti. This year our student body has also begun a campaign to make the Wilson campus Green. Students from many grade levels have begun meeting with various local recycling companies as well as discussing ways that students and staff can reduce waste as well as recycle what we use during the academic day.

In order to support our students decision making process in a real life setting peer mediators from fourth and fifth grades are trained to use conflict resolution skills both on the playground as well as disputes that occur within our classrooms. Our peer mediators are identifiable at lunch recesses by wearing peer mediation vests. Moreover, every year peer mediators provide in classroom training both on conflict resolution as well as how to use their services in order to resolve a situation involving conflict between students. In terms of referrals to the peer mediation program, the staff and students have noticed a tremendous decrease in referrals this year. Many believe that a concentrated focus on our core values coupled with weekly community meetings as well as our efforts to eradicate bullying on our campus has resulted in less of a need for students to seek out peer mediators to help them resolve conflict.

While Wilson has received numerous acknowledgements over the past two years for our students' academic successes, it is the firm belief of our staff that our time invested in character education, whether it be the CC program, our weekly community meetings, the development of an anti-bullying program, or the attention and time we spend recognizing students who exhibit our core values have all contributed directly to our students' overall academic successes. Teachers believe that as they spend time educating their students on the importance of caring, responsibility, trust, respect, and family, students in turn take their job as students more seriously.

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Promising Practices from the 2008 Virtues and Character Award Winning Schools

(Excerpts from the applications)

 

Burton Elementary School
Burton School District (600 Students, Grades K-4)
Porterville, Ca 93257
559-784-2401
Principal: Mr. Phil Nava

Every Friday morning, student gathering are held to recognize and honor children modeling good character during the previous week. Parents are given monthly opportunities to write and share about a time they have “caught” their child demonstrating good character. In addition, the Parent Teacher Club offers school spirit days, which celebrates the pillar of the month.

In addition, students are recognized monthly by classroom teachers who present a write-up honoring the student and the pillar of character they have modeled. Each student has their picture taken and it is displayed on the Wall of Character in the cafeteria. In the month of October, student names are sent to the county for special recognition, which, involves receiving a pencil, a t-shirt and a farmable certificate. During a later school assembly each student is recognized and honored for the great choices used in modeling good character.

Many classrooms take turns adopting different areas of the campus to keep clean and neat. Rewards are not necessary when it comes to the beautification of our campus! Students respect the grounds they play on and take care of the grounds to keep them clean and safe for all. Students have also supported a recycling program to earn new lunch tables for the outside area! Every Tuesday students bring recycled items from home with the help of their parents to help earn money towards the purchases of new equipment to build a better campus. So far the students have collected over $2,500.00 dollars.

One of the most exciting projects the children of Burton Elementary have participated in was Caps for Kids. The students gathered new and old hats to be decorated and donated by students and the community. The hats were then sent to Valley Children’s Hospital for children undergoing chemotherapy. Patients undergoing treatment received a new hat each time they went for treatment! The artistic ability was amazing and the joy of treating and giving was heart stopping!

Our most recent project involved adopting a family who had a child with leukemia. The students emailed the student, wrote letters and cards and collected money to help with costs. In the end, the family lost their child, and our staff and students felt the loss. Our efforts continue today with a memorial fund and a conscientious outreach to those in similar situations.

Staff character is really making its mark as well! During the last few months, I have watched my staff alone, lend overwhelming support to one of our teachers and his student. Special efforts are being made to provide one of our students with prosthesis. Our little guy was born without hands and a leg. Special accommodations have been made for this youngster, and his class friends have seen the care and support being given. While seeing this happen students have been extremely empathetic and understanding. A community member and parent, who happens to work in the special effects section of the entertainment teachers has joined in the effort to make this prosthesis. In addition one of our local middle school teachers has joined in the effort, by having his science class student’s work in the design of the prosthesis. All of this involvement in the humane effort will certainly enrich the understanding of character traits in all of our community.

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Cedarwood Elementary School
Clovis Unified School District (698 Students, Grades K-6)
Clovis, Ca 93611
559-327-6000
Principal: Colin Hintergardt

When people and programs are focused and designed to accommodate all aspects of academic development, good things will happen. Cedarwood students learn and develop values and good character through important programs such as CHARACTER COUNTS!, Cedarwood Etiquette, Hawk Attitude, and No T/B (No Teasing/ Bullying.) When a joint effort is made between a community and a school, a strong feeling of ownership transpires. Cedarwood is a “family friendly” school that strongly believes that student performance is directly associated with family involvement. An early introduction to strong ethical and moral behavior will benefit students at school and serve their future with a value driven lifestyle. Every staff member understands his role in the implementation of a client centered instructional program that models community values, appreciates individual differences, and recognizes the significance of every person.

The CHARACTER COUNTS! Program began in the fall of 1998. Each year the six pillars are highlighted individually and discussed on morning announcements as well as in the classroom. In addition, one student from each primary class and two students from each upper grade class are awarded a CHARACTER COUNTS! certificate for their display of the monthly trait. The traits in this program include trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship.

Cedarwood has implemented its very own “No T/B” to help students recognize and avoid individual or group behaviors that can make a student feel unsafe or uncomfortable. The No T/B Council is comprised of a group of 6th grade students who meet with a teacher advisor to role play, review videos, and develop methods for dealing with teasing and bullying on campus. This council is then used in peer counseling situations with kindergarten through sixth grade students. This program goes hand in hand with our Cedarwood Etiquette Program. Promoting appropriate behaviors in students is a key concern of the Cedarwood community. Thus, Cedarwood Etiquette was initiated to influence a student’s behavior in all social situations and relationships.

Unfortunately, crime is a factor in most school communities. With this in mind, Cedarwood has implemented measures to keep our children safe on campus. The Safe School Plan is updated annually and addresses the procedures to be followed in the event of a crisis. Monthly safety drills are in practice to ensure appropriate response in an emergency situation. Our efforts to ensure a clean and safe learning environment are validated by parents in our school’s annual parent SART surveys. Families in our community have yearly rated Cedarwood among the top three schools out of the thirty-one elementary schools in Clovis Unified.

To promote cohesion, our school nurse has implemented Kids’ Club which is a program that targets students who deal with difficult emotional and social issues. This club is a non-threatening environment where kids feel free to share and make bonds with peers to help them outside the group. To promote wellness with all students, the school nurse has initiated Hawk Walk. This program targets 4th through 6th grade students. The goal of this program is for individuals to not only work on their health but to also encourage each other.

Sixth grade students participate in a Buddy Program with our Functional Skills class. This program has 6th grade students working with these special education students in class, on the playground, and during special events such as Special Olympics and Break the Barriers. Students from the 4th, 5th, and 6th grade classes work with primary students to assist in classroom work and during recess as a means to form friendships. A new physical education program called GAME DAY has been implemented at Cedarwood. This program not only teaches a healthy lifestyle but how to play fair and respect your teammates and opposing teams. Important life lessons on team work, good sportsmanship and importance of exercise is the purpose of this 100 minute weekly program. The CHARACTER COUNTS! pillars have been infused into the program to provide daily reinforcements through “Words of Wisdom.” “Words of Wisdom” is the cool down segment of GAME DAY when teachers further discuss topics such as participation, nutrition, team building, and etiquette.

Our school motto is Pay It Forward. Pay It Forward is not just something we say or write about it, it is a behavior that is learned and passed on. A perfect example is our Cedarwood Student Council. Comprised of approximately forty students, this group is continually involved in modeling and promoting generosity to others in our community. An annual event for the council is collecting recyclables. Proceeds from this event are used to provide gifts for the Salvation Army Star Tree. Another example of Pay It Forward is our annual canned food and sock drive. The Student Council also collects and provides personal care items for the Marjorie Mason Center and the Poverello House. The student body also collected coins and donated the proceeds to the Fresno Fire Fighters Association which cares for burn victims. Each year the Parent Club in conjunction with the student body, plans a philanthropic event to benefit a family or local cause. Under the supervision of a staff member, our Litter Getter program was started by students several years ago as a means to help the custodial staff with general campus beautification.

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Centerville Elementary School
Sanger Unified School District (255 students, grades K-6)
Sanger, Ca 93657
559-787-2511
Principal: Lisa Houston

Centerville (CV) School community has agreed on the core ethical values it wishes to promote through participating in the district Community of Caring (CoC) program as we believe that self-esteem is critical to the development of the whole child.

CV School and its staff are intentional and proactive in addressing character education at all grade levels as we concentrate on one value for a two-month period. Each classroom has grade-level appropriate literature and videos that exemplify each of the five character traits. Each classroom teacher goes above and beyond the district-required activities to design and teach lessons that are appropriate for the needs of their individual classroom. Our Student Council plans activities for our weekly school meeting around the flagpole that unite our school as a CoC. The activities range from songs, to skits, and even famous quotes that inspire us to be better community members.

CV takes great pride in our school. Classrooms are responsible for choosing, planning and maintaining much of our landscaped and garden area. Local businesses provide financial support, plants and workers to assist us in maintaining our beautiful site. Plans have been drawn up to further enhance our landscaping. We will be installing sprinklers, benches and new playground equipment with the help or our community. Parents volunteer to help paint, maintaining our game fields, donate sand, weed gardens and develop new landscape areas. Our PTA has donated red (our school color) trashcans and has set aside money for future beautification projects. Each classroom has a designated area of campus to maintain and keep clean. It is important to note that in the next few months we will be doing extensive further work on our fields with community sponsors, and our parents and staff will contribute time and materials to help us provide a top quality and safe facility for our children.

Additional programs that instill solid character elements are Second Step, Friendship Club and Special Friends. Students in these programs are given opportunities to work through situations prompting positive behavior and responsible decision-making. Students are provided safe environments to self evaluate and peer problem solve. These opportunities lead to students making better social and behavioral choices in the future. Special Friends and Friendship Club are early intervention programs originally funded through the State Department of Mental Health. These programs provide services to our at-risk kindergarten through third-grade students.

CV makes it a priority for students to contribute in meaningful ways to the school, to others and to the community. Students have adopted needy families in our community, which reinforces our CoC values. CV is very proud of our success story with at-risk students, including a small percentage of homeless that are living in tents and cars within our boundaries. We have collected money for our local children’s hospital, fire, hurricane, and tsunami victims. Other opportunities to give have come through holiday food drives, Toys for Tots, Coats for Kids and periodic cleanup and tree plantings at our local China Creek Park. Fundraising events become community affairs and are strongly supported by staff, parents and community members.

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Fugman Elementary School
Clovis Unified School District (527 Students, Grades K-6)
Fresno, Ca 93730
559-327-8700
Principal: Sharon Uyeno

In 1998, CUSD adopted a character education program based on William Bennett’s book, The Book of Virtues, which is widely utilized today. Core ethical values are designated monthly and each classroom is involved in lessons and activities or discussions related to the following six pillars: trustworthiness, responsibility, respect, fairness, caring, and citizenship which form the basis of good character. Fugman is committed to character development of these values referred to as “character traits.” These traits are defined in terms of behaviors that can be observed in the life of the school.

Fugman community values good character with the six pillars displayed throughout the campus with the motto: Treat others the way you want to be treated. References to the pillars of character at all school wide events, assemblies, and award presentations. Fugman strives to effectively communicate and inform all stakeholders of character development through a variety of venues: site/classroom websites, Weekly Marlin Messenger, CUSD Today, Parent-Student Handbook, newsletters, School Accountability Report Card, School Site Plan, and flyers. From the first good morning greeting from the custodian or office manager to the afternoon farewell by the bus driver or crosswalk volunteer, respect and a positive environment are reflected in our behavioral expectations. Character Counts! is our cornerstone program at Fugman.

The school staff takes deliberate steps in developing character, drawing wherever possible on practices shown by research to be effective. All stakeholders take pride in maintaining a clean, safe, and well-managed learning environment free from drugs, alcohol, crime and violence. Grounds and buildings are maintained well with all repairs promptly attended to for safety. Each classroom monitors their assigned “clean up area” and Clean Campus Inspections are conducted by both parents and the Student Council Grounds Commissioner. A classroom numerical score is provided school wide on a weekly basis by the Commissioner.

All students (K-6) participate in Red Ribbon Week activities focused on “Just Say No to Drugs!” in October and receive instruction in “Too Good for Drugs,” for grades K-5.

We have utilized the Character Counts! Program as a basis for all school wide positive discipline. Rules and expectations are clearly posted in classrooms. A school wide reward and consequence system is enforced. Teachers use positive reinforcement strategies such as spell outs, team points, individual incentive tickets, and marbles in the jar to encourage positive classroom behavior. Stakeholders are readily aware of our systematic multi-step discipline policy that aligns consequences directly to our Character Counts! system enabling efficiency and effectiveness with minimal loss of instructional time due to lack of disruptions on campus.

The school community acknowledges that students must learn by doing. To develop good character, students need numerous and varied service learning opportunities to apply values in everyday situations, interactions, discussions. For example, Student Council and Human Relations Council meet bi-weekly to identify and resolve issues among students using Character Counts!. They develop respect and trust for each other as they problem solve student relational issues. Human Relations Council focuses on the understanding of diversity and Character Counts!. They complete and analyze surveys to improve relations with peers on campus. Teachers trained to teach Bully Proofing Your School Program, report improvement in students’ interpersonal communication skills and respect for each other’s differences. Classroom meetings and student led forums address issues concerning friendships and inappropriate behaviors. Teachers facilitate using questioning strategies and relate behavior to the pillars of character. These student forums establish pledges which include character values and recite them prior to every meeting.

Fugman provides a comprehensive and varied co-curricular program. Students who participate establish a commitment and relationship to peers and adults. Their learning experiences strengthen character and promote self-esteem. For four consecutive years, 100% of Fugman students in grades 4-6 participated in a minimum of one co-curricular activity. These include athletics, choir, band, orchestra, Safety Marlins, History Day, Robotics, Destination Imagination, Science Fair, Library Monitor, Cafeteria Helper, Cross Age Tutor, Campus Beautification, Intramurals, Cheer, Drama, Art Contests and Essay Contests. Programs for recognition of student achievement and citizenship are designed so each student has the opportunity to be recognized.

School wide training of character values and curriculum is provided to each new teacher. Teaching guides and videos are available in the Library Media Center. All of our coaches center their teambuilding on the pillars of character. The athletic teams display character value mottos on their team shirts.

Fugman provides opportunities for students to apply the values we associate with good character. These activities provide opportunities for student action and character building. As Aristotle said, “when we do good things then we become good people.”

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Garfield Elementary School
Clovis Unified School District (750 Students, Grades K- 6)
Clovis, Ca 93619
559-327-6800
Principal: Jessica Mele

The Garfield Community agrees that the tenets of the school’s core values are based on the belief that every child has access to a rigorous curriculum in a safe, positive environment where Character Counts! Good character is the foundation upon what our values are built upon and it is the basis of teamwork. According to John Maxwell in his book The 17 Laws of Teamwork, “Anytime you desire to build a team, you have to begin by building character in the individuals who make up the team.”

Morning announcements include blurbs about good character. Every Friday students’ names are drawn from a basket of Good Character Cubs and are awarded trips to the treasure drawer. Garfield’s Health and Wellness coordinator meets with the teachers from every grade level helping them develop lessons that integrate positive character traits into classroom lessons. She is also responsible for validating the evidence files of our school programs such as DARE, Tobacco Prevention, and Game Day Physical Education Program. Two years ago Garfield’s peer counselors developed and implemented a No-Teasing/ No Bullying policy that is strongly enforced. The peer counselors present lessons in every classroom and are available for students anytime.

Conflict resolution lessons provided by the Alta Sierra students to all of the fifth and sixth grade classrooms help students work out differences in a peaceful manner. Every October, the Health and Wellness Committee plans the Red Ribbon Week. This is a week-long celebration of what positive things our CUBS are doing to make their bodies healthy and drug-free. Awards are presented for good and healthy character posters, raps, and essays and are announced throughout the week. Refusal skills provided by the Buchanan High School Peer Counselors help our fourth graders say no to drugs, tobacco, and alcohol. Primary students create posters, write stories with morals, and role play.

For the last 13 years, Garfield parents, students, and staff have sponsored the Giving Tree in November and December by adopting different schools in the impoverished areas of Fresno and Clovis and providing gifts and food for the students and their families. This past year over 600 gifts of clothing and toys were collected, wrapped, and given. For the last two years in January and February, our Fellowship of Christian Athletes collected clothing and toiletries for the Marjorie Mason Center and presented them to the families living there. Grades 5-6 representatives from the Student Council served food this year at the Poverello House and came back to report how good they felt after seeing how many children would have gone hungry if the Poverello House did not provide meals.

Put-downs are never accepted. Students are taught to be kind, courteous, and considerate to each other as well as the adults on the campus. As a result, there has not been a single intentional physical incident at Garfield in three years. Because Garfield houses three classrooms of Deaf and Hard of Hearing students ranging in grades from pre-kindergarten to sixth grade the CUBS have become more aware of students with special needs. The deaf students are mainstreamed for part of their day and participate in all of the co-curricular programs such as: sports, Science Fair, History Day, Destination Imagination, and Robotics. Deaf interpreters are provided to promote participation. The Garfield Special Education Center (GSEC) located on the Garfield Campus is also part of the school. The GSEC students in three classrooms are medically fragile and are not able to be integrated into the mainstream classes. To make all students feel included, students from the general education classrooms reverse mainstream into the GSEC classrooms helping with art, music, plays, and story reading. This has become a wonderful learning character building experience for our general education students. There is a waiting list for students to volunteer at the Center.

Upper grade students keep a personal responsibility (PR) card in their desks. If the (PR) card is maintained through positive behavior, the students then participate in a special event at the end of each quarter such as bingo for prizes, trips to John’s Incredible Pizza, roller-skating, or a movie.

The Garfield staff set consequences for those students who exhibit poor examples of character. For example teachers ask their students, “What would have been a better choice?” The student has the opportunity to explain what they could have done to make a positive character and value demonstration and given the opportunity to correct the negative choice. If the student continues to make poor choices, then a peer counseling referral can be made. The Garfield Peer Counselors are part of the Human Relations Committee who meet on Wednesdays and have gone through a three-month certification through the Buchanan High School Peer Counseling Program.

Staff and parents of the Multi-Cultural IDAC Committee meet four times a year to plan and discuss ways for the Cubs to become more familiar with other cultures. In May of each year, everyone celebrates Passport to the Future. This is an accumulation of these cultural units of study. Musicians, speakers, and dancers are invited from other elementary and secondary schools to perform. A fashion show displaying clothing from 23 different countries was presented last year and was a huge hit. Plans this year will include an international food fair and a presentation of flags from other countries.

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Gibson Elementary School
Fresno Unified School District (413 Students, Grades K-6)
Fresno, Ca 93711
559-451-4500
Principal: Helen Cabe

The mission statement at Gibson Elementary is to provide excellence in education to all students, to promote success and greater student achievement through high expectations, and to develop responsible, contributing citizens. Promoting this mission statement, Gibson has adopted the character education program CHARACTER COUNTS!. The identified character traits can dramatically improve the ethical quality of our students’ decision-making process and thus their character and lives. In order for children to achieve at their highest level, we strongly feel emphasizing character to our students is a necessity both in and out of the classroom.

As you walk though our small campus, there are poles in the corridors painted with the six CHARACTER COUNTS! colors: Trustworthiness- blue, Respect- yellow, Responsibility- green, Fairness- orange, Caring- red, and Citizenship- purple.

These six traits are introduced and taught to our students every day during the school year. Each Wednesday, students and staff wear the specified color corresponding to the identified monthly trait. Teachers choose a student from their class whom they feel represents the specific monthly character trait. During lunch on this day, the selected students sit at the CHARACTER COUNTS! table. To highlight the specialness surrounding the CHARACTER COUNTS! table, the table is placed on the stage for the entire student body to view and it is colorfully decorated.

Fourth through sixth grade students are recognized for academic achievements during a school wide assembly for all those who have earned high honor, honor, or merit status. Each student is announced and stands on the stage as they receive their appropriate pin. A separate assembly honors those students who have perfect attendance with no tardies. At this time, the local Kiwanis Club donates bicycles to two lucky students that are drawn randomly at the end of each quarter.

The Block “G” Award is given out each semester to students in the fourth through sixth grade to recognize their academic and extracurricular achievements. The award is based on various achievements which include honor roll, citizenship, perfect attendance, sports, and extracurricular activities. Some of the activities that are offered at Gibson are student safety patrol, chorus, band, student council, fine arts faire, talent show, Geography Bee, and Peach Blossom.

Over the past few years, students have been given the opportunity to participate in after-school activities. These activities have included drama, dance, ceramics, sign language, cheerleading, science, cake decorating, and many others. The most interesting and widely attended activity is broadcast/ journalism.

On a weekly basis, students volunteer their recess time to help in the cafeteria and on the playground. Eight students assist the cafeteria staff by wiping down tables after lunch. It is such a coveted position that we have to rotate sign-ups every week. Our primary students donate their time by picking up trash on the school grounds during their lunch recess. The privilege for our fourth grade students is to pick up leaves that fall in the winter. Teachers choose eight different students on a weekly basis to rake and pick-up leaves around campus.

Our daily announcements are done by members of the Student Council. An officer is given the opportunity to announce for an entire week to the student body. We have a fall and spring Student Council in which students give speeches to the entire school to earn their vote. Having two different Student Councils during the year gives more students a chance to serve in office. This is a fun and exciting event for all participants that choose to run for office.

Gibson was also chosen to participate in the Schoolcents Program through Fashion Fair. As a part of that program, the school was able to donate twenty-six Holiday Buckets of food to needy families within Fresno Unified. Families donated food and other items to those that were in need. In February, we have our annual prescription eyeglass drive with the North Fresno Lions Club. The students are empowered to proactively recycle and build core values for all phases of their lives.

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Harold L. Woods Elementary School
Clovis Unified School District (664 Students, Grades K-6)
Clovis, Ca 93619
559-327-8800
Principal: Tracy Smith

Harold L. Woods Elementary School believes that a curriculum in character is just as important as a curriculum in knowledge. We realize that we are not only cultivating the minds of students, but instilling morals and ethics that will aid them as lifelong learners. As a part of the Clovis Unified School District, Woods Elementary actively promotes the Character Counts! program.

One of the traits Woods Elementary has put increased focus on this year is respect. We have created “respect agreements” which encompass the following four areas: Student to Student, Student to Adult, Adult to Student, and Everyone to Woods. These respect agreements were created for the whole school, as well as individual classrooms, using input from all involved parties. Their purpose is to serve as a constant reminder of the proper way to treat others; being mindful of their emotions, property, and physical well-being.

We are aware of the growing diversity among students in public schools and the possible cultural barriers they may face. Instead of dealing with issues as they arise, Woods has begun educating students and staff alike in the areas of cultural diversity awareness.

This is an idea which we feel has taken character and citizenship to a new level. We are no longer focusing on the similarities of students to promote positive social development and group cohesion. Instead, we are recognizing the differences that make us all individuals. This way we are modeling the true meanings of fairness, equity, caring and respect for others. Students learn to appreciate the positive character traits in their peers and not base their opinions on physical characteristics.

