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Walter M Schirra Elementary School Selected as State School of Character

The New Jersey Alliance for Social, Emotional, and Character Development (NJASECD) has selected Walter M. Schirra Elementary School as a 2015 New Jersey State School of Character. The school will maintain this status for a period of three years.

The school’s application has been forwarded to character.org, formally known as Character Education (CEP) in Washington, DC for consideration in the National Schools of Character program.

Schirra submitted a lengthy application to NJASECD, including the school’s overview and character education journey.

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.

“Staff, students and the entire Schirra community are proud and excited to achieve the distinguished honor of New Jersey State School of Character,” said Kirstin Todd, a school counselor at Schirra. “We look forward to continuing our character education initiatives and thank everyone in the Schirra community who helps promote our vision each and every day.”

The NJASECD also named Old Bridge Township Public Schools the 2015 New Jersey District of Character (NJDOC). It too will maintain this status for a period of three years, through 2017.

Schirra School, as well as the district, will be honored at a special recognition ceremony during the NJASECD Annual Conference at 8:30 a.m. on May 29, at Rider University. Among those invited to attend the ceremony are: Board of Education President Matthew Sulikowski, Schools Superintendent David Cittadino, Assistant Superintendent Kathleen Hoeker, parents, students, and teachers who may have played a significant role in building and sustaining the character education initiative.

Nina Kemps, state coordinator for NJASECD, congratulated the Old Bridge District and all of the schools that received recognition this year and within the past several years.

“You have become a model that other districts should follow,” she said. “A strong character initiative is so important for ALL students and schools.”

Schirra School will undergo an intensive screening process that includes a site visit on April 1, 2015, conference calls, and further analysis of the impact of character-related efforts on academics, student behavior, and school culture as part of the consideration to be named a National School of Character.

 “Completing the application process for a school or district is a journey,” Hoeker said. “The 11 principles established by the character.org foundation guided us through evaluating what we already had in place and effectively assessing the impact our practices have on our students, staff and community. This process is about establishing a foundation to help our students evolve into well rounded, caring, and compassionate people.”