Three Old Bridge Elementary Programs Earn 2016 Promising Practice Awards by Character.org
Three Old Bridge education programs, demonstrating effective strategies that develop good character in youngsters, received Promising Practice awards by Character.org for 2016.
Leroy Gordon Cooper Elementary School, Memorial Elementary School, and Alan B. Shepard Elementary School will be honored on Oct. 14 and Oct. 15 at the National Forum on Character Education in Washington, DC.
The Promising Practices program highlights what is going well in classrooms. 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 awarded 327 Promising Practices to schools, districts and youth-serving groups from the US, Canada, China, Colombia, and Mexico this year.
Character.org sponsors the annual program to showcase innovative best practices that demonstrate impacts across the nation and abroad. Character.org encourages educators with similar needs to learn from and even replicate these initiatives.
“These great ideas highlight the creative efforts of amazing teachers all across America – and the world,” said Dave Keller, program director at Character.org. “It’s great to recognize what’s going well in the classroom. These practices represent practical, effective ways to develop empathy, enhance conflict resolution skills, and inspire good citizenship.”
Cooper School received the award for the "Readers of the Pack" program, which was created to address the needs of the school's growing English as a Second Language (ESL) population. Students practiced their writing and oral skills as they discussed and learned appropriate ways of interacting with animals and people unfamiliar to them. Once a month, Monmouth County SPCA volunteer teams visited Cooper School so the students could work in concert with the dogs to develop their literacy and confidence.
Memorial School was awarded the 2016 Promising Practice for its “Husky Pawing Pillow”. The student body came up with the idea to create and craft a project that would help alleviate common stressors that students experience at school. ?The Husky Pawing Pillow was designed and created by students with the help of senior citizens to assist the students with calming techniques through the use of different textures and a manipulative.? The Husky Pawing Pillow was first introduced to the second- and third-grade, self-contained special education classroom and expanded to other schools in the district. Teachers discreetly cued students? to move to the station or provide the pillow to the student in their own area.?By utilizing the pillow, students worked toward calming and regulation of stressors and challenges.?
Shepard School was one of the 326 recipients of the 2016 Promising Practices for its “Abilities Awareness” project. The school organized various activities that fostered relationships between students with disabilities and their peers. Students created and ran demonstrations for their peers that simulated such disabilities as dyslexia, apraxia, and visual-perceptual disorders. This year the school also partnered with the Special Olympics to bring unified sports to its fourth and fifth graders
Assistant Superintendent Kathleen Hoeker commended staff and students for their Best Practices awards. Hoeker was principal at Madison Park when the school earned recognition as a District of Character; she also is a former principal of the Alan B. Shepard School, the 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. Last year, the Old Bridge Township Public School District was named one of three National Districts of Character in the United States by character.org.
“I continue to be impressed but not surprised by the dedication and determination of our staff and students as they find ways to maintain an inclusive environment with an emphasis on tolerance, compassion, and empathy,” said Hoeker. “Our staff and students have great ideas and the staff encourages our students to take on leadership roles as they bring these ideas full circle and establish sustainable ‘Best Practices’.”