Students, parents, and teachers recently participated in a school organized “multicultural assembly” to celebrate the many cultures represented at our school. Teachers have taken it upon themselves to incorporate multicultural themes into their daily lessons. We have had guest speakers address the school about the African culture, Chanukah, and Chinese New Year. All of which have been done to show students that understanding is done through education.

We use a reward system on campus for students who do good deeds; it is called “Random Acts of Kindness”. Every time a student is seen doing a good act or deed they are given an entry into a weekly drawing for their choice of a prize from our prize bin. Classes show their responsibility by having areas assigned to them to monitor for trash, we have students that volunteer to be greeters for newcomers to Woods Elementary School, and most impressively we have students who train to become peer mediators.

The peer mediator program is similar to the peer counseling programs at the intermediate and high school levels. Students go through a rigorous training in conflict resolution to assist their peers with problems they may be having. Students who are experiencing difficulties with another student or just want to talk to a peer about a situation are encouraged to meet with these mediators.

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Homan Elementary School
Fresno Unified School District (631 Students, Grades K-6)
Fresno, Ca 93705
559-457-2940
Principal: Suzanne Jones

At Homan, the staff made a commitment to learn about setting the stage and modeling excellent behaviors. Last summer, the principal and support coaches attended training for GESA (Generating Expectations for Student Achievement). The staff has embraced the GESA training and they strive to create an equitable approach to educational excellence.

There are several components to the Homan Community Character Counts! program that make it an exceptional educational program. The components are as follows: values across the curriculum, ongoing training, support for staff, peer mediation, and family and community involvement with service learning. Teachers have made the commitment to model core values and provide positive recognition for students. We have activities that promote student awards and parent involvement.

At Homan Elementary School character education is promoted on campus throughout the entire day. Our morning announcements include our values and support specific examples of behaviors that are aligned with our character education of excellence program. Students are reminded that caring students help keep the school clean and responsible students turn in their homework as well as we all respect others by keeping our hands and feet to ourselves. In addition to our character reminder we salute the flag to show respect for our country. We have a peer mediation program, where students work with other students to solve problems and differences. These students carry a clipboard, wear special shirts and keep a log of all conflict resolutions. These are a few examples of how we support Character of Educational Excellence.

Our classified staff takes an active role in making sure students recognize the character value of the month. One of our expectations within the staff is that we model GESA (Generating Expectations for Student Achievement) everyday. Teachers have often given us feedback as to how they are able to implement a particular value into the core curriculum or writing lesson.

Our staff has made it a daily practice to teach our students right from wrong. Our school wide discipline policies reinforce that each student must treat one another with dignity and respect. We continue to strive to connect students to our school because creating students with excellent character will create productive citizens with a caring attitude for our Fresno community.

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Jackson Elementary School
Sanger Unified School District (440 Students, Grades K-5)
Sanger, Ca 93657
559-875-5549
Principal: Brad Huebert

The mission of Jackson School is to help students become secure contributing members of our society. Our staff takes very seriously the need to explicitly teach character education on a daily basis. We have identified core ethical values as the basis of our character education program. Adopting a “direct instruction” method for our core curricular areas, our staff employ the same approach to character education at Jackson. The identified core ethical values are intentionally and comprehensively taught throughout the school’s environment daily. Jackson also encourages its students opportunities for positive moral action.

Jackson School bases its core ethical values on those from a National program, Community of Caring. These core values serve as the backbone of the program and for character development. There are five main core ethical values: respect, responsibility, trust, family, and caring. Each of the five values is highlighted monthly as a focus for students and community members. The order in which the core values are highlighted throughout the year have been discussed and decided on by the staff and student representatives and is revisited yearly.

In order for students to be successful in demonstrating character traits in the five core values, teachers and staff have weekly discussions with students about targeted behaviors and actions that positively demonstrate the core values. Bulletin boards are created in classrooms displaying outcomes of class discussions. The Principal interviews students in the cafeteria at lunch frequently about what the core value of the month looks like on campus and discusses opportunities to display said values. Kids are given a chance to respond on how they see the core value and what it means to them. Tips to parents for promoting core values at home are included in monthly newsletters sent home from the school. Small skits (5-10 minutes) are organized throughout the year by students and staff highlighting the core values and positive behavior and are shown schoolwide. All stakeholders are involved in the development process of character education at Jackson.

Each classroom on campus displays posters of the five core values in both English and Spanish. These signs are visited frequently by teachers during mini-lessons during the day. Class discussions often follow recesses, as teachers highlight behaviors from the playground that can be learning opportunities for all. Community of Caring Club organizes and promotes skits to be held during student lunch periods for all students, and are held at least three times per year. These skits promote the core value of the month and display common problems associated with student life and the positive choices that students can make based on the core values. Teachers and staff inform parents of behavior at school on a regular basis and reward students with weekly calls home for positive reasons. Jackson School also offers a monthly schoolwide assembly, called Flagpole, recognizing a student from each classroom for displaying qualities and characteristics of the focal core value of the month. Parents are invited to attend and behaviors are reinforced at the assembly. The physical campus also promotes the core values, as murals are painted all around the school emphasizing the core values.

In order for character education to be successful, the students must be given an opportunity to apply what they have learned, first in a structured environment, then released to perform the newly developed skill in practice with feedback to gauge success. Jackson School provides opportunities for students to do just this. Classroom practices include students learning how to properly answer the phone and greet guests who enter the room. Students also take an active role in helping to keep the campus clean and appealing. Many students volunteer daily to help pick up trash and events are scheduled through the Community of Caring Club to plant flowers, bushes, and trees around campus. Students are encouraged to apply their conflict resolution skills in real-life situations. Students are trained as peer mediators and aide on the playground and in classrooms in resolving problems and conflicts that arise between students. “Caught with Character” tickets help to reinforce positive behaviors.

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James K. Polk Elementary School
Central Unified School District (650 Students, Grades K-6)
Fresno, Ca 93722
559-274-9780
Principal: Karen Garlick

In naming the school after the 11th President, James Knox Polk, we hoped to tap into the American spirit and use our rich history to teach the core ethical values of our pioneering ancestors; ethical values that have made our country great! Our school is themed on the Westward Movement and California History, and we take every opportunity to directly teach the character traits embedded in the American West; from the Spanish and Mexican culture and values inherent in California and the South-west, to the heroism present on the frontier, and the risk-taking of President Polk, who in only one term of office,”... engineered the annexation of Texas, bluffed the British out of Oregon, waged war with Mexico to take California and New Mexico, enlarged the country’s land mass by a third and made the United States a continental nation.”

We implemented full inclusion at our school and currently include SDC students in grades 1-6th in our regular education classes with support from the SDC staff. The benefits from full inclusion for our students, both regular education and SDC are truly amazing. A greater awareness has developed for the entire Polk community as we demonstrate daily that we all learn from each other, and we all have positive contributions to make. We practice the Response to Intervention Model, and meet monthly with our Intervention team to look at school-wide data to ensure student needs are being met.

We all have a family story to tell and write about! We celebrate our families’ stories and adventures through writing, art, and oral interpretation. This year our sixth grade students entered the Martin Luther King, Jr. Speech, Essay and Art contest sponsored by the Fresno County Office of Education.

School-wide discipline assemblies are held during the first week of school for every class in order to review our positive discipline system. Developed collaboratively between our teachers and administration, it has been strongly influenced by Fresno County Office of Education’s Leadership Academy developed by the late Jim Coiner and the Dare to Dream Program. Our students are taught to fail-forward when they make a mistake. Therefore, our philosophy of discipline is not punitive, but instead an opportunity for our students to learn. This discipline policy is published in our Parent-Student Handbook and in our Staff Handbook as well. At the end of each school year, our staff meets to review these policies and make changes as needed.

Activities to facilitate student understanding and reflective thinking about the monthly character trait and its importance in developing good citizens are provided monthly to teachers for use with their students. The character value of the month is also published and articles appear on student activities in The Polk Pioneer Press which is published weekly for the Polk community. Our Polk Pioneers of the Month are selected by their classroom teacher for their character, accomplishments, and effort during a monthly luncheon sponsored by our Parent-Faculty Club. Our Pioneers of the Month receive a portrait certificate, a free pizza lunch, and a letter of commendation sent home from the principal specifically detailing why they were selected.

Our staff continually and consistently models morals and manners for our students. We think it is important to engage every student in a positive way as they begin their day. We are ambassadors for our school, and we recognize our words and body language must be positive to project a positive enthusiasm for learning and make students want to return excited to learn the next day.

A pro-active approach is taken by yard duty to engage students in conversation and activity. Loners on the playground are drawn into activities. Structured recess at morning break has been implemented by teachers in the upper grades to ensure that all students at recess are fully included.

Good character is fostered in the classroom by such activities as character plays, class meetings, compliments, and activities built around and the six pillars of Character Counts! In Mrs. Yates second grade classroom, students display their good deeds on a “Character Tree” for all to see and learn. Second graders learn such problem solving strategies as “Walk away,” “Talk it out,” “Make a deal,” “Tell them to stop,” “Wait and cool off,” and “Apologize.” According to Mrs. Yates, “Given the opportunity for students to learn, practice, and articulate such skills in a classroom setting will assist them in developing intrinsic sense of taking the “high road” towards character building and becoming a person of positive solutions to problems in life.”

Students in grades four through sixth participate in the Polk Student Body Council to foster leadership skills, problem solving and decision-making. Student Council meetings are held twice monthly. Elections are held at the beginning of the year. Students go through the nomination process and campaign speeches as well as nomination speeches are made in the Election Assembly. Each upper grade classroom sends two classroom representatives to Student Council. Student council officers conduct the meetings using Robert’s Rules of Order. Suggestions and problem solving of school-wide issues are developed and brought forward to the principal. In this way Student Council acts as an advisory committee to the principal.

Through the Dare to Dream Program, 30 students in 4-6th grade develop leadership skills and participate in service learning. These students attend weekly meetings after school and attend training at Scout Island three times during the year. Dare to Dream trainers from the Fresno County Office of Education help our advisor in providing trainings and activities for these students. Students learn the five stages of leadership and the value of respect, responsibility, and resourcefulness. Under the motto, “You are what you practice,” students work on team-building, communication, and service to their community.

The Public Relations Committee was established last year as a primary student advisory council. Under the direction of Mr. Gurdeep Singh, third grade teacher, students in grades 1-3 meet at lunch time to discuss problems on the playground and in the cafeteria and possible solutions. In a recent meeting, students felt that students were playing around in the restroom and using an inappropriate noise level. This particular restroom shares a common wall with two classrooms, so loud voices impact the learning environment in those rooms. Students suggested that the yard duty person monitor the restroom more frequently. They presented a proposal to the principal and the change was implemented. Instead of rotating through every 10-15 minutes, yard duty now rotates through the restroom every 5 minutes. Students were also concerned about bullying in the primary grades and the use of inappropriate language on the yard. In order to address these issues, the Dare to Dream students are planning to role-model bullying scenarios to the classes along with solutions.

Polk has been very interested in the CSUF Peer Mediation Program under the leadership of Dr. Pamela Lane-Garon. This year the program is being implemented at Polk in grades 4-6th. Student from Fresno State come to our campus weekly to facilitate and role-model for our peer mediators.

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Jefferson Elementary School
Sanger Unified (365 students, Grades K-5)
Sanger, Ca 93657
559-875-4591
Principal: Cathy Padilla

Jefferson Elementary has been a “Community of Caring” school since the 1996 school year. There are several components to the Jefferson Community of Caring program that separate it from other similar programs and make it valid character education program. The components are as follows: values across the curriculum, ongoing training, and support for staff, family and community involvement and service learning, all of which are driven by the coordinating committees’ action plan and site facilitator. At Jefferson Elementary, initial implementation of the Community of Caring was facilitated by the staff’s willingness to implement and model these core values. From the beginning, staff members have worked to continue on going, in-spite of lack of funding support, school awards for students who model core values, family night events and other activities to promote values not only with our students, but with their families and community. The five values are displayed in both English and Spanish in each classroom and office at Jefferson and our value banners are displayed in the cafeteria to remind everyone of our focus on character education.

“Caught Caring” pencils and “Caught with Character” tickets are given to students who demonstrate positive character traits. Once a month we have a Monday morning flag pole announcement with the entire school. We recite the flag salute, and students are reminded of the value we are focusing on and informed of any upcoming Community of Caring or fun works activities. Trimester award assemblies are a time where reading, math, and Community of Caring awards are given recognizing outstanding character and academic achievements of our students. We have a peer mediation program, where students work with other students to solve problems and differences. We also have a special club that was initiated by a group of students that wanted to make a contribution to keeping the campus clean. They rake leaves, pick up trash, and sweep the sidewalks. The club grew from four students to twenty-five. These are some examples of how we support our Community of Caring values.

Jefferson focuses on each of the values for two months, we then rotate each value into our school year. At our Monday morning flag pole we kickoff each value. During flagpole announcements, we utilize the opportunity for our school community to come together and emphasize the importance of developing good character. Our hope is that students leave with a sense of understanding about what is happening in our school, what the particular value means and how they van exemplify that value at school and in life. At one of our Community of Caring/ Funworks assemblies we might have students read about what “respect” is and examples of how you demonstrate respect toward others. As a school we also introduced the Essential 55, published by Ron Clark, Disney Teacher of The Year. Every week we introduce one of the Essential Rules to our student body. Throughout the day students could be asked by any staff member what the essential rule is for the day. Our custodian, food service and support personnel all take an active role in making sure students are asked daily about which rule they learned that day.

The Community of Caring program calls for service learning and is an integral part of our program. Over the course of several years Jefferson students have sold Kid’s Day Edition of the Fresno Bee to help raise money for Valley Children’s Hospital. Every year our student body raises money and collects cans for the needy during the Christmas Holiday.

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John Wash Elementary School
Sanger Unified School District (340 students, Grades K-6)
Sanger, Ca 93657
559-251-7543
Principal: Wesley Sever

John Wash Elementary became a “Community of Caring” school during the 2003-04 school year. The five components necessary for implementation of a successful character education program are outlined by Community of Caring as follows: values across the curriculum, ongoing training and support for staff, student forums, family and community involvement, and service learning. These are all driven by the action plan and site facilitator with guidance from the site administrator and district coordinator. At John Wash Elementary, initial implementation was facilitated by staff willingness to embrace their responsibility to model these values for our students. Teachers and staff were willing to work together to develop school activities, family nights, assemblies, and work these five core values into their curriculum; not as a separate character education program, but instead as a part of their students’ daily lives. These values are shared throughout our families and community.

Many of the activities sponsored by Community of Caring at John Wash Elementary target the families of our students. We have conducted family nights such as Meet the Principal night at our local pizza parlor and at Blackbeards to celebrate family and friendship. Families are also included at our Halloween Carnival, our Grandparents’ Day, Movie Nights, Donuts with Dad, Muffins with Mom, a Family Talent Show Night with dinner, McFamily/ McTeacher night at our local McDonald’s and Chuck E. Cheese a staff, student, parent softball game, and have celebrated Dr. Seuss’s birthday together. These events promote family, fun, and educational events.

A schoolwide assembly is held each month where students, staff, and parents participate. Awards are then given to those Students of the Month who exemplified a particular core value. These assemblies give the community an opportunity to come together and celebrate the importance of good character. An additional assembly is held 4 times per year with a guest DJ. All staff, students, and parents are invited. This person discusses the value of the month with the students and then plays games with the students, staff, and parents focusing on the particular value. Or goal is that students will leave each assembly with a greater understanding of what the particular value means and how to go and live that value throughout their lives.

Community of Caring encourages service learning as an important component of character education. For the past four years, our students have adopted a Make a Wish child and have exceeded their expected goals. In the past students have also sold hot chocolate and coffee in order to earn money for the Hurricane Katrina victims and also the tsunami victims. This was done on their own accord. We also adopted one of our own families for Christmas collecting food and toys for them. Each grade level was assigned one child from that family. They brought toys and food so that one of our own “families” would not go without during this special time. We gathered so much food that we were able to give to another family as well, along with extra toys. Our students are living the values.

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Kratt Elementary School
Fresno Unified School District (536 Students, Grades K-6)
Fresno, Ca 93721
559-457-3595
Principal: Terri Bricker

We believe that Character Education improves the lives and academic success of Kratt students, so volunteer parents and teachers infuse Character Education instruction into every teachable moment. The Kratt leadership Team, The Character Education Committee, the Parent Teacher Association (PTA), the School Site Council (SSC) and the After School Enrichment and Safety Program (ASES) are united in forming an action plan which weaves character education in the curriculum. These committees meet each month and offer input into the School Site Plan. The action plan includes staff development with emphasis on teacher ethics training each month led by a CSUF university professor and Second Step training for teachers; Student Council, Student Body and family organized service learning activities; and values infused throughout the curriculum, evidenced by a behavior program and school rules based upon the six pillars, Character Counts! incentives (Character Counts! pencils and Character Trait of the month tickets). Student Bulldog Character Education Awards are presented each month in every classroom. Positive character incentives are also used by the Peer Mediator program at recess. A Traffic Patrol Leadership program before and after school and a Visual and Performing Arts Program utilize the six pillars as their basic framework. Students must demonstrate behavior following the six pillars, to be included in these programs.

Student editors, reporters, writers and organizers put together broadcasts four days each week, after visiting with real news broadcasters from Channel 47. Character Education traits are a frequent topic covered by our reporters. This year, students are reminded of the importance of responsibility and caring by their drama teacher, as they prepare and practice many weeks for the production, “Annie” which has been made possible through the teaching and donations of the Bonner Family Foundation and After School Program Grants.

Families instill a sense of continuity and tradition into the school, unifying us into a school family provides a safe haven and excellent environment for students to develop into strong, productive citizens. Parents volunteer in classrooms on a regular basis and participate in the PTA and School Site Council as they help our children succeed. The Kratt curriculum includes community partnerships with London Properties, Wal-Mart, Target, Kaiser Permanente, Office Max, the East Fresno Rotary, Fresno Art Museum, California State University, Fresno (CSUF), National University, the Bonner Family Foundation, the Grizzlies, PG&E and the Fresno Philharmonic. Many adults from these community organizations joined us on “Read-a-thon Day” as they modeled by reading to students, and talked about their occupations and the traits students need to learn to become good citizens.

Third through sixth grade students are trained at CSUF by a professor to mediate social problems among their peers on the playground before difficulties grow into major infractions. Students wear Peer Mediator shirts, carry clipboards and keep track of the conflict resolutions that are settled amicably.

Students learn that one way they can grow to their maximum potential is by giving back to their community. Student Council members and their families are participating in school beautification projects by painting the six posts on our pavilion the colors of the six pillar character traits. Students are also developing a school recycling program with the help of Bullard High School Leadership students. Two outdoor patio reading areas furnished with tables, benches, and large concrete planters with flowers tended by students are being added to the campus this spring. Theses patios will also serve as peer mediator havens to solve problems.

Our goal is to provide a well-rounded, complete education with a focus on Character Education woven into the academic curriculum and our strong art curriculum. Strings, Band, Fourth Grade Recorders, an entire Third Grade Chorus, a Kratt Bulldog Chorus, Art and Drama classes develop proficiency in Language Arts and Performing Arts standards as we focus on the development of the “whole child”. The Artsmart Program sponsored by the Fresno Art Museum and Bonner Family Foundation has trained our teachers to infuse character education through art into the standards.

All teachers have been trained in the FUSD Character Education Program and use grant lesson binders that integrate the Houghton Mifflin Language Arts program with Character Counts! and Second Step Social Skills curriculum.

The emphasis on social skills from kindergarten to sixth grade is evident every year as teachers teach the grade level lessons in the Second Step components of Empathy, Impulse Control/ Problem Solving and Anger Management. Posters of these skills and strategies as well as Character Education books are evident throughout the school in classrooms, the front office, reading lab, cafeteria and library. Each teacher has a copy of The Essential 55, published by Ron Clark, the Disney Teacher of the Year. The essential rules are introduced to our students over the intercom and in the lunchroom. Students are “caught being good” as they practice these rules and are commended by receiving tickets.

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Lincoln Elementary School
Sanger Unified School District (Grades K-5)
Sanger, Ca 93657
559-875-5541
Principal: Ketti Davis

“Be kind. Be responsible. Be the best that you can be. The choice is yours” Each day at Lincoln Elementary, students start their day with these words of wisdom. Student council members join the principal to conduct the daily announcements.

Students begin the school year learning about the behaviors associated with being a caring, respectful and trustworthy student. Students sign up to be members of the Community of Caring Club and get involved right away with planning events for the school year. Some events involve only the Lincoln community whereas others are city, county, or nation wide.

Grade level teams are responsible for different areas of the school and a member of Student Council is responsible for checking the campus and reporting which grade level teams are showing the most pride by keeping their area clean.

As expected, some students need more help than others in making positive, healthy choices. Two incredible programs are available for our primary students as a means to promote positive social development. Students needing one to one support are selected to participate in “Special Friends”, a program made possible through EHMI funds. If group interaction assistance is needed, students can be nominated to participate in “Friendship Club.” Participants learn techniques for controlling anger, communicating effectively with peers, and being responsible for oneself.

Lessons on caring, family respect, trust and responsibility are included in after school enrichment time and students continue to be held to the same standards of conduct as during the school day. A teacher liaison is available to help after-school program leaders with these activities and events.

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Lone Star Elementary School
Sanger Unified School District (554 Students, Grades K-6)
Fresno, Ca 93725
559-268-8064
Principal: Dick Larimer

Community of Caring is a character building program centered around the five core values of Caring, Family, Respect, Responsibility and Trust. All of our staff and students strive to exhibit these values on a daily basis. Our Lone Star staff understands the vital importance of modeling these core values for our students, families and community members we serve.

Following our Community of Caring kick-off assembly at the beginning of the year, students are encouraged to sign pledge cards with their parents, “pledging to be a person of character”. We continue this idea of community throughout the year, with activities such as family nights, community service projects, campus beautification, rallies, assemblies and our annual Barn Dance. Each month, students collect items such as school supplies, warm clothing and food items to donate to needy families in the community. The staff, teachers, and PTA work together to ensure to success of these activities. Each month our staff including custodian, cafeteria workers, and office personnel, make a conscious effort to “catch” students demonstrating behavior during the school day identified as the core value of the month.

Although Lone Star is a rural school, tucked between fields of locally grown grape vineyards and almond orchards, we are a community school, serving an area of rapidly growing urban developments.

Lone Star has participated in the Fresno County Office of Education Wellness and Nutrition Program for the past three years. Its purpose is to expose students to local fruits and vegetables and help them make healthy choices in choosing a balanced diet. Each month local farmers provide the “Harvest of the Month” for the entire school. Fruits and vegetables grown locally, such as oranges, kiwi and broccoli are delivered to the school. Teachers incorporate not only the nutritional value of the food into their lessons, but healthy choices that students can make about their diet. Our Physical Education teacher also emphasizes a healthy life style through involvement with exercise and sports activities. She has initiated a Mileage Club where children voluntarily run track to accumulate miles before school and during recess. They earn a reward for every mile they complete, which they collect on a bracelet.

