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Old Bridge Township Public Schools Named 2015 National District of Character

Old Bridge Township Public Schools Named 2015 National District of Character OBHS, Five Elementary Schools Receive 2015 National School of Character Honors

The Old Bridge Township Public Schools received national recognition this week by character.org.

It was named one of three National Districts of Character in the United States by character.org. In addition, five elementary schools and Old Bridge High School were each named a National School of Character. The elementary schools are: M. Scott Carpenter, Memorial, William A. Miller, Walter M. Schirra, and Southwood. 

Schools Superintendent David Cittadino along with Assistant Superintendent of Schools Kathleen Hoeker and Old Bridge High School Vice Principal Sally Fazio attended a press conference last week at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, where the recipients were announced.

“The recognition as a National District of Character places Old Bridge under the national spot light as a premier school district in preparing our students as promising leaders of the future,” said Cittadino. “Being invited to the National Press Club, where great historical orators delivered their most memorable keynotes, to speak to the value of the process for the Old Bridge community was an event I will not soon forget." 

After submitting, lengthy applications and undergoing on site interviews, conference calls, and an analysis of the impact related efforts on academics, student behavior, and school culture, character.org recognized the district, which now has 11 National Schools of Character, 13 State Schools of Character, in addition to the National District of Character honor.

Character.org learned that the district was recognized as a New Jersey High Achieving District by the New Jersey Department of Education; saw a 47 percent drop in violence, vandalism, weapons, and substance abuse incidents since 2009; and all 12 elementary schools combined saw a 45.9 percent drop in discipline referrals since 2011. 

In addition, 88.4 percent of students, staff, and families reported they feel safe in Old Bridge High School, whose mantra is “Do the right thing”. The high school, one of the largest in the Garden State, experienced an 88 point increase in SAT scores, the highest in Old Bridge history (while the national average has decreased, Old Bridge’s average has increased); and was an AP Honor roll recipient by the College Board for increasing access to Advanced Placement coursework and maintaining or increasing the percentage of students earning scores of three or higher on AP Exams. The high school also has seen an 84 percent decline in fights and a 78 percent decrease in Harassment, Intimidation, Bullying (HIB) reports.

Each year, schools and districts are selected that demonstrate through a rigorous evaluation process that their focus on character development has had a positive impact on academic achievement, student behavior, and school climate. Selected schools are then expected to serve as models for other schools, helping them to achieve the same results. 

Old Bridge will now serve as a model and hopes to assist other districts through the rigorous process to achieve the same success for their students. The district will be working with the New Jersey Alliance for Social Emotional and Character Development (NJASECD) and the Middlesex County Superintendent’s Office to spread the word.

Interim Executive County Superintendent Laura C. Morana said, “I applaud the district’s commitment and focused effort to institutionalizing character education in a way that it builds capacity to sustain PreK-12 learning environments that are welcoming, supportive and challenging. Old Bridge has created a model that can be replicated at the district and county levels.” 

Hoeker, who has led teams to bring character education to the Old Bridge School District, will present information at the Anti- Bullying Council (ABC) Conference on May 29 and again on June 5 at the Superintendents’ Round Table meeting.

The assistant superintendent, who is a former principal of the Old Bridge School District’s first National School of Character in 2011, also expressed her excitement over the news. 

“I am proud of our staff and students for making the climate and culture in our schools a priority,” Hoeker said. “Old Bridge is one of three Districts in the country, nationally recognized by character.org. Character Education is not fluff but rather the foundation for growing successful students who have limitless choices as they exit Old Bridge High School. We are OB Proud!