Eleven Old Bridge Education Programs Earn Promising Practice Awards by Character.org  

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    Eleven Old Bridge education programs, demonstrating effective strategies that develop good character in youngsters, received Promising Practice awards by Character.org for 2019. 


    Programs submitted by Carl Sandburg Middle School; Jonas Salk Middle School; Old Bridge High School; Leroy Gordon Cooper, Memorial, Virgil I. Grissom, and William A. Miller elementary schools; and two practices apiece from Walter M. Schirra and Raymond E. Voorhees elementary schools were invited to share information about the success of their practices during the annual poster session at the Character.org National Forum. This year, the theme is “Navigating Character Journeys” because character development is a lifelong process. The Forum will convene Oct. 24-27, at the Marriott Wardman Park in Washington, DC. 


    The winning Promising Practices are:  

    • Administrator Out-of-Office Days, Carl Sandburg Middle School. One day a month, each administrator spends an entire day serving as a co-teacher with different teachers. The administrator co-teaches, working directly with students and teachers as an active participant in the classroom.
    • Peer Family Night, Jonas Salk Middle School. Peer students developed a communication-based program titled “Let’s Talk”. The event is held during annual Family Night for sixth grade students and their parents. The program is designed to open lines of communication between parents and their children as well as parents with each other.
    • OBHS Walk in Our Shoes, Old Bridge High School. OBHS faculty and staff volunteered to pair with a faculty/staff member to walk a mile around the school.  The purpose is to deepen, strengthen, and build relationships within the high school family.
    • Positive Postcards, Leroy Gordon Cooper Elementary School. Students and staff collaborated on the design for the “Something Wonderful Happened at Cooper” today postcard, which reflects the school’s diverse population, and its mascot, Coop the Crab. All staff (including teachers, nurse, secretary, custodian, bus drivers) receive enough postcards to send home at various times throughout the year to highlight a wonderful moment, which they witnessed or took part in. The postcards are mailed to the home. Also, the principal sends home postcards to staff families (some to parents, some to children, some to spouses) telling of wonderful tales of their days. 
    • Husky’s Healthy Peddlers, Memorial Elementary School. The program strives to improve the overall social climate of the school. The practice focuses on involving student driven research and education on bicycle safety; students work collaboratively to recognize the benefits of bicycling.  The goal of the program is to acquire a developmentally appropriate bicycle and helmet for each student at Memorial.  The culminating event will be a Junior Unity Tour to be held in the Spring.
    • Getting Gatorized, Virgil I Grissom Elementary School. The program is a way to help fifth graders begin to become more organized, easing their transition to the middle school.
    • Miller Kids Konnect, William A. Miller Elementary School. The school has built a partnership with the Reformed Church Senior Home in Old Bridge, with the goal of connecting students and residents. The students have assisted residents with arts and crafts and the creation of Friendship Rocks. The residents came to Miller for a technology lesson on Sway and for the school’s Holiday Sing Along.
    • Tiger’s Den, Walter M. Schirra Elementary School. The Tiger’s Den is a school store run by students in the self-contained Autism program at the school. It promotes and fosters inclusive teamwork.   Through the school store, the students strengthen functional skills such as counting money, giving change, and greeting customers.
    • Schirra’s Kindness Ambassador, Walter M. Schirra Elementary School. Students are recognized daily by their peers and/or staff for being kind. When recognized, students receive Schirra Kindness Ambassador badges.  Every Friday, the students are recognized over the PA system. and they sign the wall. They also receive certificates to bring home stating, “Ask me why I signed the wall.”
    • Family Learning Night, Raymond E. Voorhees Elementary School. One night a year, the staff coordinates interactive experiences for students and their families.  The group participates in activities relating to reading, math, and STEM.
    • Read Patrol, Raymond E. Voorhees Elementary School. This program promotes independent reading.  Students are encouraged to read nightly and submit documentation.  One student per grade level is selected to receive a visit from the Read Patrol, a group of teachers who surprise students at their homes after school hours to commend their reading activities.  The PTA sponsors prizes for the students.


    In 2019, Character.org awarded 232 Promising Practices to schools, districts and youth-serving organizations in the United States as well as internationally.


    This year’s practices include unique approaches to comprehensive character development, peer mediation and conflict resolution approaches, effective strategies for developing leadership, and service-learning activities that build community.


    Each practice must be tied to one or more of Character.org’s 11 Principles of Character Education.  Character.org is a national, nonprofit group based in Washington, DC that works with schools and districts to educate, inspire, and empower young people to be ethical and engaged citizens. The organization is led by educators who are dedicated to teaching youth how to be both smart and good through the advancement of quality character development in all schools.   


    Character.org sponsors the annual program to showcase innovative best practices that demonstrate impacts across the nation and abroad.  Charater.org encourages educators with similar needs to learn from and even replicate these initiatives.   


    This year the application fees for the 2019 Promising Practices in Old Bridge were paid for through community sponsors.  They include: Ivy Master, Azzinaro’s Pizza, JEI Learning Center, JAG Physical Therapy, Jerry Weinfeld, Prep2XL, JEI Learning Center, Tony Cid, The Cid Agency – Allstate, Hackensack Meridian, Lynn Rampino - Keller Williams, K&W Family Dental, Frank J. Mandarino, chiropractor, and Palms Plaza.


    Assistant Superintendent Kathleen Hoeker commended staff and students for their Best Practices awards.


    “Our Old Bridge teams continue to set the example as they share their expertise nationwide,” said Hoeker. “I am proud of our accomplishments and willingness to broadcast successful practices for all to benefit from.”


    Hoeker was principal at Madison Park Elementary School when it earned recognition as a School of Character; she also is a former principal of the Alan B. Shepard Elementary School,  Old Bridge School District’s first National School of Character, and she has led teams to bring character education to the district’s 12 elementary schools, two middle schools, and the high school. Four years ago, the Old Bridge Township Public School District was named one of three National Districts of Character in the United States by character.org.