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Madison Elementary School
Sanger Unified School District (466 Students, Grades K- 5)
Sanger, Ca 93657
559-875-4539
Principal: Karl Kesterke

Involving our parent community has been crucial to the achievements of our site. These efforts are strengthened through ongoing activities where the focus is placed on the family unit as it relates to student growth. Things like our family barn dance, Dad’s vs. Students football game, and our Muffins With Moms program, bring the families of our students into the process and provide a singular and cohesive message to our students, promoting our core values both in and out of class. The “Watch D.O.G.S.” (Dads of Great Students) program brings fathers, or father figures, onto our site for the day, helping in classrooms, monitoring the halls, helping at recess, eating lunch with the students, and provides an additional level of supervision and safety to our campus.

We begin each day with the morning bulletin announcements, which consist of pertinent information, student birthdays, and a reading from Project Wisdom, to reinforce the message that character counts. We have also participated in the Fresno County Health and Nutrition wellness program for the last 3 years. Each month, local farmers provide the “Harvest of the Month” to our students, further reinforcing good decision making as it relates to health and nutrition.

There are several programs on our campus designed to reinforce the core values of caring and respect for all students, including those considered to be “high risk”. These include, but are not limited to: the Friendship Club (primary grades), Second Step instruction, and Special Friends (primary grades). In addition, we feel that it is important for our students to develop a respectful and caring attitude toward their peers with special needs. Several of our upper-classmen provide help to both the staff and students in this class on a daily basis.

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Monte Vista Elementary School
Porterville Unified School District (560 Students, Grades K-6)
Porterville, Ca 93257
559-782-7350
Principal: Carol Woodley

We believe that learning must occur in a safe, disciplined, and positive environment. Students are guided by specific rules (be safe, be respectful, be responsible) and classroom expectations (we come to learn) that promote respect, cooperation, courtesy, and acceptance of others. Students know that their job everyday is to come to school to learn.

Monte Vista has the following School Mission Statement that was developed by parents, students, and staff.

Monte Vista’s purpose is to prepare all students to be life long, self-directed learners by forging a partnership with parents and community and by providing a strong academic core delivered through a safe, inviting, student-focused environment. Students are also prepared to develop a positive self-image and an appreciation for diversity which is demonstrated through positive social behavior and good character towards everyone.

Character Counts! day is every Tuesday. Children are encouraged to wear their Character Counts! shirt. Students are reminded that good character is something they should present each and every day. A person of good character is trustworthy, respectful, caring, responsible, fair and shows good citizenship.

During morning announcements, students are reminded of the pillar of the month and what it stands for. The pillar of the month is listed on our monthly school calendar that is sent home to parents. Our calendar is offered in both English and Spanish. The monthly pillar is described and tips for being a person of good character are provided so that staff, parents and children have an opportunity to share these qualities with each other. These same items are also offered to teachers and other staff of Monte Vista on the weekly bulletin.

The students of Monte Vista help donate food to the needy during Thanksgiving and Christmas by collecting and gathering food and then arranging it in beautiful food baskets. Student council also donates scholarships for students with needs. They have donated wrapped gifts to the women and children of the Porterville Women’s Shelter. Our school participates yearly in the Porterville Celebrates Reading. Our choir and orchestra students participate in performances around Porterville.

Student council members coordinate noontime activities such as basketball tournaments, relay races, and obstacle courses. The student government representatives work together all year to provide fun, character and pride building activities for our campus. Student council supports school wide student activities to promote health and wellness such as dress up days, Red Ribbon week and Great American Smokeout. Our students take great “Grizzly” pride in being apart of such fun activities.

Monte Vista participates in a recycling program to encourage students to care for and protect their environment. Student council is in charge of collecting all plastics and cans and reporting this information to the “Trash for Cash” program. Money raised by this program goes directly to students. Students decide how this fund is spent such as student activities and schoolwide assemblies.

Our teachers strive to be positive and uplifting. The students’ job at Monte Vista is to come to school every day to learn. The teachers’ job is to make sure that the students have a positive, comforting atmosphere in which to learn and socialize. We take pride in our relationship with our students.

We continue to change and add new aspects of good character through assemblies, student activities, and parent involvement. Parent involvement is continually encouraged at our school. Over the last two years, our reading specialist, Mrs. Shirk, organized a Family Reading Night to promote reading and parent involvement. Teachers participate by reading a special book and doing a fun activity with the children and parents. An assembly called “Preserve to Victory” was brought to the school which talks to the children about people having disabilities and overcoming hardships.

Teachers have begun incorporating Character Counts! activities in their lesson plans. Character Counts! videos and lesson plan books such as “Good Ideas” are readily available to teachers for lessons. Our librarian shows a monthly video to students through the classroom video system which reflects our school’s monthly pillar. We are always looking for new ideas to promote good character and safety on campus.

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Oak Grove Elementary School
Burton Unified School District (522 Students, Grades K-4)
Porterville, Ca 93257
559-784-0310
Principal: Treasure Weisenberger

Our mission at Oak Grove is to provide an atmosphere that nourishes self-esteem, fosters acceptance of others, and allows for academic success. At Oak Grove, we believe that every child can succeed. We are dedicated to providing quality instruction for all students, along with intervention support for those who may need additional assistance in meeting grade level standards.

In order to support classroom curriculum that addresses the Character Counts! attributes, books in both the fiction and non-fiction genres are provided in the library and readily accessible for classroom use. Videos that address values and good decision-making skills are also available for checkout in the school library. Teachers have been supplied with materials that include ideas for journal writing, quick writes, activities that connect to the core curriculum, as well as books for read-alouds and independent reading that addresses the pillar for each month. The pillar for each month is advertised in classroom newsletters, monthly Character Counts! assemblies, the marquee in front of the school, and in various communications to stakeholders.

Both the Character Counts! and Olweus Bullying Prevention programs provide students with specific behavioral guidelines, along with skills and strategies to deal with confrontational situations. As these programs have grown at our site, there has been an observable increase in student acceptance and respect of others. Our school community has been able to set higher expectations for appropriate behavior and there has been an observable reduction in negative student referrals to the office. Staff members use the Character Counts! pillar words when talking to students and parents about discipline issues so that everyone has a clear understanding of the high expectations for student behavior, along with a description of what positive behaviors look like.

Parents are encouraged to volunteer within the school setting and assist in modeling appropriate character so that students can see that these traits are applicable in community life as well as the school setting. Our Parent Teacher Organization is highly involved in daily school activities and sponsors Character Counts! medals for students, as well as character education school wide assemblies.

In 2003, we commissioned a local artist and parent to design and build a Character Counts! monument. The monument is a hexagonal tower that depicts all six traits of Character Counts!. This year, our PTA also funded the Primary Focus assembly in which young adults put on a very entertaining, yet educational presentation to teach the pillars of character.

Our students have learned about bullying behaviors through the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. Our students now understand the various types of bullying and what they can do to stop bullying on our campus. Because of such programs, we have very few discipline referrals to the office.

This year, we decided to hold a spirit assembly on the first Wednesday of each month. Staff and students meet together on the blacktop wearing purple, which is our school color. The spirit assembly is lead by our principal, Mrs. Weisenberger, along with the help of third and fourth grade student council members. After saying the flag salute, we sing “Happy Birthday” to all of the students who have a birthday for that particular month as the principal gives each student a birthday pencil. Rewards are then given for random acts of kindness and perfect attendance.

A new enthusiasm and commitment to the Character Counts! program is also evident on our campus this year. We have doubled the amount of students who receive awards each month at our Character Counts! assemblies. Two students in each class, from preschool through fourth grade, receive an award and Character Counts! necklace for the focus pillar, and then the Oak Grove PTA takes a group picture of the students to be displayed in the cafeteria.

Under the leadership of our vice principal, a new cafeteria plan was developed to help maintain safety and order in our cafeteria. Students must use friendly voices in line, have respectful conversations at their tables, and clean up after themselves.

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Quail Lake Environmental Charter School
Sanger Unified School District (504 students, Grades K- 8)
Clovis, Ca 93619
559-292-1273
Principal: Chris Stilson

Quail Lake Environmental Charter School takes pride in giving out the “Block QL” award to any and all students that are well-rounded and demonstrate a philosophy of being their best in “Mind, Body, and Spirit” at all times. Our school is extremely high performing, but teachers and students know that academics are not the only ingredient to make them productive citizens later in life. They must become life-long learners, mentally and physically. Respect between students and staff is reflected in school policies and behavioral expectations at QL.

Character education is vital to our school’s environment and QL has embodied the district’s Community of Caring Program (CC). Students are expected to behave properly at all times, complete all schoolwork as assigned, and earn a “reward activity,” such as roller-skating or bowling. Students allowed to participate in the reward activity are those that exhibit appropriate character, behavior, and effort throughout the trimester as measured by classroom accountability reports. QL believes students should be rewarded not for doing what is expected of them, but for doing it well. Expectations and rigor are high at QL and students push themselves to succeed. While QL encourages high academic standards, it also clearly promotes specific moral and behavioral guidelines for its students. This is evidenced through the Character Education and Personal Responsibility (PR) Programs.

Since the inception of the PR program, along with assertive discipline models and the Peer Mediation Program, office referrals are almost non-existent, due to the fact that students are now self-governed. As a result of our many positive reinforcement models and declining trend of office referrals, school suspensions have gone down every year and no expulsions have occurred.

One unique model of QL is its “no cut” policy for sports. Rather than field just one team, teachers coach the “practice team” as adjunct duties to make sure the ALL students who wish to participate are given the chance to do so. This policy also extends to our students with a desire for civic education. All 4th- 8th grade students who want to participate in service to our school and community are invited to be part of the Service Learning Club. Rather than exclude an individual with the desire to serve, we include everyone who wants to participate. Our Service Learning Club made over 100 “pine cone turkeys” and delivered them to the Sanger Convalescent Home for Thanksgiving. They plan one service-learning project every month. These include knitting stocking hats for the homeless, care packages to Iraq, and so on. We are proud that our service club is a strong group of individuals working on the skills that will make them responsible and productive citizens in the community.

Staff and students reach out to the community and demonstrate empathy for those less fortunate by participating in our Make-a-Wish Campaign, Pennies for Patients, Holiday Joy Canned Food Drive, Coats for Kids, and Toys for Tots. The Garden Club has helped maintain the impressive Project Garden that beautifies the west side of the office. As the greenhouse and classroom gardens take shape, the goals for the 2008- 2009 school year include a Farmer’s Market to help support the club financially and the donation of some of the produce to our local Food Bank or Poverello House, whose missions are to feed the poor and homeless. QL has established partnerships with community-based resources and programs. One such partnership is the Make-a-Wish Foundation of Central California. Every year QL adopts a child from the Make-a-Wish foundation in an effort to help grant the wish of child with a life threatening illness. Our site was made aware of a 5th grade student from Wilson Elementary (SUSD) who was diagnosed with a brain tumor and needed financial assistance. A message was sent out asking that every student bring $1.00 each (trying to raise approximately $500.00). With one automated phone call, in a mere two days, our school raised over $1,800.00!

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Reagan Elementary School
Sanger Unified School District (233 students, Grades K- 5)
Sanger, Ca 93657
559-875-6521
Principal: Matt Navo

Reagan Elementary opened its doors for the first time as a brand new Sanger elementary school this 2007/ 2008 school year and simultaneously opened as a strong “Community of Caring” school. There are several components to the Reagan Community of Caring program that separate it from other similar programs and make it a valid character education program. The components are as follows: values across the curriculum, support for staff, student forums, family and community involvement, and service learning, all of which are driven by the coordinating committee’s action plan and site facilitator. At Reagan Elementary, initial implementation of the Community of Caring was facilitated by the staff’s willingness to implement and model these core values. From the beginning, staff members have worked to continue on going school awards for students who model core values, family night events and other activities to promote values not only with our students, but also with their families and community. The five values are displayed in both English and Spanish in each classroom and office at Reagan; our value banners are displayed in the cafeteria to remind everyone of our focus on character education.

Each day begins with a student council member reading over the intercom an excerpt from Project Wisdom which encourages all students to demonstrate good character throughout the day. That student also leads the entire school in the flag salute every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Students are also reminded of the value we are focusing on and informed of any upcoming Community of Caring or Fun Works activities. “Caught Caring” pencils and “Caught with Character” tickets are given by all the staff to students who demonstrate positive character traits throughout the day in the classroom, on the playground, in the library, and in the cafeteria. Each classroom displays a Community of Caring Chart which displays the students who have demonstrated each of the five values for each trimester. Monthly award assemblies and Trimester award assemblies are a time where reading, math, and Community of Caring awards are given recognizing outstanding character and academic achievements of our students. Students have the opportunity to achieve a bronze sticker, a silver ribbon, and a gold medallion for maintaining the five values throughout each trimester. We are in the process of initiating our peer mediation program, where students work with other students to solve problems and differences. Our good Sportsmanship medals are awarded at each sporting event by our athletes and cheerleaders to one member of an opposing team whom our students feel has demonstrated great character. These are some examples of how we support our Community of Caring values.

The Community of Caring program calls for service learning and is an integral part of our program. In the fall, our school collected money for the southern California fire victims. During our Happy Feet collection month we gathered socks and shoes for needy students. In November our caring Reagan community held a very successful food drive in which we provided five needy families the supplies for a Thanksgiving meal: two huge boxes of food with a frozen turkey for each family. In December we adopted three needy families and featured our first ever Caring Hands Christmas Tree in which “hands” with “wishes” of family members were displayed. Reagan students, parents, and staff chose “hands” and bought Christmas gifts for 33 needy family members. January is our Winter Wear Collection in which we are collecting jackets; February is our Food from the Heart canned food drive. Students will also be making valentines to be given to residents of the Sanger Convalescent Hospital. March is our Book Drive in conjunction with Read Across America. April is Seeds of Kindness month with a focus on random acts of kindness in which each class will be creating a journal/ scrapbook of their experiences to be shared. We will also be having a Community Service Saturday in which staff, students, and families will be planting spring flowers to beautify our school. This will be part of our Earth Day celebration. In May we will be making Shoeboxes for Soldiers.

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Red Bank Elementary School
Clovis Unified School District (708 Students, Grades K-6)
Clovis, Ca 93619
559-327-7800
Principal: Kevin Peterson

A comprehensive co-curricular program, including interscholastic competitions in athletics, chorus, band, drama, Oral Interpretation, Science Olympiad, and a variety of poster and essay contests are made available to students. Students are also encouraged to participate in student leadership and government. The activities are designed and administered to teach skills and provide a vehicle to develop positive character traits. Students are allowed to experience success and failure in many contexts, as well as address issues relating to values.

Classrooms focused on being honest in making decisions as part of our two week Red Ribbon Week celebration. All of the students participated in the Too Good for Drugs educational program. This program emphasizes the values of honesty, courage, discipline, accountability, and making successful choices.

A series of tapes by Linda and Richard Eyre, Teaching Your Children Values are available for teachers to use within their classrooms. One tape is geared towards helping adults and the other is a dramatization about a little boy (Alexander) and his tortoise (Theo) internalizing valuable lessons for life. Inside/ Out A whole-person education approach to health and safety is also used in Red Bank classrooms. This program was provided by State Farm Insurance Companies. It includes a video and a series of lessons with activities for K-6 instruction.

Students learn to evaluate situations and make positive and constructive decisions as they examine events. A greater understanding and tolerance of student diversity is manifested throughout the school language arts, writing, and social science curriculum. The integration of character education with district and California State Standards is a fun combination at Red Bank.

Red Bank Elementary School provides students the opportunities for moral action and character development through total curriculum integration of character education. Red Bank Elementary provides students opportunities to be involved in community service efforts by such activities as: Adopting soldiers in Iraq and writing them letters as well as filling shoe boxes with items such as razors, beef jerky, soap, gum, candy, shaving cream and other items from home. These shoeboxes are then shipped to service men and women in Iraq. Annually Red Bank staff and students participate in the Fresno Bee sponsored Kids’ Day.

Our third grade classes organize a community service project that raises funds for the Burn Foundation. Third grade classrooms sell goodies at lunch recess to raise money to help send a burn victim to Champ Camp.

Another community service project organized by a sixth grade class is Pennies for Scholarship. This community service project collects pennies and fund raises through a car wash during the year to provide a Clovis High School student, who is a former Red Back student, with a scholarship.

A school-wide community service project benefits the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society- Pennies for Patients. Each classroom had a box to collect coins in. The collection lasts approximately a month. Red Bank teachers, staff, administration, students and community are involved, for the sixth year, in the American Cancer Society for community awareness, research and patient outreach. Red Bank has two teams comprised of staff members and friends that have been formed in Honor of Patty Negrete- a former Red Bank teacher who lost her battle with breast cancer. The Relay Teams, named Patty’s Pals, have won fundraising, spirit and participation awards every year that they have been involved in the Relay. In addition to the two Patty’s Pals teams, there are other Relay teams that have been formed by Red Bank parents, community members or students.

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Riverview Elementary School
Clovis Unified School District (649 Students, Grades K-6)
Fresno, Ca 92730
599-327-8600
Principal: Kristie Wiens

Instruction is the critical work of Riverview’s educators in attaining the primary goal associated with student achievement. This goal is accomplished through relevant curriculum, alignment between what is taught and tested, teacher training focused on powerful lessons, and instructional supervision model, which assures student learning everyday in all classrooms, and appropriate assessments which guide instruction.

Riverview continues to integrate the CHARACTER COUNTS! pillars into the curriculum to develop students of character. Each staff member helps students develop self-confidence, exercise good decision-making, and establish patterns of behavior that display the values modeled in the CHARACTER COUNTS! program. A student of character is one who lives by the six pillars by being a good person, someone to look up to and admire, thinking right and doing right, knowing the difference between right and wrong, setting a good example for others, and making the world a better place. Riverview’s focus correlates with the district’s aim to develop individuals who, through their actions and conduct, display ethical behavior considered to be positive examples of character.

Riverview staff members link the pillars to daily choices, a “common language” for everyone on campus, and infuse the pillars into the curriculum.

This process begins in September when teachers and the administrative team discuss the Parent/ Student Handbook in which rules and expected behavior are discussed. Teachers review and discuss the rules and expectations outlined in the handbook with students. The first month is dedicated to establishing the behavior climate of the classroom. This is reinforced through classroom visits from the administrative team, clear posting of school expectations, and the six pillars of CHARACTER COUNTS!

The principal visits each class periodically throughout the year to encourage ethical decision-making. The Riverview Rules are reinforced: Remember Character Counts!, Always personal best, Meet your goals, Success for all. These rules guide children through the educational process and form the structure for all student interactions throughout the school year.

Block R Exemplary Ram Award- Riverview’s highest award is the Block R. It is awarded to students who display well-rounded achievement and participation in the Riverview academic, co-curricular, and community service activities. Students must earn points in the various categories to demonstrate their ability, dedication, and responsibility in earning this award. This requires long-term focus to plan and excel each semester. Each student receives a personalized plaque with gold medallions included for each semester. A special evening celebration is held in honor of the recipients.

Commitment to Character Award- A bi-weekly award is designed to recognize students from each class who exemplify the monthly pillar of CHARACTER COUNTS! The student recipients are acknowledged on the morning announcements, honored as a group, and then individually in their classroom, receiving a special certificate and CHARACTER COUNTS! pencil, bookmark, or button. Students’ names are published in the school newsletter, “The Rams Report.”

Ram of the Month- Students from each kindergarten class are recognized monthly for exemplifying pillars of CHARACTER COUNTS! Students are honored in their classrooms and receive a special certificate along with a Baskin Robbins gift certificate. Photos are taken and posted in each classroom. Students’ names are published each month in the school’s weekly newsletter, “The Rams Report.”

Personal Responsibility Program (PRP)- Riverview students have the opportunity to earn the PRP award and to participate in a special quarterly celebration (i.e. swimming, bowling, skating, or movie party.) Students must have good classroom & playground behavior, complete their homework, be on time for school, respect school/ district rules, and always do their personal best. A majority of Riverview students earn this award several times throughout the year.

Cafeteria Star Program- The Cafeteria Star Program acknowledges aspects of a responsible school environment; each classroom works together as a team in the areas of cafeteria cleanliness and behavior each day to earn the highest rating of a star.

School Assemblies- A variety of assemblies throughout the year are chosen to promote the school goals as they pertain to the character traits. Paul Tracey’s Character Assembly, Good Company Players Value Show, California State University sponsored assembly “Devin’s Hurt”, Sierra Chamber Opera Presentation of “Good Choices”, and various Character Education presentations to encourage class discussions and reflections on the important qualities of good character values.

Class Meetings- Teachers and students facilitate class meetings consistently to reflect on weekly classroom issues, concerns, and positives. Every classroom and grade level employs curricular strategies and classroom rules to prepare students to work and live together harmoniously.

United Nations of Riverview has developed over the past three years and includes students from grades 4-6 representing the diverse cultural groups at our school. Students along with their parents attend quarterly dinner meetings which include a multicultural presentation by parents and community members. (Examples: Hispanic Art Presentation with special Mayo Dancers, Power Point on Highlights from India, Chinese New Year Presentation along with special Chinese Fan Dancers, etc.)

Campus Beautification teamwork has become an integral part of school service at Riverview organized by the attendance secretary and health aide. Periodically throughout the school year students and their parents volunteer to plant flowers on the campus to keep Riverview looking beautiful.

Ram Team includes approximately 25 students who have been trained to serve on the peer conflict management team coordinated by the school nurse.

Game Day at the School Physical Education Program is being implemented for the first time this year which integrates physical fitness with the CHARACTER COUNTS! Pillars.

Character Counts! Awards Luncheon “Pursuing Victory with Honor” is a venue created with the opening of the new Clovis North Area last year. At the conclusion of each athletic season, Riverview selects two student athletes from each sport who exemplify the CHARACTER COUNTS! pillars to be honored at a Clovis North Area Character Counts! Awards Luncheon “Pursuing Victory with Honor.”

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Sanger Academy Charter School
Sanger Unified School District (520 Students, Grades K- 8)
Sanger, Ca 93657
559-875-5562
Principal: Ken Garcia

Sanger Academy Charter School’s (SACS) charter is based on the philosophy of educating the whole child by promoting core values of honesty, integrity, trust, and the pursuit of academic excellence. Because SACS is a charter school, students, parents and teachers, as stakeholders, have a commitment to uphold the standards of the charter through a signed compact agreement. The SACS compact is an agreement between school, parent, and student designed to optimize the potential for the student’s success. This document provides an accountability element for all stakeholders.

Several projects highlighting the positive character and community mindedness of SACS’ students completed recently were: “Happy Feet” (a donation event raise shoes and socks for the needy); a canned food drive to benefit local homeless shelters; and “Pennies for Peru” to raise money for earthquake victims. In addition, SACS’ students visit and perform at the local convalescent hospital and support the Central California Blood Center through local activities. Fresno County Office of Education operates a site for the students with severe handicaps on the campus of SACS and SACS’ students play an integral role in the mainstreaming and social interaction of these peers. Students at SACS are respectful, committed, and civic minded.

