Friday, February 3, 2023
A Message from Newsletter Editor Linda Waldbaum
Last month, we celebrated the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who saw the role of public education as “to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of a true education.” As educators, we understand the content we teach is only part of what we do in the classroom - from kindergarten all the way through twelfth grade. Diligence, perseverance, integrity, and respect are just some of the core values that we reinforce everyday. However, students are more likely to practice these values if they are immersed in an environment that explicitly defines these core values. The practice of these values are consistent from class to class, across grade levels, and even present within our extra-curricular activities. In an effort to unify Plainedge Schools’ character education, teachers and administrators are working collaboratively to develop a culture that permeates throughout all five buildings.
Character.org is an organization which offers schools support in achieving this goal. Founded in 1993, this organization has published 11 Principles Framework for Schools - A Guide to Cultivating a Culture of Character. This document was developed by school leaders and character education researchers and outlines steps schools can take to establish core values, which become the foundation of their character education program. Schools who successfully implement the 11 principles, document evidence of these principles being implemented, and evaluate outcomes of their program receive recognition as a National School of Character.
Our District is in the early stages of implementing these 11 principles:
- Principle 1: Core values are defined, implemented, and embedded into school culture
- Principle 2: School defines “character” comprehensively to include thinking, feeling, and doing.
- Principle 3: The school uses a comprehensive, intentional, and proactive approach to develop character.
- Principle 4: The school creates a caring community
- Principle 5: The school provides students with opportunities for moral action
- Principle 6: The school offers a meaningful and challenging academic curriculum that respects all learners, develops their character and helps them succeed.
- Principle 7: The school fosters students’ self-motivation
- Principle 8: All staff share the responsibility for developing, implementing, and modeling ethical character
- Principle 9: The school’s character initiatives has shared leadership and long-range support for continuous improvement
- Principle 10: The school engages families and community as partners in the character initiative.
- Principle 11: The school assesses its implementation of character education, its culture and climate, and the character growth of students on a regular basis.
As per Principle 1, Plainedge has defined our core values as P.R.I.D.E. Each letter in our acronym stands for character traits the District-wide committee felt were important in developing a positive school culture and nurturing the type of behaviors we would like to see in our students:
- Positive in our attitudes, behaviors, choices, and mindset.
- Respectful to all people, ideas, property, and ourselves.
- Inclusive of all and act with integrity to do what is right because it is right.
- Dedicated and determined to do our best because it makes anything possible.
- Empowered to have high expectations for ourselves as global citizens.
We are in the initial stages of implementing our core values and becoming a nationally recognized “School of Character”. PFT members and administrators have begun the process of identifying current practices within each building, grade level and department as the first steps toward receiving this honorable distinction.
As we move through the rest of this year and plan for future years, always keep in mind that character education is just as important as the content we teach on a daily basis. While all of our PFT members certainly maintain high standards for behavior within their own classrooms, this new system allows for uniformity of language and behavioral expectations throughout Plainedge. To truly succeed as educators, we must provide content for both character and intellectual growth. Plainedge P.R.I.D.E. will certainly help move us in this direction.