When walking onto SACS campus, the feeling is one of professionalism and structure. Classes are orderly and focused on academic state standards. Teachers are professionally dressed, friendly, and welcoming. Students are uniformly dressed, polite, and happy. Parents are welcomed and feel comfortable on campus. SACS is clean and well maintained. Murals representing Community of Caring values and SACS logos are visible throughout the campus. Students proudly wear SACS logos on clothing and backpacks. There is a sense of pride among students and staff. Awards are prominently displayed in the office, and banners hang from aloft in the cafeteria proclaiming SACS’ rich history of achievement.

Physical Education (PE) is a part of daily life as well as a subject taught at SACS. SACS is ahead of the health guidelines, having eliminated sugary snacks and soda from the campus and vending machines. “Los Tenis” is a physical education program developed by the SACS physical education teacher as a fun way to promote a healthy lifestyle and show that physical fitness is a way of life. Through the club, students come to school 40 minutes early for jump rope, walking, and friendship. Students proudly wear their pedometers to see how many feet they travel each day. On Fridays, students spiritedly wave flags and march the perimeter of SACS to show their commitment to a healthy lifestyle. SACS staff and students participate in the annual “Walk to School” to promote walking as a form of healthy transportation.

Professionalism is an expectation at SACS. Teachers are expected to approach their position with respect and students are expected to participate fully in their education. The grounds at SACS are always clean and inviting to students, community members, and staff. Graffiti is not tolerated and removal is a top priority. The principal and staff members, leading by example, promptly remove trash and litter. All members of the SACS family embrace a sense of ownership and responsibility. Visibility is an important practice embraced by all staff members at SACS. The principal and staff are highly visible on campus during all times of transition and socializing. Staff members can be found greeting students and families both before and after school, in hallways, the office, and classrooms.

In developing the social health of students, Associated Student Body (ASB) offers students the opportunity to collaborate with each other and take leadership positions. ASB is charged with many responsibilities including: daily announcements, rallies, and community service projects in collaboration with Community of Caring organizers (see Family and Community Partnerships section). The Peer Mediation Program is another student organization where students are trained in conflict management and mediation. Peer mediators receive training in the specific skills needed to solve problems and learn how to work with fellow students who are engaged in a dispute. Teachers coordinate both programs as an adjunct duty.

Diversity is fostered and celebrated at SACS. During Music and Art instruction students learn the cultural implications of Art and Music through projects such as “El Dia de los Muertos.”

All students at SACS are expected to participate in at least one activity either during the school day, or before or after school. This level of participation and representation is due to the support of both teachers and parents who devote their time to co-curricular programs, as well as to the students who do the work to be successful. Annually, SACS teachers compete in Mud Volleyball to support the March of Dimes charity, and SACS hosts blood drives with the Central California Blood Bank.

SACS offers numerous co-curricular activities to inspire students in the practical application of what they learn: History Day, Science Fair, PTA Reflections, Science Olympiad, the JASON Project, Math-a-Thon, Los Tenis, Peach Blossom, Honor Band, Chess Club, Art Club, Spelling Bee, Talent Show, Young Author’s Faire and Student Government are available for student participation. PTA Reflections participation is very high, with 250 participants in 2007 competing in Art, Music Composition, Photography, Video, and Literature. Ongoing co-curricular programs also supporting classroom instruction include Jog-a-Thon and Reading Incentives.

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Sierra View Elementary School
Golden Valley Unified School District (355 Students, Grades K-6)
Madera, Ca 93636
559-645-1122
Principal: Scott Tefft

Students demonstrating outstanding character are recognized daily with Character Counts! Tickets and Character Bucks, during weekly Friday morning Character Announcements with weekly Panther of the Week awards, and at trimester awards with CHARACTER COUNTS! Student of the Month awards. Photos in the office proudly display Monthly Character Counts! award winners, while banners in the gymnasium and a student generated/ painted mural on the outside of Sierra View’s 700 wing proudly display the six pillars of Character Counts! and communicate Sierra View’s commitment to these core values! At the end of the school year the Character Counts! Student of the Year award recognizes the student chosen by their peers as being the one individual who has best epitomized all the Pillars of Character throughout the year. The recipient is recognized in front of their peers, family, and community members at a year-end awards ceremony and is given a trophy and other prizes.

While maintaining high expectations and standards, a strong emphasis is place on infusing character education into all curricular areas. Under the guidance of a dedicated, caring staff, Sierra View students experience daily that goals are achievable through proper preparation and good character. Student academic achievement, the number of referrals and suspensions, attendance, and the number of students at risk for retention are monitored closely to ascertain whether or not school-wide goals are being met in the area of character education.

Sierra View also has weekly Character Counts! electives each Friday. The electives include instruction in Ceramics/ Pottery, Puppetry, Art, Tessellations, Crime Lab, Leather Working, and Fossils. Students earn this privilege by exemplifying all the pillars of Character by behavior referrals or office referrals during the week.

A weekly student generated newsletter highlights Character Counts! and keeps the community informed. The Sierra View Student Council, a committee made up of elected student leaders representing Sierra View Student Council, a committee made up of elected student leaders representing Sierra View’s diverse student population, meets once a week to discuss ways to improve student relationships, school wide systems, and to plan and implement community service projects. This year the Sierra View Student Council coordinated a Holiday Food Drive and The Coats for Kids Program.

A school-wide code of behavior is clearly spelled out to staff and students and is consistent from classroom to classroom. At Sierra View the culture of Character and enthusiasm permeates all we do and supports the school wide vision of “Making the World a Better Place One Child at a Time.” Excellence in Virtue and Character begins with organization and planning. A first day of school assembly that focuses on Sierra View’s Core Values, Character, and Virtue, helps set the tone and communicate expectations for the entire year.

Students are recognized for a number of character achievements. Students are awarded for their Responsibility in attending school on a regular basis. Perfect Attendance certificates are awarded to those students achieving “perfect attendance”. The highly coveted “Student of the Month” or “Character Counts!” award is given to the students displaying outstanding character.

Sierra View School believes that leaders are not born. Instead, Sierra View believes that leaders are the result of learning and practicing outstanding leadership skills. In the Student Council, students learn that good leaders have: self-control, a sense of fair play, the ability to make decisions and to plan, the courage to stand before their peers, a strong work ethic, and the ability to get along with others. The Student Council is responsible for: planning school fund raising, organizing special events, planning incentive/ recognition programs for students, Character Counts! rallies, coordinating the Clean Campus Program, and school-wide communication of ASB-sponsored events. Sierra View’s staff works hard to promote positive social development and group cohesion. Really, it is embedded into nearly everything we do!

Analysis of novels and short stories often include character studies and the assessment of ethical choices that impact the theme of the literature. Students are encouraged to relate the lessons being studied to their own life experiences. Examples include Holes, Hatchet, Tuck Everlasting, The Outsiders, Where the Red Fern Grows.

Character education is infused throughout the day at Sierra View. Whether it’s morning announcements to kick off the day, addressing choices while in the cafeteria or on the playground, talking with kids in the principal’s office about Respect, Citizenship, or Trustworthiness in the wake of poor choices, rewarding kids with Character Bucks to be spent in the Character Counts! Store for positive choices, and so much more, Sierra View makes a significant effort to promote our core values in all we do.

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Teague Elementary School
Central Unified School District (698 Students, Grades K- 6)
Fresno, CA 93722
559-276-5260
Principal: Ann J. Chavez

Teague students live by the seven words that are present everywhere from awards to t-shirts to campus signage “Building Confidence, Building Character, and Building Community. It is these three areas that make for a well-rounded member of society. During the summer months our principal, Mrs. Ann J. Chavez, begins mailing out community newsletters that deal with all things from community expectations (homework, student behavior, and what is expected from everyone) to helpful parenting/ character tips and The Teague Student Effort Pledge. The night before school begins we host a Meet and Greet which takes the place of a traditional Back to School Night. During this evening each grade level has a booth setup with grade level materials, field trip calendars, supply needs and Teague’s Student Effort Pledge. This pledge is reviewed with parents. Teachers and administrators answer any questions parents have. At the beginning of the new school year, Mrs. Chavez visits classrooms to talk with students about Teague’s Student Effort Pledge. The pledge contains a Recognition Policy (Academic and Athletics), a Behavior Policy, Homework Policy, and a Home School Compact that outlines the role every community member has to support the student in their education. This time is spent making sure students are aware of the choices they have each day and the responsibility that comes with them. Mrs. Chavez displays all the awards a student can earn then describes what a student must do to be honored.

The highest honor and most difficult achievement that a student can earn at Teague is the Noble Knight Award. A student must earn an award from each area of the Awards Matrix to be eligible; high standards, positive citizenship and life-long learning. (Based upon Teague’s School Mission). The student must also be in good standing with no suspensions or attendance issues. This award is a motivating factor in the choices kids make at Teague.

The 2 X 10 program is a way for all staff members to get to know many kids from all levels. For two minutes ten days in a row the staff member will find a child that they get to know. The daily conversations are about anything that helps the relationship develop. This one-on-one connection gives that student a comfortable face to go to in a time of need. The administration holds “counseling” sessions with kids on a regular basis. During these sessions we explore life plans. During this time kids begin to explore what they want to be when they grow up.

At Teague character education is delivered before during and after school and by everyone the student comes in contact with. On any given day students are greeted by both administrators as they arrive on campus with a smile, a polite greeting, and their name. At Teague, the staff strives to learn every kid’s name and at least one thing about them. We greet them each morning and as part of the morning ritual, so that we build the trust and can be there to help start the day on the right foot.

The morning starts with Mrs. Chavez reading the morning announcements and reading a practical passage from the Project Wisdom program that we use. The message for each day asks a question of the student, provides a real life example, provides a simple explanation of how that fits into their life and then leaves them with “... the choice to is yours...” Teachers hold small informal discussion groups and use these messages for journal topics. Students are counseled during discipline incidents using these messages as a basis to begin the conversation.

Character Education is taught on a regular basis during the regular school day. One of the programs used is “Too Good for Drugs”. This program not only focuses on drug use prevention it also promotes character and good choices. During the mini-lessons students are given real life examples of dangerous situations and how they can be kept safe.

One of the most exciting programs that begun at Teague is the “Victory Medal”. This is a program that was started by Mrs. Chavez, the school principal, because she noticed the poor sportsmanship and win-at-any-cost attitude that has permeated even youth sports. She wanted a way for students to leave the field and everyone, including spectators, to leave feeling positive. Her idea was to have kids gather at the end of the game to present a medal to the opposition’s athlete who displayed positive sportsmanship throughout the contest. The idea took just a few minutes for coaches at Teague to agree and to meet with their teams and describe what character on the field looked like, felt like and sounded like. They also had a clear picture about who would not receive the award. Names such as Terrell Owens and Chad Johnson were the first names from the athletes’ mouths. As this program evolved, it quickly became the standard for all elementary and middle schools in our district. Families now leave on a positive note and not with the sting and embarrassment of defeat. Kids respect the game, the opponent, and the ref because they want to be recognized at the end of the game. Parents have commented that “sports have taken on a different meaning” and “my kid forgets the final score and only remembers who had that medal placed around their neck.” This award is not about the MVP but rather the Most Character Present.

Learn by doing is very important part of teaching character at Teague. Service learning projects like our Campus Cleanup days, Pollution Patrol or Library Helpers teach by action. Holiday Joy, The Sleeping Bag Project or The Center for Non-Violence collections have taught kids to look for ways to help others in the community. Many students thought only the “rich” could help, but learning that with 50 cents many kids could donate shampoo or toothpaste spoke volumes. Selling Kid’s Day Newspapers has been another service learning project that students at Teague have been involved in. We collected “Coins for Katrina” during the hurricanes in New Orleans. Holiday Joy is another way we give back to the community.

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Promising Practices from the 2006 Virtues and Character Award Winning Schools

(Excerpts from the applications)

 

Burton Elementary School

Burton Elementary School District
2375 W. Morton Ave.
Porterville, CA 93257
559-784-2401
Principal: Michelle Pengilly

During the past five years, Burton Elementary School’s deep-rooted commitment to the Character Counts! Program has been evident in its academic, social, and extracurricular activities. The Burton educational team, along with parents and community members, has articulated the core values and principles they desire to see developed in the students. A common language is utilized that enables the students to connect the program traits with everyday actions and beliefs. Burton Elementary School believes that the values and associated traits of Character Counts! provide the kind of comprehensive character education that enables their students to not only be exemplary students but also productive and meaningful citizens of the community.

The team approach to character education found at Burton Elementary School has strengthened the school in other areas as well. This is evidenced in the success of school-based projects such as campus beautification, after school interventions, and overall academic achievement. Burton Elementary School is seen by parents, family members, and the community as a school devoted to the development of academic and moral intelligences in its student body.

Classrooms are adorned with visual aids implementing the pillars of Character Counts! and a common, student-friendly language is used to identify the characteristics of virtue in each pillar. Student assemblies recognize students for their random acts of kindness, their helpfulness, and display of good character. Each month students are recognized for exemplifying the characteristics of a chosen pillar and are honored by having their name and picture placed in honor among their peers. The monthly pillar is clearly displayed for the community to see on the school marquee and parents are encouraged to target the pillar at home.

During the time which Burton Elementary School has been involved with the Character Counts! Program, the program has been integrated into every facet of the school. This is evident by academic growth, a decrease in negative behavior situations, and an upsurge in student and family involvement in extracurricular activities.

Many Burton classes employ a democratic system of classroom government and students learn to have a voice in determining what is acceptable behavior in and outside of the classroom. They also help to articulate the discipline associated with poor decision making and define the desired rewards for exemplary behavior. Students working in cooperative groups are taught how to support one another, how to respectfully disagree without being insensitive, and how to acknowledge the value of each member’s involvement. Burton students are taught that the classroom is a community and each member of the community is valued and honored. Students are given many opportunities to be leaders on the campus. This is evident in those students who give up precious recess time to tutor a classmate having difficulty, monitor the hallways for student safety, serve in the school library, help in lower grade level classrooms, or spend time with students unable to run and play on the playground with other schoolmates.

In addition to the curriculum, students from all grade levels are involved in campus beautification projects, nature learning experiences, recycling programs, and charity fundraisers. Students are able to see firsthand how their involvement and dedication can impact the world around them. From the release of butterflies carefully tended to in the classroom to the raising of money for a worthwhile cause, Burton students are actively engaged in good character development and this proactive approach to character education has been a strong factor in the success seen at school.

Many of the beneficial projects on campus are carried out by students, staff and family members working together. The students are not passive participants, but are engaged in the process. Students at Burton Elementary School have raised thousands of dollars over the past several years to benefit Pennies for Patients. Students have adopted a young person suffering from debilitating disease, such as leukemia, and have stood in the parking lot before school to raise money for the program. Many students have donated their snack or pencil money to a charitable fundraiser not to seek praise and recognition, but rather feel that sense of pleasure in knowing they have helped someone less fortunate. Students gain a sense of self-esteem when they are able to participate in such meaningful projects because they are empowered. They recognize that their efforts, however small or large, impact the world around them.

Burton Elementary School is a K-4 school nestled against the foothills at the gate of the Sequoia National Forest. Its student population is 580 students strong. The Character Counts! Program has been an instrument of change for the campus over the past several years, as greater strength and focus has emerged through its implementation. The program has been a significant part of the school environment and has helped to shape the mission of the school.

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Centerville Elementary School
Sanger Unified School District (305 Students, K-6)
Sanger, CA 93657
559-787-2511
Principal: Lisa Houston

Centerville participates in the district Community of Caring program because we believe that self-esteem is critical to the development of the whole child. We became a “Community of Caring School” during the 2003-2004 school year. Community of Caring is a character-building program founded by Eunice Kennedy Shriver.

Our school continually sponsors events that value the importance of families being involved in the school’s efforts to develop students of good character. Our big kick-off event to set the stage for the school year is an ice cream social that is free to all families in our school community. The staff, teachers, and PTA all worked together to create an environment that welcomes everyone. The purpose of the event is to develop our sense of community and to realize we all have a part in our children’s development as citizens. We continue this idea of community throughout the year, with activities such as: family nights, community service projects, campus beautification, rallies and assemblies.

Perhaps the most important part of our vision is that “committed people can change the world.” We are a community school. As the hub of the community, Centerville is a place where families and community members gather regularly to support, celebrate and honor the diverse achievements of all our children.

As a school site we concentrate on one value for a two-month period. Each classroom has grade level appropriate literature and videos that exemplify each of the five character traits. Each classroom teacher goes above and beyond the district-required activities to design and teach lessons that are appropriate for the needs of their individual classroom. Our student council plans activities for our weekly school meeting around the flagpole that unite our school as a Community of Caring. The activities range from songs, to skits, and even famous quotes that inspire us all to be better community members.

Centerville values healthy choices by providing quality school sports program for both boys and girls. It is not unusual to see the community enjoying our playgrounds, courts for basketball and open fields for soccer, football, and baseball on the weekends and evenings. Our campus in the country and we have no vandalism or graffiti. We show support for the people that need our facilities and they show respect for the school site. It is part of our community team concept.

Centerville students have adopted needy families in our community. This year, we are working closely with a family who lost their home due to fire. Last year, a class adopted a family for the holidays and later nominated them to a television show for home renovation. Currently we have a fifth grade class that has taken on the responsibility of a quarterly service-learning project. This project has the students go out into the community and help the elderly.

We at Centerville have also collected money for our local children’s hospital, hurricane and tsunami victims and participated in the “Dollars From Angels” campaign for the Chaffee Zoo. Other opportunities for collaborative projects including holiday food drives, Toys for Tots, Coats for Kids and periodic cleanup and tree plantings at our local China Creek Park. Fundraising events become community affairs and are strongly supported by staff, parents and community members.

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Fancher Creek Elementary School
Clovis Unified School District (766 Students, K-6)
Fresno, CA 93727
559-327-6700
Principal: Rosie Rivera-Borjas

Fancher Creek’s mission is “Building Dreams” to ensure every child the opportunity to “Dream, Dream Big and Make It Happen!” Our overall vision, “Building a Culture of Excellence”, focuses on our mission. We will reach this goal by teaching to the standards, frameworks, and performance levels while providing support, guidance, and educational opportunities for our diverse population. Our mission is achieved through a true TEAM (Together Everyone Achieves More) partnership known as our Power Triad.

Our TEAM vision is built on the research-based Baldridge Core Values. These values emphasize partnership development that acknowledges the overall diversity of our students and community, are result oriented, and strive for continual learning and improvement. This partnership develops the school vision, goals, and priorities based upon the state standards and performance levels. The partners provide input into the Single School Plan and the Local Education Agency Plan. This collaboration reflects the entire community and sets goals and priorities and establishes standards to develop a well-rounded student in the areas of academic competence (mind), physical fitness (body), and positive character traits (spirit), the cornerstone of Clovis Unified School District’s Sparthenian concept. This years theme, “Raising the Bar”, challenges every TEAM member of our Title 1 school to reach the next level of academic, physical, and character success.

We instill socially appropriate behavior by integrating outside sources into our curriculum. Ron Clark’s The Essential 55 is used to teach and reinforce appropriate rules of etiquette, modeled by teachers. A school wide “Character Message of the Week”, based on this and the “Pyramid of Success” from Coach John Wooden’s Inch and Miles: The Journey to Success, is emailed out to the staff at the start of each week. Teachers explain, model and promote class discussion centered on these messages. Journal writing and role playing reinforce these lessons. These messages are broadcast by students at the daily flag salute, sent home in the weekly calendar, and reinforced during Fun Friday announcements.

Taking a proactive approach to instilling proper manners, the staff made it their goal for every student to learn the names of and properly greet all adults on staff. There is a concentrated effort to teach every student to make eye contact, speak in complete sentences, and respond appropriately when addressed. The third grade team led the way in instituting specific Essential 55 behaviors in their classrooms. This is manifested in how students answer phones, greet visitors to their classrooms, and interact with adults and each other in other rooms. Students are also expected to greet and thank cafeteria workers everyday, as well as be responsible for cleaning up after themselves and maintaining appropriate behavior during meals.

The Principal meets bi-monthly with the Student Relations Council, a diverse group of upper grade students who also serve as peer mediators. They meet to discuss any racial or discrimination problems that may be occurring on campus. This group visits primary classrooms to present skits on bullying and teasing. They also initiate discussions on peer relations and appropriate interactions in the upper grade classes.

Community connections and family relationships are strengthened by events and activities such as: Father/Daughter Dance, Muffins with Mom, Donuts with Dad, and Grandparents Luncheon. These connections are reinforced by various outreach activities that are initiated as a result of the collaboration of our Power Triad: Cash for Covers, Hurricane Katrina Relief Fundraising, community food drives, and presentations by community members. Our PTC reaches out through events that invite community participation including: Flapjacks for Jackets, Carnival, and Santa Shop. We encourage community volunteers and most classrooms have them, including parents for whom English is not their primary language.

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Francis J. White Learning Center
Woodlake Union Elementary School District (531 Students, K-2)
Woodlake, CA 93286
559-564-8021
Principal: J. Terrence Keller

F.J. Learning Center is a Kindergarten through second grade school of approximately 531 students in the Woodlake Union School District. The administration and staff of F.J. White believe that the primary years of a students' education are a vital time in a child’s life to develop a sound academic foundation with important citizenship values such as self-respect and self esteem. When a child begins to develop self-esteem in kindergarten through second grade, that child has a greater chance to be successful as they grow older and mature. The staff believes a vital component of that process is that individual success should be encouraged, recognized and celebrated.

In order to successfully implement the process of building self-esteem and recognizing student achievement, the staff has used a recognition program called the “Tiger Cub of the Week” where students may be recognized for good decision making and improvement in their classrooms. That program is also enhanced with Student of the Month awards. Beginning with the 2005-2006 school year an additional citizenship component was added to the second grade due to a partnership with the local Kiwanis Club. Each year the Kiwanis Club of Woodlake adopts the second grade in the form of support for classrooms and sponsorship participation on the school’s annual celebration on Dr. Seuss’ birthday.

Parents are encouraged to be involved in their child’s education through service on various school committees, volunteering in the classroom and participation in activities such as “Second Cup of Coffee”, “Raisin Readers”, where students and their parents attend an evening reading night in the school library and receive information about the school’s reading program, read with their children and are treated to raisins and Family Math Nights.

The pillars of Character Counts! are reinforced in the classroom through a variety of activities including daily recitation of the flag salute, mini lessons on the values promoted by Character Counts! and encouragement of positive behavior in the classroom and out on the playground by teachers and aides. The site principal also uses the pillars as part of discussions with students who may be referred to the office while he is visiting student break times.

The staff works tirelessly to promote a positive school climate. Students and parents arriving on campus are greeted with a cheery “GOOD MORNING” by the school’s staff including the principal. The school office celebrates student success and demonstration of the Character Counts! pillars by posting pictures of all “Students of the Month” in the front office along with pictures of school events and copies of newspaper articles about the school and students who have appeared in the Visalia Times-Delta’s “CHARACTER COUNTS!” feature. The facilitator of the school reading program contributes to the positive school climate by organizing events such as the “ Eye Glass Club” for children who wear glasses, year end swim party for students who have demonstrated the pillar of Responsibility by completing their reading homework throughout the year, quarterly “Lunch with the Principal” for those students completing their reading homework for the month.

An example of the caring that is instilled in students came in the form of an idea submitted to the principal several years ago by a second grade student following the attacks on the World Trade buildings in New York. Students brought toys from home that were resold to students at the school. The money raised by that activity was presented to the American Red Cross for the funds of the victims and their families of that tragedy. The school has an ongoing partnership with the local Kiwanis Club with several staff members being a part of that organization.

The pillars of CHARACTER COUNTS! serve as important parts of that effort. A poster outside of the principal’s office says, “Our School is a Great Place to Learn.” Academics and positive traits like those in Character Counts! are stressed in a positive safe and nurturing environment.

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James K. Polk Elementary School
Central Unified School District (600 students, K-6)
Fresno, Ca 93722
559-274-9780
Principal: Karen Garlick

In the summer of 2004, and before the school officially opened, our principal, Mrs. Garlick met with staff, the Parent-Faculty club, School Site Council and Community stakeholders to develop a mission statement that would embody the vision of this new school honed from the passion of people setting out together to develop the best school possible for our students. We researched the concept of a Professional Learning Community developed by Rick DuFour and let his work guide us in developing the mission statement. We were also influenced by the intense desire to create a school that would serve the needs of the students not only academically, but develop in our students, leadership skills, and a strong character and civic responsibility. Out of this rich discussion and research came a mission statement that we live on a daily basis:

The mission of James K. Polk Elementary School, in partnership with families and the community, is to develop a professional learning community with high standards and expectations for all, providing a comprehensive educational program which values and is responsive to the individual, collectively empowering students with skills that manifest life-long learning, and fosters civic responsibility.

In order to live our mission statement, Polk Elementary set out to establish a forward thinking relationship with our Special Education Department. We implemented full inclusion at our school and currently include SDC students in grades 1-6th in our regular education classes with support from the SDC staff.

Polk’s core ethical values are clearly set forth at the start of the school year to students, staff, parents, and the school community. They are articulated at Back to School Night during the assembly for parents. School-wide discipline assemblies are held at the beginning of the school year at each grade level for students in order to review our positive discipline system. Our discipline system has been strongly influenced by the Fresno County Office of Education’s Leadership Academy developed by Jim Coiner and the Dare to Dream program developed by John Minkler and others. Our students are taught to fail-forward when they make a mistake. Success is built upon failure, if we analyze and learn from our mistakes. Therefore, our discipline philosophy is not punitive, but instead an opportunity for our students to learn.

Polk’s Character Value of the Month is published in our student agendas with activities to facilitate student understanding and reflective thinking about the monthly character trait and its importance in developing a good citizen. The Character Value of the Month is also published and articles appear on student activities in The Polk Pioneer Press which is published weekly for the Polk community. Our Polk Pioneers of the Month are celebrated for their good character, accomplishments, and effort during a monthly luncheon sponsored by our Parent-Faculty Club. Students are selected by their teacher and fellow classmates to be recognized.

The Character Value of the Month is also the subject each morning of the Polk Morning Announcements. Students from the sixth grade classes produce this broadcast which includes special events of the day, birthdays, the weather report, cafeteria menu, the Words of Wisdom given by the principal, followed by the flag salute.

Miss Schindler’s first grade class reinforces character education with character plays performed each year on Respect, Citizenship, and Character Counts!. In addition her class holds an appreciation circle at the close of each day to recall and state what happened in their day and what they appreciated. In Second grade, Mrs. Bergmann’s class writes their Book of Virtues, describing how students put the character traits into practice. In Mrs. Yates classroom, second graders display their good deeds on a “Character Tree” for all to see and learn.

Students in grades four through sixth participate in Polk Student Body to foster leadership skills and decision-making. Student Council meetings are held twice per month. Elections are held at the beginning of the year. Students go through a nomination process and campaign speeches are made before the election. Each class sends two representatives to student council.

Many opportunities exist at Polk for students to engage in moral actions. A prime example of this is a student leadership club, Dare to Dream, which is made up of twenty-five students from grades 4-6th who attend weekly meetings and participate in quarterly trainings at Scout Island hosted by the FCOE Dare to Dream trainers. Students learn the five stages of leadership. Under the motto, “You are what you practice.” Students work on team-building, communication, and service learning. They learn the importance of respect, responsibility, and resourcefulness. Here the concept of failing-forward is explored in depth. Students in Dare to Dream adopt yearly service projects to better their school and community. This year in addition to an extensive recycling project, Polk Dare to Dreamers are on stand-by with the Fresno Police Department to clean up graffiti in our area. Plans have been made to assist the Fresno Rescue Mission and the Craycroft Center for abused children this year. Students will be touring the facility and bringing in donations of food, clothing, and toys in the spring. A major drive supports Polk students in earning the President’s Volunteer Service award has been accomplished with Dare to Dream students making presentations in the classrooms to encourage students to participate. They are also honoring each student who donates fifty hours of service to their community with their photograph on a designated bulletin board.

Character education at Polk Elementary is embedded in the values and culture of the school. In living our mission statement, we strive daily to model professionalism, manners and morals. Our full inclusion model with an SDC program in grades 1-6 teaches our students tolerance and empathy for others. Respect, Responsibility and Resourcefulness, as well as the Five Stages of Leadership, and the concept of failing-forward are the foundation on which our school-wide philosophy of discipline is built.

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Jefferson Elementary School
Sanger Unified School District (377 Students, K-5)
Sanger, CA 93657
559-875-4591
Principal: Matt Navo

Jefferson Elementary has been a “Community of Caring” school since the 1996 school year. The program focuses on the five core values of Caring, Family, Respect, Trust and Responsibility and integrates these values throughout the core curriculum and along side school wide support programs.

There are several components to the Jefferson Community of Caring program that separates it from other similar programs and make it a valid character education program. The components are as follows: values across the curriculum, ongoing training and support for the staff, student forums, family and community involvement and service learning, all of which are driven by the coordinating committees action plan and site facilitators.

With the development of an action plan each year, the coordinating committee has been able to integrate character education through the school year. “Caught Caring” pencils and “Caught with Character” tickets are given to students who demonstrate positive character traits. Once a month we have a Monday morning flag pole announcement with the entire school. We recite the flag salute and students are reminded of the value we are focusing on and informed of any upcoming Community of Caring or fun work activities. Trimester award assemblies are a time where reading, math and Community of Caring awards are given recognizing outstanding character and achievements of our students. We have a peer mediation program, where students work with other students to solve problems and differences. These students carry a clipboard, wear special shirts and keep a log of all conflict resolutions that are resolved. These are some examples of how we support our Community of Caring values.

Jefferson focuses on each of the values for two months, we then rotate each value into our school year. As a school we also introduced the Essential 55, published by Ron Clark, Disney Teacher of the Year. Everyday, we introduce one of the Essential Rules to our student body. Throughout the day students could be asked by any staff member what the essential rule of the day is for the day. Our custodian, food service and support personnel all take an active role in making sure students are asked daily about which rule they learned that day. One of the expectations is that every teacher works with each Community of Caring value and Essential 55 rule to integrate it into their core instruction.

The staff at Jefferson uses several activities to promote positive social development, group cohesion, caring and respect for others. We have a “Golden Broom” program where classrooms take turns being responsible ensuring that our campus is kept clean. Classrooms and students take an active role in this responsibility, and they take their responsibility quite seriously. The Rotary Vocational Lunch Brunch Program brings a local Rotary member to our campus each week to speak with students during their lunchtime. The Rotarian shares information about their career, education and character traits necessary to become a productive adult.

For the past five years we have had our fifth and sixth grade students participate in a series of Etiquette Classes provided by Cynthia Merrill’s School of Performing Arts. Cynthia Merrill teaches our students how to appropriately introduce themselves, how to behave in a job interview, the importance of manners, and how to interact appropriately with others in a dance situation.

Jefferson Elementary has become the heart of its community. Our staff and student body have many activities that connect our community needs with our school. Over the course of several years Jefferson students have sold Kid’s Day Editions of the Fresno Bee to help raise money for Valley Children’s Hospital. Every year our student body raises money and collects cans for the needy during Christmas Holiday. During the first year of implementation of our program, our students painted holiday decorations on the windows of a local grocery store. Our younger students passed out flowers to the store’s customers. Every year our community benefits from the Jefferson Family Christmas Caroling, one of our many family night events.

Our students raised money for the Fresno Chaffee Zoo donating over $900.00. Our students sold candies for the Hurricane Katrina Victims raising over $3000.00 for the Red Cross. However the most impressive service-learning event came after the events of September 11th, our kids and staff conducted a five-day drive for the Red Cross. Students’ brought in their change and bills; often using what little money they had, to give to our cause. After one week, our students, families and staff raised over $1443.05. This process was filled with small miracles and heartfelt examples of students giving what little they had to help others.

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John Wash Elementary School
Sanger Unified School District (249 Students, K-6)
Fresno, CA 93727
559-251-7543
Principal: Wesley Sever

Many of the activities sponsored by Community of Caring at John Wash Elementary target the families of our students. We have conducted family nights such as Meet the Principal night at our local pizza parlor to celebrate family and friendship, our Halloween Carnival, our Grandparents’ Day, Barn Dances, Movie Nights, Donuts with Dad, Muffins with Mom, a Family Talent Show Night with dinner, McFamily/McTeacher night at our local McDonald’s, a staff, student, parent softball game and have celebrated Dr. Seuss’s Birthday together. These events promote family, fun, and educational events such as our Drug Awareness Night where we had a detective speak to parents about drugs and the dangers of them. Children were also invited to attend with their parents.

We are fortunate to have an all school opening every morning on our blacktop. At these openings, the students are reminded of the character value of the month. We also come together at this time as a family when the principal asks, “Who’s a Tiger?” and the students respond, “I’m a Tiger!” Monthly award assemblies are a time when reading and math awards are given. Each teacher gives a Student of the Month award where a student is recognized for embodying the value of the month in an outstanding fashion. Plaques are awarded to these children along with a pizza coupon, a Caught with Character pencil, a bracelet that has the five values printed on it, and a “Pass It On” t-shirt. This t-shirt has the five values printed on it along with a PIO printing on the back. We want each child to “pass on” these values to someone else in our John Wash family. Students are also given “180 Degree” awards. These are for students who have turned around completely in their behavior, or their schoolwork. These awards are extremely important. The principal also recognizes caring and responsible teachers or staff in handing out Life Saver candy for those who “saved his life” by helping him various responsibilities. These are given to staff members at our morning opening. This year we had Eugene Edgerson form the Harlem Globetrotters as an assembly speaker. He is one of the founders of the Globetrotters C.H.E.E.R. for Character program. C.H.E.E.R. is an acronym for Cooperation, Healthy mind and body, Effort, Enthusiasm, and Responsibility. He spoke on each of these values of character and gave examples of each. The entire school was mesmerized by his presentation.

Our Fourth, Fifth and Sixth grade students participate in a Peer Mediation program. Groups of four students roam the playground during recesses wearing yellow vests with value badges to try to solve any problems that students may have. In order to aid in solving problems, they often utilize the five core values with students. A “Brick Wall of Success” was implemented this year in the cafeteria. Any staff member who sees a student exemplify one of the values, writes the student’s name on a “brick” and it is proudly displayed on the wall.

Our entire school community utilizes various activities to promote each of the values. Our student council has a Campus Beautification Commissioner. This person will assign a classroom to clean up the campus every Friday after lunch. The entire classroom goes out and cleans the campus picking up trash and putting away equipment that has been left out. This gives all students awareness of their responsibility as part of the John Wash “family”. The commissioner will then thank the classroom and make them aware of the good job the have done. The older students also buddy up with younger students to help them read.

For the past two years, our students have adopted a Make a Wish child and have exceeded their expected goals. Students have also sold hot cocoa and coffee in order to earn money for the Hurricane Katrina victims and also the tsunami victims. All of this done on their own accord. They are living the values. Our second grade class has taken towels and blankets to the SPCA for the animals. Our third grade class has taken blankets and sleeping bags to the Poverello House for the homeless during the winter season. The entire school decorated a Christmas tree with socks and mittens instead of ornaments to give to the Hannibal House in Sanger. Big Buddies and little Buddies paired together to sing Christmas carols to those elderly patients at the Armenian Home near our school. Letters were written by our fifth grade class to one of our school dads that were serving in Iraq in order to keep him informed of the activities at John Wash and to give him encouragement. He in turn sent us pictures of the letters that he hung on his wall in the barracks. When he was asked by one of his fellow soldiers, “Are those your children? He politely responded. “Yes, these are all my children.” This exemplifies the meaning of family and community at John Wash.

We believe that John Wash and its entire family of students, parents, staff and community is truly a Community of Caring.

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McKinley Elementary School
Central Unified School District (800 Students, K-6)
Fresno, CA 93722
559-276-5232
Principal: Eliseo Cuellar

A major component of McKinley’s character education is our “Character of the Month” program. On a monthly basis, two students are selected to be honored at a pizza luncheon celebration. Students are selected by their teachers, as “Character of the Month” and the “Most Improved” student in that classroom. A letter is sent home to each parent inviting them to also attend. These elections are also used by teachers to reinforce our core values.

Staff development has also centered on promoting our school’s core ethical values. In addition, each teacher is provided a lesson binder with various lesson plans that promote each of the virtues. The teachers are instructed to provide three lessons per month on each of the virtues.

Our positive discipline program is used to foster our core values and promote character education. The school’s focus is on making a change in a student’s behavior not merely providing a punitive measure. Student-Staff behavioral discussion often revolves around the core values and how the misbehaving student could fail forward. Failing forward is based on the idea that all people make mistakes. When a mistake is made students are taught to analyze why the mistake was made and how it could be prevented in the future.

The McKinley Personal Responsibility Program provides for a reward at the end of each trimester in recognition of those students who have demonstrated appropriate personal responsibility.

All students will have a checklist outlining specific responsibilities, such as positive classroom behavior, playground behavior, homework, etc, which will be the kept on file by their teacher to record any infractions throughout the trimester. At the start of each of the three trimesters, every student will have the potential to earn 2 points per day credit. Any student that accumulates 85 points or more per trimester will qualify for the award. Any office referral results in no points earned that day.

The staff at McKinley Elementary feels that students who have well-rounded educational experience are more likely to be the students who are successful later in life. To encourage students to strive to meet this goal, we are continuing our Block “M” program. The objective of this program is to award students who achieve academically, participate in service programs, compete in athletics, and participate in extra-curricular activities.

The McKinley Block “M” will not just be “given out”. It must be earned. It is our hope that all eligible students will give their best effort towards receiving this award. This is one way we can recognize extra effort and participation by our McKinley Tiger Students.

In October, 2005, McKinley students began a “Kash for Katrina” fundraiser to help the victims of the devastating hurricane in Louisiana and Mississippi. Our leadership student’s, bucket in hand, approached parents as they dropped off their students in the morning asking for donations. Our parents and students generously donated over $450 to this worthy cause.

In March 2006, students participated in the Jump Rope for Heart fundraiser benefiting the American Heart Association. This activity not only raises money for the American Heart Association, but promotes a healthy life style for our students. Every student who is physically able to participate in the school jumped rope and solicited pledge money based on their participation.

A “Character of the Month” student and a “Most Improved” student are selected from each classroom at the end of the month’s highlighted virtue. A formal award letter from the school is mailed to the home of the student inviting his or her parents to attend a luncheon in their honor. At the ceremony the student receives an award certificate, and a handshake from the administration. A photograph of the student is also displayed in the office.

One of our third grade teachers, Mrs. Melkonian, involves her class each year in a community service project. This year her class has been raising funds for the Alissa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation. Their goal is to sponsor four children at a week-long burn camp for burn survivors, aptly called “Champ Camp”.

The students of McKinley have been involved in the Jump Rope for Heart community fundraiser and the Holiday Joy donation drive benefiting families in Central Unified School District. Student Council sponsors the Kid’s Day newspaper drive annually to assist Children’s Hospital of Central California. Students have been “touched” by their ability to make a difference in their community.

McKinley teams with our middle school, El Capitan, to provide cross age tutors for McKinley’s students. These seventh and eight graders, which include many McKinley alumni, are assigned to McKinley students and provide much needed reinforcement to our at-risk students.

We make every effort to enable our students to contribute to the community through service-learning activities. We believe students are living our school mission statement in practicing self-reliance, responsibility and respectfulness, while striving for high academic achievement.

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Monte Vista Elementary School
Porterville Unified School District (537 Students, K – 6)
Porterville, Ca 93257
559-782-7350
Principal: Kim Silva

Each morning, swaying with the morning music, the student body president, vice president and our principal, Mrs. Woodley, greet the entire school with a smile over the television intercom announcements. After reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, the students are reminded to have good character and the pillar of the month is stated. Special quotes or mottos are stated each day to challenge the students and to further enhance their need to have good character. Children who have been awarded with a “Caught Being Good” are announced every Tuesday. The first Friday of each month, teachers choose a child to represent the pillar of the month for their classroom. These students are “Grizzly of the Month”. They are rewarded with a beautiful certificate with their picture and their teacher’s quote about their character. They are also rewarded with a “Grizzly of the Month” badge and are the proud line leaders for the classroom for that entire month. Each week, a student is recognized for displaying a specific pillar of character. They receive a Character Counts! T-shirt, certificate and pencil.

Character Counts! Day is every Tuesday. Children are encouraged to wear their Character Counts! T-shirt. Students are reminded that good character is something they should present each and every day. A person of good character is trustworthy, respectful, caring, responsible, fair and shows good citizenship.

The staff integrates the monthly pillar whenever they find it necessary such as daily lessons, duty on the playground or activities outside, during field trips, or in the cafeteria. Teachers from each classroom select a different child that portrays the Character Counts! pillar of the month. This student is rewarded with the distinguished “Grizzly of the Month.”

The “Grizzly of the Month” is also the line leader for the class the entire month. This student knows their job is important as they are to set a good example for others. The “Grizzly of the Month” is a person of character that shows others respect and is always on their best behavior. These students have the distinguished honor of having their name and teacher’s quote read aloud over the morning announcements by our principal, Mrs. Woodley.

The students of Monte Vista help donate food to the needy during Thanksgiving and Christmas by collecting and gathering food and then arranging it in beautiful food baskets. Student council also donates scholarships for students with needs. They have donated wrapped gifts to the women and children of the Porterville Women’s Shelter. Our school participates yearly in the Porterville Celebrates Reading. Our choir and orchestra students participate in performances around Porterville.

Student council supports school wide student activities to promote health and wellness such as dress up days, Red Ribbon week and Great American Smokeout. Lunch time activities such as basketball games, sponge races, tug of war, and other games, are guided by the students from the student council. Money raised by the student council is accounted for during monthly meetings and must be approved for activities by majority vote.

Collaborative groups are seen working together in all of our grade levels. The majority of our teachers participate in teaching an after school “at-risk” program for their students and several other teachers participate in the after school “Yes” Program which assists the children with their homework. In fourth through sixth grade, you will see students working together to get the science fair projects together. In second grade, you will see students changing classes for leveling or participating in singing and plays for an up coming presentation before the school. In fourth grade, you will see the students working together to build the perfect replica of a California Mission. In third grade, a dragon full of children roaming the hallways and classrooms, spreading good luck for a Chinese New Year. Third grade also sponsors a parent/ student start party. Children learn astronomy using an inflatable planetarium and then during the night, parents and children come to school to enjoy star and planet activities, hot cocoa and cookies. Students and parents are then able to view the planets through large telescopes provided by Porterville College Smart Lab. Fifth grade students traveling to Yosemite for a weekend of hiking, camping, and learning about nature. Kindergarten children will be seen doing the Mother Goose Olympics. We believe it is important that the students learn to work as a part of a group that values each others’ opinions.

Our student council is also involved in peer mediation. Peer mediation is a program that the student council offers all students on campus if the student feels that they have a problem with another student on campus. Students encourage each other to have a good character and to peacefully solve their problem through conflict resolution. Peer mediation is supported by all students, parents, and staff.

Over the past five years, Monte Vista has implemented the Character Counts! program. With the endless enthusiasm of our staff, we continue to grow and embrace the core ethical values of each person on this campus. The Character Counts! program continues to be embedded in the culture of Monte Vista Elementary School. Everywhere students look, they are reminded that their character really does count.

The Character Counts! program has effected how and what the teacher teaches, how teachers present themselves and treat others, how we deal with and approach new problems, and also what we have come to expect from the students, parents and ourselves.

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Oak Grove Elementary School
Burton School District (600 Students, K-4)
Porterville, Ca 93257
559-784-0310
Principal: Mick Bishop

Oak Grove Elementary School is a modified traditional site with approximately 600 students. The school is located on the west side of Porterville in rural Tulare County, in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley. Oak Grove serves students in preschool through fourth grade, and is one of six schools comprising the Burton School District. Most students are within walking distance of the school.

Oak Grove Elementary School staff and administrators sought a means to create a climate inside and outside the classroom setting that would support good citizenship and responsible behavior in elementary age students. We discovered that the Character Counts! program provides structure that assists our students in developing character traits that relate directly to themselves and others. The program focuses on promoting the six pillars of Character Counts!

Through the program our staff and students have come together to develop a more peaceful, safe, and comfortable school environment. As the program of Character Counts! has grown at our site, there has been an observable increase in student acceptance and respect for others. Teachers and parents have observed students sharing their talents, abilities and personal interest, which has led to an increase of positive behaviors at Oak Grove. Our character education program is used to communicate expectations between staff and students as well as student to student.

PTA continues to fund and advocate character education every year as well as to assist in expanding the program with the support of parents and teachers. In 2002 we commissioned a local artist and parent to design and build a Character Counts! monument. The monument is a hexagonal-shaped tower that depicts all six traits of Character Counts! students and parents painted ceramic tiles that symbolize each trait. The colorful monument is placed near our cafeteria. Purple benches were installed surrounding the monument so that teachers can bring their classes to teach the traits and reflect on the pillars. In our cafeteria, enthusiastic staff has created captivating bulletin boards to reinforce each pillar. A school marquee broadcasts the trait of the month. Disciplinary measures also reflect that these traits are valued and provide the cornerstone of high expectations that administrators and staff support in the classroom, cafeteria and on the playground.

Teachers consistently encourage students to follow the six pillars of character during daily lessons and through gentle reminders and by modeling these character traits in all of their actions in the classroom, cafeteria and on the playground. Both are designed to meet individual and group needs. Teachers have been provided with a variety of techniques and strategies through staff development that meets the diverse needs of all students.

The students at Oak Grove School are active participants in the beautification of the campus. The California Conservation Core engineered and helped build the Oak Grove/ Cesar Chavez Garden. Our garden is a wonderful resource for our staff and students to work together and appreciate a meaningful, real outdoor classroom. Students willingly pick up trash during their recesses and encourage each other to keep the site free of litter. Since the character education program has become part of the campus philosophy, students have taken more pride in their school and there has been a decrease in graffiti and littering. The Student Council supports and monitors Wednesday Spirit Days. In participation with our PTA, Student Council promotes service-learning projects such as the Porterville Recycling Project, Christmas Canned Food Drive, Coats for the Needy, and Change for Jerrod Penic (a student with cystic fibrosis who needed a lung transplant). In the spring student council sponsors a walk-a-thon for community projects including a new Porterville Cancer Treatment Center. Also this fall student council raised money for Hurricane Katrina victims. Through these responsibilities students are provided opportunities to be role models and leaders, which encourages a sense of civic pride as well as preparation for leadership in middle school and throughout life. Students also bring in “Boxtops for Education” in order to create funds for field trips, assemblies, and Character Counts! curriculum. All of these activities create experiences for our students to exhibit their active school and community responsibility as well as respect for others.

Character education is the responsibility of all people and organizations dedicated to the betterment of their society--families, schools, churches, and the entire community. Children need to develop a set of values that they can build on and call on throughout their lives to guide their behavior and attitude. Our goal at Oak Grove is to continue working hand in hand with the community in developing morally conscious students.

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River Bluff Elementary School
Central Unified School District (764 students, K-6)
Fresno, Ca 93722
559-276-6001
Principal: Brett Wolfe

We include representation from all facets of the school community in the site decision-making process of creating and promoting River Bluff’s vision of providing a comprehensive, quality education through exemplary curricular programs, co-curricular services, and activities that foster lifelong learning.

Our core ethical values are the foundation for character development. As an official member of the Character Counts! coalition our school culture embodies the six pillars of character (trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, citizenship). A committee of stakeholders including administration, teachers, classified staff members, parents, students, and community members brainstormed, drafted, revised, and implemented our mission statement and core values.

Administration and staff collaborating on the Principal Advisory Committee (PAC) make decisions related to activities, assemblies, field trips, student incentive programs, and discipline policies fostering an intentional, proactive, and comprehensive approach to learning.

It was determined that our initial discipline system based on Personal Responsibility (PR) points was not as effective as we had hoped. Following analysis and research, PAC created a positive reward system (first-sixth) using RB tickets. Rather than taking away an unearned privilege when students’ behavior is less than desirable, our current system provides positive reinforcement to students that are making good choices. Two RB tickets may be earned each day.

Character education is promoted on campus throughout the entire day. Our morning announcements conducted by our Associate Student Body president support our values and provide specific examples of behaviors that are aligned with our values. Students are reminded that “Falcons walk in the hallways, pick up trash, use equipment appropriately, etc.” Teachers not only teach character traits, they model them on a daily basis. Opportunities for discussion of character occur regularly. For example, when first graders read Junie B. Jones they discuss respect and emphasize the importance of choosing their words wisely.

Our athletic program emphasizes Pursuing Victory With Honor. Students and parents are informed of our high expectations and sign an Athletic Code of Conduct Agreement. Our Girl’s basketball team runs their laps together each day demonstration the responsibility they have to each other.

We believe developing character is the responsibility of the entire River Bluff community. The River Bluff community embraces the challenge of creating opportunities for moral action. We continuously strive to connect students to our school. With over twenty clubs/ activities available to students, we work to ensure everyone is connected to school.

The newest addition to our campus, Etiquette Club, builds chivalry and respect with our fifth and sixth grade students. The development and implementation of our student council is on example of how students get involved in collaborative projects and hands-on learning. Each semester students are elected to govern the student body. During their monthly meetings they discuss how they can work together to provide students with the best experience possible. Students participate in an annual Holiday Joy canned food drive. In response to Hurricane Katrina, they developed a fundraiser, Hurricane Helpers, and collected and donated over $1,200 to the American Red Cross. Additionally, we have a community service club whose sole purpose is service learning both on our campus and in the Fresno/ Clovis community. Service on campus includes landscape beautification and recycling. Students and their families donate one Saturday each month to serve in the larger community including the United Way Day of Caring, Poverello House, and the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life. At this year’s Relay For Life we will have two teams combined of students, parents, and staff members illustrating our commitment as role models. Additional school-wide events that provide opportunities for students to contribute in meaningful ways include Denim Days, Pennies for Patients, and Coats for Kids.

Systems are created to provide opportunities for students to work through their problems together. For example, in Mrs. Mahoney’s class she utilizes a peace path in the back of the room guiding students through a simulated mediation. Students are actively engaged in solving their problems while attending to not only the content of the incident, but the feelings involved. Mrs. Campos’ class has a journal that provides an outlet for students to describe their concerns that are then addressed as needed. A large ball cart filled with playground equipment (displaying character traits and definitions) was purchased to create a safe playground environment. Ample equipment decreases the opportunity for altercations.

The River Bluff Community works diligently to promote our vision of providing a comprehensive, quality education through exemplary curricular programs, co-curricular services and activities that foster life-long learning.

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Roosevelt Elementary School
Central unified School District (565 students, K-6)
Fresno, Ca 93722
559-276-5257
Principal: Danny Teevens

“Make it a great day… or not. The choice is yours”, is read proudly each morning on the announcements by a student in grade 3-6. This is the Roosevelt Roadrunner’s daily bread shared by students for others in order to sustain compassion, trust, and acceptance on our campus. After each announcement student readers receive a Roosevelt pencil which states the school motto “Our Best ‘til the Very End!” and highlights some of our student character opportunities.

Daily, our county autistic class, Circle Program, and our special education classes have students mainstreamed into regular education classes. These students, with special needs, are accepted with open arms, like a family member.

Twice, annually, we have an awards ceremony which includes the recognition of student involvement, service leadership, and self-discipline. Our students have the opportunity to earn dog tags for reading and comprehension, essential standards mastery, monthly writing based character traits, excellent attendance, Healthy Kids, Science Fair, History Day, band, sports, and volunteerism. Our volunteer service leadership award, Peer Assistance Leader (PAL) dog tag, is earned when students have decided a minimum of 50 hours in service for others on site or in the community. Several students have earned this award for giving of their time in our library, sorting and cleaning books, assisting our cafeteria personnel with clean-up after lunch, or other service above and beyond expectation.

Student self-discipline during school is reflected when they earn the Radical Responsible Roadrunner (RRR) Award.

Each year all students in each grade level are involved in a Community Service project. Roosevelt’s grade level teams dedicate student and staff efforts to promote and contribute to various diverse groups within the community. The goal is to act upon good intentions in order to help those who are less fortunate.

Our Student Council, also, arranges a school wide community service project each year. This year our student leaders have promoted two efforts. One of the efforts is a classroom competition in collecting ‘pull-tabs’ for a Ronald McDonald House in support of families who are in need of a residence while their child is in a local hospital. Also, they have raised $2,463 for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Our first annual 6th Grade Leadership Academy took place this year following Christmas break. Each student and teacher in the 6th grade participated in a day-long leadership training at Scout Island, supported and conducted by our Fresno County Office of Education. Activities, discussion, and presentation, by Mr. Jim Coiner, outlines leadership skills which are intended to be learned, practiced, and modeled by our elder students.

For the past six years our After School Program in association with the County Office of Education has involved students in the Dare to Dream ‘civic responsibility’ leadership training. These students are being trained by our After School coordinator in order to promote good citizenship within each child.

From the hearts of staff, students, families, and our community compassion for others is modeled relentlessly. As mentioned, a great number of efforts are made to infuse character education into the fabric our student body with the help of many great people and programs. But, what is not stated is the immeasurable, daily, interaction and care provided by our staff and students for every person who encounters Roosevelt Elementary School. We believe the culture of this place is special indeed.

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Sanger Academy Charter School
Sanger Unified School District (510 students, K-8)
Sanger, Ca 93657
559-875-5562
Principal: Ken Garcia

Sanger Academy Charter School has implemented character education values through the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation’s “Community of Caring”.

In order to ensure that expectations for behavior at Sanger Academy is well-known by all students and community members, a parent/ student compact is signed prior to enrollment of each student. This compact notes that parents/ caregivers pledge to support the school’s policies and high standards, while students pledge to have a positive attitude towards self, others, school and learning.

Students volunteer to keep grounds neat and clean, the on-site custodian encourages students by handing out rewards, and students are taught to respect all public and private areas. The school has visual reminders of values as each corridor and walkway has a value permanently displayed. You might find yourself walking on Responsibility Road, Respect Route, Trust Turnpike, or Family Freeway on your way to class. These continual reminders assist students in maintaining both the school environment and the core character values, along with the many other support programs offered on site.

Peer mediators serve our school on recess and lunch to help resolve student conflicts. Each mediator has been trained in conflict resolution that provides students with problem solving strategies as well as leadership and social skills that last into adulthood. Sanger Academy provides instruction to students through the nationally recognized program Second Step. This program teaches social skills, respect, and nonviolent alternatives. It has been successful in encouraging positive communication between students in a disagreement or at other emotional times, while teaching interpersonal communication skills and diplomacy to mediators.

This year each classroom is selecting a project for the school environment or community. A few of the projects have been: plastic grocery bags being collected to protect the environment in association with the Wal-Mart stores; change collected for Valley Children’s Hospital and UMC burn center; stuffed toys for hospitalized children; food collected for the local food bank; and students visited a local convalescent home with favors and singing. Students, led by Student Government, also planned an all school “Family Movie Night” for all students, siblings and parents to attend.

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Santa Fe Elementary School
Porterville Unified School District (549 students, K-6)
Porterville, Ca 93257
559-782-6614
Principal: Angel Valdez

Santa Fe Elementary School Mission Statement: At Santa Fe we believe all students can learn. Our mission as a School Community of learners is to promote excellence in learning and instruction, which will empower students to become productive, creative and socially responsible individuals that demonstrate the six core values of Character Counts!

The school is situated on the south-east side of town. This area has been known as a “rough” area, with various social problems associated with the impoverished conditions many of our families find themselves in. The unemployment rate in this community is estimated to be around fifteen percent. Many of our students have family members in jail and speak of it openly.

Santa Fe Elementary School’s commitment to Good Character is evident in many ways. The six pillars of Character Counts!, Trustworthiness, Citizenship, Caring, Responsibility, Fairness and Respect, are posted on the buildings, in the classrooms and cafeteria. Each morning, after the flag salute, students recite the Character Counts! pledge. The principal gives an inspirational message and announces the named of students “caught” demonstrating good character. A Character Counts! Pillar is used as a theme each month to reinforce learning of that virtue. Character Counts! assemblies are held monthly to honor students best representing this particular pillar. Each month, every teacher nominates one student demonstrating great character to have lunch at McDonalds with the principal.

Besides seeing and hearing about the Character Counts! messages at our school, our students and parents see the Character Counts! pillars and inspirational messages daily in their student agendas. There are helpful hints for students and parents for learning as well as character building. Messages taught in the Pillars are reinforced as they are encountered in our social studies and literature units.

A “Friday Focus” (a newsletter from the principal) comes out weekly to list staff and students for noteworthy Character Counts! quotes or deeds. A monthly newsletter goes home to the families. In it are listed the Students of the Month and the Pillar of the Month. Students displaying good character are rewarded with a Character Counts! activity monthly.

The staff integrates the Pillar of the Month into the curriculum whenever possible, discussing a story’s characters, identifying each desirable trait shown in students in the classroom or playground.

When students receive a Positive Referral from a staff member, besides having their name announced in the daily announcements, a copy is sent to their teacher and parents. This is to show parents how proud we are of their children and trust that this will encourage parents to continue to encourage good character at home.

Our students are provided opportunities to help others by serving as cafeteria helpers, cross-age tutors, and helping new students learn about our campus. Many teachers use “Book Buddies” as a way for students to help teach/ learn literacy.

Santa Fe students brought in canned goods for food baskets for needy families at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Even though many families do not have a lot by many people’s standards, our students are always willing to donate for those less fortunate.

Our Pride Patrol picks up trash and notifies staff of any safety issues or problems that need to be addressed.

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Vandalia Elementary School
Porterville Unified Schools (696 students, K-6)
Porterville, Ca 93257
559-782-7260
Principal: Lissa Lambie

Not only is Vandalia Elementary School the oldest in the community it also has one of the most diverse student ethnic populations. Seventeen percent of the students who attend Vandalia are Native American, from the Tulare River Indian Reservation, 13 miles away from Porterville. Sixty percent are Hispanic, 20% are white, and the remaining 3% are evenly distributed among African-American, Asian, and unspecified populations. Nearly 79% of Vandalia students are socio-economically disadvantaged and more than one-fourth of the students are English Learners.

Most Vandalia students live in poverty and start school far behind the average student. For many of our students, Vandalia is where they are fed, cared for, and learn the necessary academic skills needed to be economically independent as adults. It is also where they learn the core values essential to the development of character, which is truly how we view a life of success and what we hope to instill in every learner.

Each and every morning at Vandalia, our students recite the Pledge of Allegiance and the Character Counts! pledge. As our Vice Principal, Mr. Longoria, reads the daily announcements, he reminds the school of the pillar of the week and reflects on it with words of wisdom, from Project Wisdom. He closes every morning with the words, “Make it a great day, or not. The choice is yours.” It has become so ingrained in students that most of the children say it along with him each morning! A part of the announcements that has been added this year is a weekly Character Counts! student chosen by a certain teacher each week. Along with the weekly CC! student, Vandalia continues with the monthly CC! student chosen from each classroom. Mr. Longoria comes to each and every classroom to congratulate and present a certificate, bumper sticker, pencil, and folder. This year, three of our students were recognized in the Visalia Times Delta newspaper during October for National Character Counts! week.

Our Viking Pride is shown in many ways here at the school and in the community. This is our first year of having a cheer squad. The members of the squad have to work hard to show their good character here at school and when they are representing us in parades in town. Another way we show our pride is through wearing our school T-shirts on Fridays. Thursdays are reserved for wearing the Character Counts! T-shirts. The campus is flooded with proud, white T-shirt wearing students! Another way our pride is shown in our school is with Pride Patrol. Each week a 4th though 6th grade class is chosen to patrol the campus and help keep it clean. Any problems are reported to the custodian who then takes care of things quickly. We at Vandalia try to make our campus beautiful and safe for everyone.

Each teacher’s program focuses on Respect and Responsibility. Students develop a sense of self-respect through very careful, systematic instruction designed to help them improve as readers. We believe the ultimate gift we can give our students is the ability to succeed and learn. As students’ reading improves they move up to “higher” groups. Our reading program also promotes responsibility. Students learn to be prepared and on time. They understand how critical it is to come to school every day and be on time, so that they can get the full impact of our EXCEL reading program. Likewise, in the past two years our teaching staff has gone from teaching and planning in isolation, to working collaboratively as grade level teams.

We raised funds to be donated to the Red Cross for Hurricane Katrina victims. Our student council worked with local service clubs at Thanksgiving to fix six food baskets for needy families. In November the student council asked all classrooms to donate non-perishable food items for the Porterville Women’s Shelter. We filled 15 boxes. We also participated in the Porterville Literacy Fair and Porterville Celebrates Reading, sponsored by the Rotary Club.

As mentioned before, character education is constantly infused in our reading program. Students are encouraged to identify and discuss good (and “bad”) character decisions in the stories. Teaching reading comprehension using character as a discussion point happens throughout the academic day, including Book Buddies. Many classes have developed a Book Buddy partnership, usually a primary classroom with an intermediate group. This provides a model for our younger students and demonstrates that education, especially reading is important. The younger children like to have the older children read to them and it is a great self-esteem booster for the older children, to have someone who looks up to them and respects them. Collaboration groups are seen working together in all our grade levels. You will see these groups working in all subject areas, but especially in language arts, math, and science.

As we evolve and grow in our character education program we have begun to make some changes. First of all, we are trying to de-emphasize the rewards system, and help the students learn to appreciate making good character decisions intrinsically, making good decisions because it is the right thing to do! This is a tough task to accomplish, but is beginning to take root.

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Promising Practices from the 2004 Virtues and Character Award Winning Schools

(Excerpts from the applications)

 

Burton Elementary School
Burton Elementary School District (608 Students, K-4)
Porterville, CA 93257
559-784-2401
Principal: Michelle Pengilly

Every Friday teachers and students gather at morning assemblies to honor students who have represented good character during the week. Students are given recognition by all students through applause and are given a candy treat “Hot Tamales” by the principal.

In addition, students are recognized monthly by classroom teachers who present a write-up honoring the student and the pillar of character they have modeled and their picture is taken and sent to the Wall of Character in the cafeteria. In the month of October student names are sent to the County for special recognition which involves receiving a pin, t-shirt and a school assembly honoring the great choice to model good character!

Character education is implemented at all grade levels and is woven into the curriculum and standards. CHARACTER COUNTS! is the heart of all disciplinary actions and solutions. The administration and teachers commonly refer to making good choices and remind students what pillar was not being followed when a poor choice is made. In addition, treats and special recognition are given to students and teachers when good choices are made.

CHARACTER COUNTS! runs deep at Burton Elementary…. Many classrooms take turns adopting different areas of the campus to keep clean and neat. Rewards aren’t necessary when it comes to the beautification of our campus. Students respect the grounds they play on and take care of the grounds to keep them clean and safe for all. Students have also supported a recycling program to earn new lunch tables for the outside area. Every Tuesday students bring recyclables from home with help of their parents and help earn money towards the purchase of new equipment to build a better campus. So far the students have raised over $2,500.

The Character Education program is inserted in the school handbook and distributed the first day of school so that all students and their families know what is expected. Teachers model good character at Burton Elementary, as well as the administration and all other personnel.

One of the most exciting projects the children of Burton elementary have participated in was Caps for Kids. The students gathered together to decorate new and old hats donated by students from the community. The hats were then sent to Valley Children’s Hospital for children undergoing chemotherapy. Patients undergoing treatment received a new hat each time they went for treatment. The artistic ability was amazing and the joy of creating and giving was heart stopping. Many of our staff were brought to tears to see the amount of participation and the genuine care put into this great project!

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Cole Elementary School
Clovis Unified School District (618 Students, K-6)
Clovis, CA 93612
559-327-6200
Principal: Ruth Di Santo

Students [at Cole] know a common language for behavior and clearly understand what is required to be a leader with character. The administration begins the year with an assembly where behavior goals are discussed and teachers review expectations. Students are also taught how to be good citizens through CHARACTER COUNTS!. Additional assemblies, classroom visits and announcements are made throughout the year reminding students that being a Cole Bulldog means respecting others. When students are observed demonstrating good character they are given a “Caught With Character” slip. Weekly drawings are held using these slips and students are recognized on Friday morning announcements.

Parents, community members, teachers, and students continually help to define goals, expectations, and values that will ensure student success and character development. The School Site Council (SSC), Staff Leadership Team, Student Leadership, Parent/Teacher Club (PTC), and School Assessment and Review Team (SART) provide input. Cole’s weekly newsletter, Paw Prints, serves to inform and remind parents of the CHARACTER COUNTS! pillar being focused on during the current month. The newsletter highlights students from each class who are exemplars of that pillar. “Paw Prints” is also posted on Cole’s web site.

Motivated by the Baldridge training process, teachers are guiding students to graph personal results data for their class work. This indicates strengths and weaknesses and encourages students to take more responsibility for their work and behavior.

At the beginning of the year classes write their mission statement. These statements explain what type of behavior is expected in the classroom and goals they will strive to attain while at school. The mission statement of one 3rd grade class states, “We are here to be the best that we can be. We want to make friends, help others, and improve in mind, body and spirit. We know that ‘Character Counts’.”

When staff members see a student exhibiting excellent character, the student is given a Caught with Character slip to be placed in a drawing. On Fridays, six names of students who were caught showing good character are drawn. These students are rewarded will a Cole Bulldog cup. On the 2002-03 SART survey 98% of parents felt this program is a positive part of the educational program at Cole.

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Fort Washington Elementary School
Clovis Unified School District (617 Students, K-6)
Clovis, CA 93720
559-327-6600
Principal: Debra Parra

The essence of Fort Washington’s tradition of excellence lies in its adherence to certain core ethical values sustained over generations of Patriots. Values such as “being the best you can be in mind, body and spirit”, have continually propelled our school toward high standards of quality in all areas of the educational experience. This year, Fort Washington maintains its mission statement, “to provide a safe learning environment in which all shareholders collaborate to ensure that students achieve their full potential in the development of mind, body and character.” Goals were developed through student, faculty, and community feedback, gathered from community surveys and meetings, to provide the means through which we can realize our mission statement.

Our Library Media Center (LMC) houses a collection of children’s literature, video and audio cassette tapes, and computer software with themes that target the six pillars of CHARACTER COUNTS!… Over the years, our GOOD DEED TICKETS have reinforced the value of random acts of kindness. Children “caught being good” enter their GOOD DEED TICKETS into a weekly raffle. Six children are randomly selected from the raffle bins and recognized over our Friday video announcements. In addition, our CHARACTER COUNTS! coordinator teaches an accelerated program for second and third grade students called, Exceptionally Capable Learners (ECL). For the past six years, character education has been the theme of her program providing young minds with lessons on all six pillars of character. To raise their level of awareness and acceptance of diversity, ECL students have enjoyed guest speakers, field trips to Native American cultural fairs, Japanese cultural demonstrations, and animal preserves.

Clovis West High School (CWHS) peer counselors serve our Patriots as volunteer readers and provide refusal skills to our fourth grade students. High school peer tutors provide recreational instruction to our students in grades 1-3 during our physical education period. ROP students receive training and an early look into their future careers in education by observing teachers and serving as reading “buddies” to our Patriots. For the past five years CWHS peer counselors have served our students through the Community of Readers volunteer program. All Community of Readers undergo a two-hour training seminar; they are then assigned to specific students with reading difficulties and provide 30-60 minutes of one-on-one support in reading fluency and comprehension.

In promoting healthy student behaviors and positive character traits, a PEER MEDIATION program is underway. One classroom teacher and our school psychologist teamed together to provide 8 weeks of peer mediation training to a select group of approximately 20 students in grades 4-6. These peer mediators, otherwise known as FORT FRIENDS, can be identified by their visors, lanyards, and tags, and assist our adult lunchtime monitors four days a week. FORT FRIENDS help new students make adjustments, befriend isolated students, and help resolve minor conflicts on the yard. For those students experiencing emotional distress, our student assistance program (referred to as STAR) provides group support, facilitated by four trained staff members. Anger management, grief and loss, and study skills support groups are among the targeted needs.

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Jim Maples Academy
Burton School District (593 Students, 5th & 6th)
Porterville 93257
559-781-1658
Principal: Sharon Kamberg

The structure of Jim Maples Academy allows for students to remain in the same academy for two years with the same team of teachers. These teams allow teachers to build relationships with their students and help them feel like a member of the school community. The academies work together as a team to focus on the instructional strategies that meet all students’ needs. The small schools within a school model has allowed teachers to reinforce the school rules and values in a much smaller setting while promoting the qualities of the CHARACTER COUNTS! curriculum.

In a school wide assembly at the beginning of the year students are provided information regarding the school rules including rewards and consequences. Expected behaviors and examples of how students can make good choices are reviewed. Role-plays and scenarios are used to reinforce this information. A second assembly is held at the beginning of the third trimester where students are reminded of their responsibilities on campus. Throughout these assemblies and in all disciplinary actions, students are reminded of their choice to show their true character through their daily actions.

A Perfect Patriot Party is held at the end of each trimester for students who consistently demonstrate strong character by not receiving a discipline referral or detention throughout the semester. Tony Cavanaugh from the county’s Friday Night Live (FNL) office assists us with music and games during this celebration. During the party, students are reminded of their good choices and the character traits they portrayed during the trimester.

Character education is promoted at the classroom and school level. Each month our school focuses on one of the Character Pillars of Education. The pillar of the month is announced during the daily morning announcements. A small skit or role-play is used during the announcements to describe actions and/or behaviors that illustrate the pillar. At the end of the month each class has the opportunity to nominate two students to receive an award of recognition for displaying that character trait. The students are photographed and interviewed; this information, along with the students’ picture, is then displayed in our cafeteria. Students are nominated annually for the Tulare County CHARACTER COUNTS! Award.

Our students have initiated a school beautification club (Nature Club), in which members pick up trash and help with visual improvements around campus…. JMA has a strong Peer Mediation program. Students apply, are interviewed and receive weekly training on how to assist peers in making good decisions…. Many student conflicts are solved without ever involving an adult.

JMA believes that by teaching our students about charity and having them participate in not only raising money for worthy causes but also participating in those causes teaches true character.

Parents and staff of the Jim Maples Academy work together to educate students. It is our goal that every student becomes a productive citizen. As adults, we know that this is a life long process.

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McKinley Elementary School
Central Unified School District (850 Students, K-6)
Fresno 93722
559-276-5235
Principal: Sheila Moynihan

Staff development [at McKinley Elementary School] has centered on promoting our school’s core ethical values. FCOE Leadership Academy Coordinator, Mr. Jim Coiner, has provided our staff with leadership training, focusing on the teachers’ roles in promoting strong ethical values. Mr. Don Reed, FCOE Dare to Dream facilitator, helped host a Parent Night for students in our Dare to Dream classes, emphasizing communication and leadership skills. Mr. Tim Richardson, principal at Herndon-Barstow School, presented an “anti-bullying” in-service which further reinforced our focus on core ethical values as well as provided strategies for conflict resolution and peer mediation.

The school’s focus is on making a change in a students’ behavior not merely providing a punitive measure. Student-staff behavioral discussions often revolve around the core values and how the misbehaving student could fail-forward. Failing forward is based on the idea that all people make mistakes. When a mistake is made students are taught to analyze why the mistake was made and how it could be prevented in the future.

All grade levels at McKinley Elementary School implement regular procedures and activities that promote character education. The daily morning announcements mark the official opening of school. This program, produced and broadcast by our sixth grade students, includes a variety of topics designed to reinforce and enhance character education. The “Tiger Paw High Five of the Day” segment recognizes McKinley students and staff who exemplify “going above and beyond” and or other positive character traits…. The program is concluded by the Principal or Vice-Principal who reads to the students the “Words of Wisdom” for the day. Through these short lessons given in a story format we strive to teach our students how to make the right choices and live ethical, principle-based lives.

Students in the intermediate grades are invited to become active in student council. All 4th-6th classrooms send two representatives to the student council meetings which are held twice per month…. This year the McKinley Student Council decided to commit their time and fund-raising efforts on behalf of several community service projects such as the Fresno Rescue Mission project in which students from Student Council and the Dare to Dream program donated hundreds of dollars in cash, clothing, food and toys to the Fresno Rescue Mission. The students met with Reverend Larry J. Arce, Chief Executive Officer of the Fresno Rescue Mission and toured the facility along with their teachers and parents…. Valuable discussions followed about making the right choices in life to prevent ending up in that situation.

This year student council, in participation with the Dare to Dream program students, committed to addressing the social problem of bullying at school. In October we viewed the video, Don’t Laugh at Me and raised money to bring Merman Productions to our school to present three anti-bullying assemblies to our student body in grades 1-6.

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Miramonte Elementary School
Clovis Unified School District (735 Students, K-6)
Fresno, CA
559-327-7400
Principal: David Bower

Character values are emphasized in the standards of behavior set forth in each classroom [at Miramonte]. These become manifest in the mission statement developed in each classroom. MRD (Make Right Decisions) is part of our school culture and common language at Miramonte.

Another phrase one will hear frequently is “Mustang manners are magnificent”. Miramonte sets high standards for student behavior and places great emphasis on magnificent manners. “Manners” is a pillar Miramonte has added and is the first pillar we highlight each year. Mustangs are encouraged to be “kind, courteous and considerate”. We are rewarded when students say “please” and “thank you” ever increasingly without being reminded.

Teachers weave character education into daily lessons. There is a shelf in our school’s professional library dedicated in 1999 to a teacher who was killed in a car accident. This teacher was a founding member of our Character Education Committee and was exemplary in her classroom practices. The titles purchased in her memory include resource guides filled with character lessons teachers can use in their classrooms. In addition, there are numerous books for all grade levels that illustrate the different character pillars. After reading these books to the class, meaningful discussions take place regarding character lessons, examples of good character or character flaws. The Children’s Book of Virtues is a book each teacher has been provided by the school. Other classroom activities include: essay writing focused on character values, role playing character traits, poster contests illustrating disability awareness and the different pillars.

When a child is sent to the office on a behavior referral the experience is not designed to be punitive. The goal is to be educational. It is about choices and how to apply what we are learning about character qualities to our personal experiences and situations. Miramonte has small groups of students who meet once a week with our school psychologist or a specially trained MAP (Mustang Assistance program) teacher. The classroom teacher or administrator may refer students to MAP who need support and encouragement and a structure for discussing with their peers similar issues affecting them. In this safe environment students learn courtesy, friendship, loyalty and concern for others.

Twenty staff members act as Mentor Buddies and have adopted needy students to mentor during the year. Needy students are matched up with teachers who best can connect with them and provide nurturing, support and guidance.

At Miramonte we believe the foundation for all we do lies in a strong school-wide character development program. We have the opportunity to educate, model, practice, reinforce, reward, and celebrate the development of positive character traits. We are on a mission to promote high standards for personal and academic achievement enabling all students to become responsible, contributing members of society. Our challenge is to strengthen the character of young people today and thereby safeguard tomorrow for all.

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Nelson Elementary School
Clovis Unified School District (595 Students, K-6)
Pinedale, CA
559-327-7600
Principal: W. Rich Smith

Character education has become an integral part of everyday life at Nelson. The Clovis Unified School District as a whole has adopted the Michael Josephson’s CHARACTER COUNTS! school and work place program promoting character education…. Nelson school recognizes that character education must be a joint effort between parents, staff, community and students themselves. “The shared mission of Nelson Elementary is to provide exemplary programs and services that align all resources to assure that each student achieves at her or his highest level academically and socially.” Nelson’s mission is the guiding force for implementation of school-wide goals and priorities. The school community’s ultimate goal is to prepare individuals to become lifelong learners and contributing members of society by providing a quality educational program to a diverse population through exemplary curricular programs, co-curricular activities, and comprehensive services.

…From the custodian to the librarian, and from the instructional aides to the campus monitors, all those involved with Nelson students can relate to the core ethical values the “school community” holds in highest esteem. The staff is expected to model good character at all times observing the six pillars. Examples include: treat others as they would want to be treated themselves; be accountable for their actions; build a good reputation; being kind or compassionate and showing that they care; being open minded and listening to others; and, always doing their best.

CHARACTER COUNTS! vocabulary is used on a daily basis by teachers and students throughout the school day as employees tie character into “normal routines”. Examples include:

  • Homework—teaches Responsibility
  • Sharing in class—teaches Caring
  • PE, sports and recess—teaches Fairness
  • Classroom and school-wide rules—teaches Citizenship
  • Returning lost items—teaches Trustworthiness
  • Being kind to one another and adults—teaches Respect

Character curriculum taught at each grade level is targeted to the students’ level. As students move through the grade levels, the curriculum builds upon past knowledge and lessons. In a sense all that is learned about good character traits is culminated at our sixth grade camp trip to the Regional Learning Center in Sonora. Our final activity in Sonora is a “Ropes” course in which sixth grade students must be able to “work as a team” and be able to “trust” their fellow classmates. These relationships built through trust, caring, respect and fairness will last a lifetime.

Classrooms are assigned a weekly clean campus area that they are responsible to keep clean and a SART parent representative conducts a monthly clean campus inspection. Additionally, Nelson’s plant manager plays an important role in providing a suitable learning environment. His duties include checking the school grounds for graffiti, trash, and safety hazards before students come to school each day. But he also has another very special routine he has established to involve students. Each day during the lunch hour students can be found happily assisting Ed in cleanup of the cafeteria. He makes them feel special and gives treats too. Nelson is fortunate to have a dedicated plant supervisor who goes beyond the call of duty.

Nelson recognizes that the traditional family is changing. Character education is clearly the role of the school as well as the family. We have taken a progressive approach and have many programs as well as caring and dedicated staff that allows the Nelson family to promote positive student character development…. We respect those individual differences, and through character education make them our strengths. Our goal is to develop students of character that understand the importance of trust and pursue a life that makes them worthy of trust.

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Palm Elementary School
Cutler-Orosi Joint Unified School District (757 Students, K-6)
Orosi, CA
559-528-4751
Principal: Roy Woods

Our Mission at Palm School is to:

  • CHALLENGE and support students to meet or exceed State standards in the pursuit of academic excellence.
  • PROMOTE and model responsibility and respectful behavior and take pride in our clean, well-maintained campus.
  • PROVIDE a safe, supportive, stimulating learning environment, which promotes success, fairness and respect.

The implementation of the CHARACTER COUNTS! program this year at our school began slowly, but has quickly become an integral part of everything that we do. Staff and parents have reported a noticeable change in the culture of the school. Teachers report fewer discipline problems in the classroom, office discipline referrals have dropped measurably, and suspensions are down appreciably from previous years despite an increase in enrollment. The school now has a shared vision of behavior expectations and self-responsibility for students, staff, parents, and the administration. When dealing with behavior issues in the classroom, teachers are encouraged to utilize the pillars when communicating with students and parents. There are now higher and more consistent expectations for student conduct that are familiar to all within the school and community.

Teachers are at the forefront of the CHARACTER COUNTS! program. They have selected a pillar of the month that ties in with their individual grade-level language arts program, and lessons are designed in a way that allows for the weaving of the pillar into the lesson. Students are encouraged to examine positive (and negative) character traits during discussion of stories and books. Many teachers also incorporate the pillars into their writing lessons, regularly completing character-themed writing assignments. Teachers are encouraged to make positive parent contacts whenever a student exhibits positive behavior or demonstrates character traits relating to the six pillars. Teachers often refer students to the principal for positive behavior so that the principal can make contact with the parents himself. Teachers are “making it cool to care” at Palm School.

Many 5th and 6th grade classrooms serve as mentors to kindergarten and first grade classes through our Book Buddies program. The older students pick up the younger ones from their class, walk them to the library to pick out a book they like, then sit and read the book with them. This program is designed to instill in the upper grade students a sense of trust and responsibility while they develop compassion and empathy for the younger students.

Our students are active participants in keeping the campus clean, organizing trashcan decorating contests and litter removal activities. A sense of pride in our clean and orderly campus and surrounding neighborhood is being developed through the Good Neighbor program initiated and adopted by the Student Council. Students organized a cleanup of the campus and the streets surrounding the school to demonstrate to the entire neighborhood that Palm students are kids of character and good neighbors. Fliers are designed and printed by the Student Council and placed on the doors of neighborhood houses notifying them of the clean-up and encouraging them to join in the cleanup. Activities supported by the staff, students, and parents are all geared toward exposing our students to the six pillars and developing character traits that related directly to respect of themselves and others.

We at Palm School strive to instill in our students the character traits that will enable them to do the right thing, even when no one is watching.

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Red Bank Elementary School
Clovis Unified School District (557 Students, K-6)
Clovis, CA
559-327-7800
Principal: Kevin Peterson

Red Bank Elementary School reflects the educational philosophy of the Clovis Unified School District that each student shall be given an equal opportunity to reach his/her greatest mental, spiritual and physical potential. The philosophy that all students may become productive, contributing members of society is one that is adhered to by the Red Bank team through Clovis Unified School District’s Character Counts! program and implementation of an interactive leadership system. This concept and expectation is continually and consistently promoted at Red Bank through verbal and written communication, awards presentations, teachers, staff and administrative role models and an extensive co-curricular program.

A comprehensive co-curricular program, including interscholastic competitions in: athletics, chorus, band, drama, oral interpretation, Science Olympiad, and a variety of poster and essay contests, is made available to students. Students are also encouraged to participate in student leadership and government. The activities are designed and administered to teach skills and provide a vehicle to develop positive character traits. Students are allowed to experience success and failure in many contexts, as well as address issues relating to values.

Embedded in the Red Bank Elementary School curriculum is a focus on the significance of reasoned oral and ethical choices. This is evident in daily lessons and curriculum. Students learn to evaluate situations and make positive and constructive decisions as they examine events. A greater understanding and tolerance of student diversity is manifested throughout the school language arts, writing, and social science curriculum. The integration of character education with district and California State Standards is a fun combination at Red Bank.

A clean, safe, secure learning environment is provided for all students at Red Bank. This is ensured through monthly safety drills, clean campus inspections and consistent enforcement of Zero Tolerance discipline. Students are reminded of behavior expectations and positive character traits at all school assemblies and rallies as well as within their classroom setting.

Red Bank Elementary provides students opportunities to be involved in community service efforts by such activities as: A Taste of Home, which was a community service effort organized by a sixth grade classroom in which other classrooms on campus contributed. This community service project filled shoe boxes with such items as: candy, beef jerky, razors and shaving cream, toothbrushes and toothpaste, coffee, cookies, stamps, writing material, a class letter and a class picture. These shoeboxes were delivered to KDUV FM radio station and then shipped to service men and women in Iraq.

A year-long community service project that the entire school is involved in benefits the Ronald McDonald House for Children’s Hospital of Central California. [Also] Red Bank teachers, staff, administration, students and community are involved in the American Cancer Society Clovis Relay for Life. A final example of community service/outreach efforts was the 2003-04 Red Bank Student Body Elections. Eighteen Clovis High Leadership students assisted in the voting for the elections by setting up and using voting booths provided by the Fresno County Elections Office.

It is a school-wide teamwork approach that has been most effective in promoting success with the efforts of the classroom teacher to impart positive values to students serving as an integral part of the educational process. It is the teacher’s part as role model and motivator for success that is so essential to student development of character and values.

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Riverview Elementary School
Clovis Unified School District (720 Students, K-6)
Fresno, CA
559-327-8600
Principal: Kristie Wiens

Instruction is the critical work of Riverview’s educators in attaining the primary goal associated with student achievement. This goal is accomplished through relevant curriculum, alignment between what is taught and tested, teacher training focused on powerful lessons, and an instructional supervision model, which assures student-learning everyday in all classrooms, and appropriate assessments which guide instruction. The school staff supports the CHARACTER COUNTS! program which has been adopted as the model that integrates positive ethical values throughout the Riverview school community.

Prior to the opening of Riverview Elementary School in August 2002, the planning process included multiple meetings with parents, teachers, and students to define and discuss the vision for the school through which a strong emphasis on student achievement and character education evolved in creating a safe, positive school climate. Through these discussions, the elements of the school-wide program began to unfold, aligned with the CUSD adopted Josephson Institute of Ethics, CHARACTER COUNTS! program. It established a clear understanding of the pillars of character….

Riverview’s themes are created and highlighted throughout each school year. Themes such as “Rams are Charging to Success, Quality Shines at Riverview, CHARACTER COUNTS! at Riverview, and Rams Rock!” are displayed in classrooms and referred to in assemblies, rallies, award ceremonies, announcements, and classroom activities….

The Riverview Educational Team encourages students to view the administration as another resource for help and as a further model of character education Riverview promotes. The principal visits each class periodically throughout the year to encourage ethical decision-making. The Riverview Rules are reinforced: Remember Character Counts, Always Your Personal Best, Meet Your Goals, Success For All. These rules guide children through the educational process and form the structure for all student interactions throughout the year.

Classroom environments provide opportunities for examination, discussion and reflection of the attributes of character. Students collaborate in the classroom on projects, assignments, and study sessions that afford them daily opportunities to practice appropriate interpersonal behavior.

Report cards provide an opportunity for teachers to evaluate a student’s social and behavioral attitudes in grades K-6. Parents learn how their child is progressing in the areas of respect, self-control cooperation, playground behavior, and responsibility. Teachers assess needs for specific character related re-emphasis in their classroom.

Riverview students play active roles in influencing classroom and school policy. Students learn the fundamentals of student government through the Student Council. After candidates deliver speeches to the student body, students in grades 4-6 participate in and election process to elect seven officers each semester and classroom representatives are nominated by peers for each semester. The Student Council serves as a vehicle for students to understand parliamentary procedures of government and judicial meetings as well as to understand student governance, differences of opinion, and how to value the democratic process. Student Council has sponsored school-wide community service projects and activities such as Coats for Kids, Toys for Tots, Pennies for Patients, Ronald McDonald pull-tab collection, holiday food drives for Pinedale Elementary School, clean campus activities, Jog-A-Thon, Red Ribbon Week, Muffins With Mom, Donuts with Dad, Pizza Nights, Talent Show, and fun days such as Crazy Hair Day, Mismatch Day, Pajama Day, Twins Day.

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Saroyan Elementary School
Central Unified School District (756 Students, K-6)
Fresno, CA
559-276-3131
Principal: Amy Teeter

At the beginning of the year the Parent Club developed a time line for focusing on specific core values. Every month teachers select a student whose behavior is representative of that month’s trait. Those students are featured in the monthly parent newsletter and receive a “Character Counts” pencil from PFC.

The development of our character counts program is representative of parents and staff working together. At Saroyan we acknowledge that character development is an ongoing process and before this school year comes to an end, we will begin developing a new time line for next year.

At Saroyan parents and students alike support our uniform dress code. We believe that our students sit a little straighter, help each other a little more often, and treat everyone with a higher degree of respect. Teachers use a variety of incentives that often encourage positive behaviors in our students. These include “Caught Being Good” tickets, popcorn parties, homework passes and ice cream parties, just to name a few. Classroom lessons feature “Star Students”, allowing the student to bring items from home giving insight into who they are. We believe that this process fosters self-esteem. Multicultural activities promote a healthy respect for our diverse population.

Students and nearby neighbors help keep vandalism to a minimum. The few times that we’ve had graffiti, the staff has worked diligently to remove or cover up the mess as soon as possible. Because of an e-mail connection with the police officer at the neighboring Middle School, we were able to identify and discipline an offender. Just recently we have a Chaplin on campus, trained by the Sheriff’s department, available to students and staff offering an additional set of eyes and ears.

Daily on our campus, students serve as cafeteria helpers, crossing guards and peer tutors. During any given week it is not uncommon to find an upper grade class paired with a primary class reading together. Students also serve as Student Council representatives and work together to play student activities throughout the year. They also approve expenditures of money generated from ice cream sales.

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Vandalia Elementary School
Porterville Unified School District (820 Students, K-6)
Porterville, CA
559-782-7260
Principal: Angel Valdez

As you turn right off 190 onto Plano, you will be entering CHARACTER COUNTS! Territory when you turn right onto College Ave. Near the corner you will begin to see evidence of our goals and standards at Vandalia School. The large sign near the corner introduces Vandalia School and shows the six pillars of Character Counts! As you move down the street you will notice signage on the ends of three buildings, on top of our buildings and our school marquee which all support CC! standards.

As visitors walk up to the office door they see a large glass display case that showcases our students, school achievements and students that show good character. This last year a student from Monache High, Adam Sanchez, painted a large mural covered with clear plastic. The mural shows a Vandalia Viking with the six pillars surrounding him. The students take great pride in sharing this mural with visitors and parents. We had a special program to dedicate and unveil the mural. The students till talk about it.

As you move to the outdoor hallways you will see road signs naming each hallway. You are greeted by Trustworthy Rd., Respect Blvd., Responsibility Dr., Fairness St., Caring Ave., and Citizenship Ave. These street signs promote the six pillars of good character. Visit our cafeteria and you will see pictures of the CHARACTER COUNTS! figures, students of the month on one wall; a wall of artwork done by our after-school program students and colorful banners that constantly remind our students that good character counts. You will also see pictures of students on the Wall of Fame. All of the above have given the school a common language. You hear students and staff both making statements about, “what good character you have!” “Teacher, he is not showing respect.”

This is our third year in the CHARACTER COUNTS! program and our staff is totally committed to the ideas of CC! We continue to in-service new staff and review with continuing staff…. We are working on building a strong program to promote and recognize good character…. As you visit our classrooms you will see work encouraging good character and hear words encouraging everyone to show good character. Each class has colorful posters of the six pillars, incentive packs, and bulletin board sets to be used during lessons that teach the theme of the month.

Staff integrates the pillar [of the month] wherever they find it—recognizing it in the classroom, while discussing a story’s characters, or on the playground, working in their groups and their daily lessons.

The staff and students of Vandalia are proud of the clean, secure learning environment our campus provides. We help to promote this with our Pride Patrol which each fourth through sixth grade class participates on a weekly basis. This insures that our school is clean and safe. Any problems are reported to the V.P. who then has the custodian take care of the problems that the Pride Patrol reports. We have started Safety Commissioners, who will patrol the halls and restrooms to help make our school feel safe.

Collaborative groups are seen working together in all our grade levels. You will see these groups working in all subject areas, but especially language arts, math, and science. You may see a third grade group working with pattern blocks to determine the perimeter of a shape, or a first grade group working on patterns with color tiles…. In science you will see fourth grad through sixth grade students working on science fair projects. We have a parent night for students and parents to work together, at school, on their science projects.

It is important for all children to learn to work as part of a group that values each other’s opinions. This is very important for growth of self-esteem. Self-esteem affects all areas of a child’s education whether it be academic or social growth. Our teachers strive to be very positive. We set high standards for our students.

While the first year of implementation was largely devoted to developing a clear understanding of the core ethical values of CC! and building a common vocabulary from which the staff, students and their parents could communicate, the last two years have marked a turning point where the community of Vandalia could put into practice what we have all learned about being people of good character.

As educators we teach character everyday; our students constantly watch to see if we are honest and fair, if we do what we say we will do. The staff of Vandalia realize that character development is a lifelong process for students of all ages. We believe that when we help our students to better comprehend and practice good character traits they are better prepared for success in school and throughout life.

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Washington Elementary School
Hanford Elementary School District (551 Students, K-6)
Hanford, CA
559-585-2322
Principal: Marcie Guthrie

A culture in which students take ownership of and responsibility for the positive, energetic, innovative atmosphere distinguishes Washington Elementary School…. Washington is a School Wide Program Title I school serving a diverse population…. Parental involvement is an important part of designing a comprehensive and thoughtful school culture. It is crucial that all families feel connected to their child’s education. At parent conferences every teacher carefully reviews each child’s performance based on benchmarks as they work towards meeting and exceeding state standards. This is a key opportunity to communicate with parents about where their child is in relation to attaining grade-level standards, and collaborate with them on individualized learning plans. This is done by providing standards-based report cards, copies of academic standards, district-wide performance assessments, and examples of student class work, Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA), and samples of exemplar papers. Along with conferences, teachers communicate frequently with parents using daily assignment books, weekly progress reports, and regular classroom newsletters.

Parents and community members feel a part of the greater Washington culture. Consequently, all Washington events are consistently well attended. From Back to School Night in the fall to Open House in the spring and every event in between, parents show up consistently.

In 2002-2003 Washington initiated a Peer mediation program under the direction of and in partnership with California State University, Fresno Professor Dr. Pam Lane-Garon. Dr. Lane-Garon trained Washington using a well-proven model and handbook, Building a Peaceful Community. Peer mediation is a conflict resolution education model in which students are trained in communication and dispute resolution skills necessary to prevent altercations from escalating. These strategies also stress tolerance and appreciation of divergent views…. The peer mediation program is an example of service learning at Washington. Last year there were over 300 successful peer mediations. By-products of having a peer mediation program for the entire school culture are fairness, respect, responsibility and trustworthiness.

In 2002-2003, peer mediation reduced the number of escalated conflicts at Washington…. Another positive impact was the significant number of students who served as peer mediators in 2002-2003 and retuned in 2003-2004 to continue their service. Currently, sixty Washington third through sixth grade students serve as peer mediators.

Actively teaching social skills is part of the Washington curriculum. By the end of September the Student Advocate trains all students using developmentally appropriate materials and videos on student safety and wellbeing. All students new to the school receive this training during monthly follow-up sessions. One issue in the training is bullying. There is evidence that this training has been successful as students are using the language when reporting discipline issues to adults, “Johnny is being a bully; he’s calling me names.”

In an effort to cultivate school spirit, in January 2004 all students were invited to participate in a flag contest. The winning entry will be made into a flag that will be flown below the California State flag each day at Washington. The response to this competition was overwhelming and a panel of school staff and community members chose a winner.

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F.J. White Learning Center
Woodlake Union Elementary School District (543 Students, K-2)
Woodlake, CA
559-564-8021
Principal: Terrence Keller

F.J. White Learning Center is a kindergarten through second grade school of approximately 545 students in the Woodlake Union School District…. There are currently 10 classrooms for Kindergarten, 9 for first grade, and 10 for second grade. The CHARACTER COUNTS! program was added to the school student recognition program as a means to promote positive citizenship values and reinforce student behaviors epitomizing the pillars of the CHARACTER COUNTS! program. Through the integration of the CHARACTER COUNTS! program, the teachers and staff are able to promote the values that build self-esteem which “is at the heart of success.”

Teacher resources for character education ideas and lessons were purchased and made available for staff use. Teachers are encouraged to teach mini-lessons based on the theme each month.

Families of students and staff have been given opportunities to provide input regarding the school and its facilities and programs through various meetings, surveys and personal contacts by the principal. Suggestions by staff and parents led to the integration of the CHARACTER COUNTS! program into the existing student recognition program. Parents are encouraged to be involved in their child’s education through service on various school committees, volunteering in the classroom and participation in activities such as “Second Cup of Coffee”, “Raisin Readers” (where students and their parents attend an evening reading night in the school library and receive information about the school’s reading program, read with their children and are treated to raisins) and Family Math nights. This year, parents will be invited to a “Reading Round Up” night in honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday.

The staff works tirelessly to promote a positive school climate. Students and parents arriving on campus are greeted with a cheery “GOOD MORNING” by the school staff including the principal…. The facilitator of the school reading program contributes to the positive school climate by organizing events such as the “Eye Glass Club” for children who wear glasses, a year-end swim party for students who have demonstrated the pillar of “Responsibility” by completing their reading homework throughout the year, and a quarterly “Lunch With the principal” for those students completing their reading homework for the month.

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Promising Practices from the 2002 Virtues and Character Award Winning Schools

(Excerpts from the applications)

 

Alta Vista Elementary School (520 Students, K-8)
Porterville, CA 93257
559-782-5700
Principal: Mr. Paul Cannon

Any visitor to Alta Vista School will see that our CHARACTER COUNTS! Program is intentional and proactive in making character education a school-wide phenomenon for all students in all grade levels as demonstrated by the following examples:

  • Weekly CHARACTER COUNTS! Classroom meetings, lessons and internalization of CHARACTER COUNTS! traits into "main idea" of listening and reading comprehension activities
  • Students' Declaration of Character Development at the start of each school day
  • Students lagging in character development are coupled with adult mentors (role models)
  • After school program expanded to include CHARACTER COUNTS! Activities
  • Ten hours of community service required to graduate from 8th grade
  • CHARACTER COUNTS! Recognition to students at assemblies, in classrooms and in newspapers
  • "Caught with Character" assemblies for students demonstrating CHARACTER COUNTS! traits
  • Campus murals, electronic message board in the cafeteria, banners in all classrooms
  • Peace Path (conflict resolution) painted on outside pavement at three locations on campus

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Burton Elementary School (600 Students, K-5)
Porterville, CA 93257
559-784-2401
Principal: Ms. Michelle Pengilly

CHARACTER COUNTS! runs deep at Burton elementary. Students know that the community service projects are correlated to good character and represent one of the pillars. Many classrooms taketurns adopting different areas of the campus to keep clean and neat! Rewards aren't necessary when it comes to the beautification of our campus! Students respect the grounds they play on and take care of the grounds to keep them clean and safe for all. Students have also supported a recycling program to earn new lunch tables for the outside area! Every Tuesday students bring recyclables from home with the help of their parents and help earn money towards the purchases of new equipment to build a better campus. So far the students have raised over $1,500.00!

For three years, Burton has participated in several community projects that promoted good character and made all who participated proud of the end results. One major project collected pennies from home to donate to children with leukemia. Another project, Caps for Kids!, was a project where students decorated new and old hats that were then sent to Valley children's Hospital for children undergoing chemotherapy.

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Clovis Elementary School (599 Students, K-6)
Clovis, CA 93711
559-327-6100
Principal: Mr. Robert Hansen

Each classroom participates in the "Pass the Pillar" program. The teacher starts the program by catching a student in an act of good character and presenting the student with a miniature pillar to place on their desk. That student must then pass the pillar on to another student caught doing good deeds. Students learn to recognize and value ethical behavior.

The most important component of our character education program is our year-round commitment to community service. The spirit of giving starts with our generous staff. From our assistant principal measuring a child's foot with a ruler and then going out to buy tennis shoes that fit, to our school nurse who buys groceries with her own money so some of our hungry kids can have an extra snack, acts of generosity occur every day.

Some of the many projects undertaken by our classrooms include: Coats for Kids; Toys for Tots; Kitten Sponsorship and cat food donations to the California Feline Foundation; donations to the American Red Cross; necessity bundles for the Poverello House; singing at local convalescent homes.

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Crowley Elementary School (680 Students, K-6)
Visalia, CA 93291
559-730-7758
Principal: Tammy Gonzalez

Crowley Elementary School has committed funds for the continuation of character education as well as building and expanding the program with the enthusiastic support of staff, students and parents. Bulletin boards in the cafeteria, posters and essays in the classroom and the marquee in front of the school set the tone and broadcast the theme that is the foundation of spirit of the school. Discipline measures also reflect that these traits are valued and provide the cornerstone of high expectations that administrators and staff support in the classroom, cafeteria and on the playground. During school detention students are assigned various writing assignments based on descriptions of the pillars, what they mean to the climate of our school, and how those traits are observable in various settings at our school.

The students at Crowley School are active participants in the beautification of the campus. Staff members and students have worked side-by-side cleaning flowerbeds, removing old growth and planting flowerbeds that line the walkway entrance. Students voluntarily pick up trash during their recesses and encourage each other to keep the site free of unsightly refuse. Since the character education program has become part of the campus philosophy, students have taken more pride in their school and there has been a marked decrease in graffiti and littering.

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Fort Washington Elementary School (725 Students, K-6)
Clovis, CA 93720
559-327-6600
Principal: Ms. Debra Parra

Over the years, our GOOD DEED Tickets have reinforced the value of random acts of kindness. Children "caught being good" enter their GOOD DEED Tickets into a weekly raffle. Six children are randomly selected from the raffle bins and recognized over our Friday video announcements. In addition, our CHARACTER COUNTS! coordinator brings her bag of goodies to the playground and distributes pencils, stickers, or erasers to students who correctly answer her "character quiz" questions.

A Peer Mediation program has been initiated. One classroom teacher and our school psychologist teamed to provide 12 weeks of peer mediation training to a select group of 29 students in grades 3-5. These Fort Friends help new students make adjustments, befriend isolated students, and help resolve minor conflicts on the yard.

Our entire school community offered heartfelt assistance to the bereft survivors of the tragedies in New York and Washington, DC. Fort Washington: adopted the 144th Fighter Wing of the Air National Guard; donated nickels for New York and Coins of Caring; sent a donation in response to President Bush's plea to aid the children of Afghanistan; wrote letters of gratitude to New York firefighters; and much more.

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Fremont Elementary School (399 Students, 3rd - 5th)
Fowler, CA 93625
559-834-1691
Principal: Mr. Glen Billington

Beth Feaver, our mentor teacher for Character Education, has collected character lessons done by teachers in our district (K-5) that are tied into the California State Content Standards. These lessons were compiled and disseminated to all district teachers in a binder.

Our 5th grade held a mock election. This gave our students the opportunity to actually go through the registering and voting process. The best part of this election was that the students conducted every step of the election including registering voters, giving speeches as candidates, setting up polling places, working the election booths and counting votes. This provided our students the opportunity to see how the process works.

This resulted in several service learning projects last year, such as one classroom's participation in the Shoe Box project; a 3rd grade classroom which brought items to put in backpacks to be sent to a child through Kid Care international; a group of 5th grade girls who formed a Service Club to help in the community; and a project to make a Veterans Quilt to honor the veterans in our school community.

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Golden Valley Elementary School (495 Students, K-6)
Orosi, CA 93647
559-528-9004
Principal: Robert Chavez

Golden Valley has purchased sets of literature with the Six pillars of Character themes. These books have been placed in the library and are available for classroom checkout.

Students of the Month are selected every month to be honored and recognized. Teachers choose students based on the demonstration of one of the Six pillars of Character. Their pictures are then displayed in the school cafeteria and they are rewarded with lunch sponsored by our local McDonald's Restaurant. The Dinuba Sentinel newspaper also prints their names and photos. Golden Valley's signature character recognition award is the Golden Valley Lions medallion which is given to students who meet the requirements of exemplary character, academic and civic achievement as stated in the Golden Valley Elementary School agenda.

Golden Valley has a very active leadership Team which began the year with over 40 volunteer members. The leadership Team is responsible for creating, planning and implementing school-wide activities including movie night; planning activity days and classroom caroling during holiday season; collecting cans of food for the needy during Thanksgiving; making Gingerbread puppets for preschool students; and, writing "letters of kindness' to teachers, family, friends and community members they felt had made a significant impact on their lives.

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Jefferson Elementary School (455 Students, K-6)
Sanger, CA 93657
559-875-7851
Principal: Mr. Matt Navo

Jefferson Elementary became a 'Community of Caring' school during the 1996-97 school year. At our Monday morning flag salute students are reminded of the value we are focusing on and informed of any upcoming Community of Caring activities. Trimester awards assemblies are a time where reading and math awards are given, and Community of Caring awards recognizing outstanding character are also awarded.

The staff of Jefferson Elementary utilizes various activities to promote positive social development, group cohesion and caring and respect for others. This year, our principal implemented the "Golden Broom", where classrooms take turns being responsible for ensuring that our campus is kept clean. Students take an active role in this and take their responsibility quite seriously. Our reading buddies program pairs younger students with older peers. For the past several years our students have sold the Kid's Day Edition of the Fresno Bee to raise money for Valley Children's hospital. Our first grade students made Christmas cards for our local convalescent hospital and visited the hospital and sang Christmas carols for the residents. The student leadership committee sponsored a Random Act of Kindness for the Jefferson staff. We provide a sit down breakfast for the staff as a thank you for all they do for the students and families of Jefferson. Students assisted in preparing and serving the breakfast.

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Malaga Elementary School (201 Students, K-5)
Fowler, CA 93625
559-834-2591
Principal: Ms. Arpi Keledjian

All grade levels at Malaga School participate in the Character Education program. As a part of the science and math study in the upper grades, character education comes into play with drug prevention education reinforced by an officer from the Fresno County Sheriff's Department. And as an example of cross curriculum values instruction, Malaga teachers have widened the pillar of Respect to include respect for the environment and conservation. The Second Step program designed to teach violence prevention, develop empathy for others, cooperation, anger management and problem-solving skills is also in place. Pam Tesmer, a Malaga teacher, developed a responsibility program specifically designed for students in the middle grades as they become more loaded down with homework and need to work independently in class. Students in grads K-3 are screened for inclusion in the primary intervention Program. That program assists children who have school adjustment difficulties through one-on-one interactive play with a trained practitioner. Upper grade teachers have infused character education in the physical education program as they have taught teams to cooperate toward a goal, how to disagree appropriately and how to be a good sport. The principal has provided teachers with "Teaching Tolerance", a magazine that focuses on diversity and provides examples of fairness, equity and caring and respect for others.

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Marshall Elementary School (350 Students, K-2)
Fowler, CA 93625
559-834-2915
Principal: Mr. Jim Flake

A Safety patrol was implemented to assist with monitoring the corridors. Second graders are selected to monitor appropriate conduct in the halls. Students are selected for safety patrol based on their good behavior, completion of assignments, and school attendance.

Core values are taught in monthly themes. Teachers weave these values into existing lessons as appropriate. The intention of creating character education was to integrate these positive concepts into the already existing curriculum rather than to add additional lessons to the day.

At the end of the quarter an Awards Assembly is held. Parents are notified of this honor in a written letter from the principal. During the awards assembly, the child's teacher presents the certificate to the child while the principal reads a rationale written by the teacher describing why this child was deserving of this honor.

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Nelson Elementary School (607 Students, K-6)
Clovis, CA 93650
559-327-7600
Principal: Ms. Isabel Facio

Developmentally, Nelson students are taught character virtues at their level. Character curriculum taught at each grade level is targeted to the students' level. As student moves through the grade levels, the curriculum builds upon past knowledge and lessons. In a sense, all that is learned about good character traits is culminated at our sixth grade camp trip to the Regional Learning Center in Sonora. Our final activity in Sonora is a "Ropes" course in which sixth grade students must be able to "work as a team" and be able to "trust" their fellow classmates. These relationships built through trust, caring, respect, and fairness will last a lifetime.

Each morning during the daily school-wide announcements, administrators and students cite examples of good character and state the character of the month. Within the classroom, students benefit from cooperative grouping and study literature related to character building. Students study heroes, community leaders, and famous people in history and discuss and inspire admiration for their character traits. We annually host a Multi-cultural Festival for the students and community guests.

The Exemplary Roadrunner Award (Block "N") is the highest award a student may earn at nelson Elementary. The criteria for this award reflect well-rounded participation and service as well as achievement. This award brings together the expectation at Nelson for students to develop in mind, body and spirit.

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Pixley Union Elementary School (860 Students, K-8)
Pixley, CA 93256
559-757-3131
Principal: Mr. Ted Thomas

The mission of Pixley School is to foster academic excellence, self-esteem and responsibility by maintaining an exciting, safe, supportive and challenging environment in which staff and students can work and learn.

A group of 5th and 6th grade students designed and painted a CHARACTER COUNTS! mural at the end of a classroom building which faces the playground.

The Pixley Student Council distributes monthly posters to every classroom at the beginning of the month. Students spend time defining the behaviors of the selected pillar and classes give examples of defined behavior they could practice.

Our Student of the month program distributes a Tulare County CHARACTER COUNTS! T-shirt to one student in every classroom every month of the school year.

A prevention specialist instructs an anti-bullying curriculum to 1st - 3rd grade students.

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., Acts of Kindness were practiced school-wide during the month of January and submitted to the Pixley Student Council.

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Vandalia Elementary School (754 Students, K-6)
Porterville, Ca. 93257
559-782-7260
Principal: Mr. Angel Valdez

The students and staff wear their Vandalia Viking shirts on Friday. CHARACTER COUNTS! day is every Monday and staff and students wear the shirts they have earned. Our student Council has a store that raises money to pay for murals to be painted on the school walls. Collaborative groups are seen working together in all our grade levels. A third grade group may be working with pattern blocks to determine the perimeter of a shape; a first grade group working on patters with color tiles; a fourth grade group working on missions or California reports. In science, fourth grade through sixth grade student groups can be seen working on science fair projects. Student Council members are elected twice a year. These student government representatives work together to provide fun and character and pride building activities for our campus. They sponsor dress-up days, Red Ribbon Week activities, assemblies, food donations, a school store and assistance in the school office.

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Promising Practices from the 2000 Virtues and Character Award Winning Schools

(Excerpts from the applications)

 

Ann Leavenworth School (994 students)
Fresno, CA

Mrs. Quiring, 5th/6th Grade Teacher at Ann Leavenworth School, wrote about her program:

“Many of our older children have Reading Buddies in the primary grades. This is an excellent opportunity for our students to become role models for our younger students. We discuss before visiting another classroom why it is important to use our best behavior around little children and what it means to be a good role model. This opportunity gives them a taste of what a Cross-Age Tutor does and it encourages them to continue using that good behavior so they can be recommended for that job when they go off track.

“In fifth grade, the social studies and language arts curriculum lends itself very well to character education. For example, during our study about the colonial era, there are many lessons in our textbook that involve children helping their parents. This initiates a discussion about ways students can help their parents at home or ways they can help each other in the classroom.

“There are also opportunities to study character qualities such as justice and civic virtue when we study the slavery issue, the Statue of Liberty or the Declaration of Independence. My students recently read the book, Blue Willow, a story about a young girl who was a migrant worker. This story provided an opportunity to explore peer acceptance. Students discussed the character's feelings and why she felt out of place. We talked about how they would feel if they were in her shoes. Students were then able to write a paragraph describing different ways they could help a new student feel accepted and part of our school family.”

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Burroughs Elementary School (1400 students)
Fresno, CA

The school and teacher expectations of student behavior and character development are regularly integrated into the school day. Students participate in the Second Step program, Here's Looking at You drug prevention program, Talking About Touching, the DARE program, and various teacher-led activities including recognition of the contributions and characteristics of great leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Washington, Lincoln, Cesar Chavez, and various other leaders included in the social studies curriculum. The qualities of good character demonstrated by a variety of leaders in our country's history are the subject of essays, readings, and other various studies. Burroughs does an excellent job of recognizing historical figures and connecting their contributions to the students' lives.

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Burton Elementary School (600 students)
Porterville, CA

Burton Elementary School is fortunate to have a Special Friends Program. The program is directed by a full-time staff person. The Special Friends Director has completed, along with two classroom teachers, the Tulare County Office of Education's three-day Character Counts! Development Seminar.

The Special Friends Director has been extremely dedicated and creative in providing opportunities for students to develop and nurture the qualities and behaviors that define a person of good character. The following are outstanding examples of these opportunities:

  1. The entire student body (600 students) participated in “The Pennies For Patients” fundraiser. This school-wide project generated over $1500 dollars for leukemia victims and involved 30 teachers as well as over 1000 parents. The project was done in conjunction with the Pillar of the month program. Quite appropriately the Pillar for the month was 'Caring'.
  2. The “Cool Caps for Kids” is another project for leukemia victims. This program provides Cool Caps for young leukemia patients who have undergone chemotherapy and lost their hair.

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Jefferson Elementary School (715 students)
Dinuba, CA

Students in grades 5 and 6 are eligible to participate in student council. Qualified students are nominated from each of the seven classrooms as representatives. Then, a schoolwide election is held to choose officers. Students make posters and prepare a campaign speech, delivered to eligible grade levels during lunch. Once this process is completed, student council meets to consider issues important to the student body. For the school year 1999-2000, the student council decided to approach Mrs. Haston, the principal, with a request to have ice cream sandwiches added to the ice cream choices available Friday afternoon. Mrs. Haston required the students to research the cost of the sandwiches compared to astropops and crunch bars. Since the sandwiches were slightly more expensive, the student council made several suggestions as to how this could be handled.

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Mountain View Elementary School (659 students)
Clovis, CA

Mountain View provides many opportunities, within a student-centered program, that convey to children the commitment to character and values education. Mountain View's highest award is the Block MV. It is given to students who display well-rounded achievement and participation in the MV academic, co-curricular, and community service activities. Students must earn points in the various areas to demonstrate their ability, dedication, and responsibility in earning this award. The Exemplary Bear Award has been designed so all upper-grade students have an opportunity to earn the award. This requires a yearlong focus to plan and excel each semester. A special evening celebration is held in honor of the recipients.

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Nelson Elementary School (643 students)
Clovis, CA

Nelson School recognizes that character education must be a joint effort between parents, staff, community and students themselves. It is believed that the problems in society today are systemic. Therefore, to help shape the attitudes of students and instill character values, all those involved in the lives of students need to take part. The Clovis Unified School District, as a whole, has adopted the Michael Josephson's Character Counts! School and workplace program promoting character education. On a bimonthly basis, articles on character are published and sent to every student, parent and staff member in the CUSD Today newspaper. Nelson distributes a school newsletter weekly that highlights student activities and accomplishments and reminds students and parents about the “character pillar” of the month. At a recent School Assessment Review Team (SART) meeting parents were presented with the Nelson Character Counts! program. Parents were given the opportunity to comment and make suggestions to help improve the character education program. When nelson implemented the program, teachers were formally trained in Character Counts! And given lesson plans that are used as part of regular classroom instruction.

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Pixley Elementary School (enrollment 850)
Pixley, CA

In a marvelous display of student support, a Character Counts! Mural (which can be seen on the Tulare County Office of Education web site: www.tcoe.org, was painted by members of the student body. The mural faces the playground so that all students, teachers and visitors to Pixley may observe this statement of school and community values.

The Positive Futures program addresses the needs of students displaying aggressive behaviors in grades 1 through 3. The program serves 20 students in group sessions for 14 weeks. The sessions target decision-making strategies that are used in the Character Counts! Program while also emphasizing the Six Pillars of Character as the framework for improving behavior. This program is facilitated by a Character Counts! trained prevention specialist. The prevention specialist continues to track the students through the peer mediation program which she also facilitates.

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Sun Empire Elementary School (850 students)
Kerman, CA

Our Peer Mediation program teaches students communication and mediation techniques, skills that improve ability to work effectively and cooperatively with others. Each year approximately 35 fifth and sixth grade students are selected by their peers for potential success as mediators. They attend two days of training planned and provided by advisor/teachers who attended the training through Fresno Pacific University. Upon completion, students wear bright yellow T-shirts on campus during recess so that other students can recognize them. They are available to help resolve disputes before they need the attention of adults. As Peer Mediators apply their skills, they teach other students. Peer mediators also assist with the Student of the Month ceremonies by setting up and serving snacks. The peer mediator advisors, along with the students in that program, plan all their activities, goals and training.