By KATHY CHANG
TRENTON — Two local schools have been designated as State Schools of Character for 2017.
On May 19, representatives from Jonas Salk Middle School in Old Bridge, Campbell Elementary School in Metuchen and other schools in the Garden State will be honored at the New Jersey Alliance for Social, Emotional and Character Development at Rider University.
Each year, schools and districts are selected that demonstrate — through a rigorous evaluation process — a dedicated focus on character development that has had a positive impact on academic achievement, student behavior and school climate.
The selected schools are then expected to serve as models for other schools, helping them to achieve the same results. The school’s designation status remains for three years.
“I am proud to be principal of Jonas Salk Middle School where our staff, students and families recognize and value the importance of consistently demonstrating good character,” said Principal William Rezes. “This recognition is a testament to all of the great things that we do each and every day at Jonas Salk Middle School.”
Old Bridge Assistant Superintendent Kathleen Hoeker expressed her excitement over the news.
“Old Bridge Public Schools demonstrates our commitment to character with all 15 schools recognized as schools of character,” said Hoeker. “The Jonas Salk staff, students and parents serve as role models for others to follow as they continue the movement to uphold our common core values. It is another proud day in Old Bridge.”
With the addition of Jonas Salk Middle School, Old Bridge boasts a total of 15 State and/or National Schools of Character plus the National District of Character.
Campbell Elementary School’s Character Education Initiatives include the Character Breakfast program, a full revision of the school’s vision and mission statements, the Food Bank Friday’s program, the Principal’s Challenge and the TOPS (Teaching Our Parents & Students) Parent Involvement Program.
“Campbell is a family, we work together, learn together and support one another,” said Principal Edward Porowski. “We value our staff, our students, our parents and our community. Our shared vision for developing Campbell’s character education program is the driving force behind everything that we do.”
Campbell School’s Assistant Principal Brooke Kirschner said they look forward to using the designation to serve as a resource for schools looking to develop their character education program.
“[We will] continue to refine what we do at Campbell to ensure that our students are positively influenced,” she said.
Second grade teacher Lisa Levin said the entire Campbell community embraces a unified vision of living, breathing and believing in how they should treat others.
Since its inception, Character.org has awarded more than 500 schools with the distinction of State School of Character.
Designation is based on Character.org’s 11 Principles of Effective Character Education, which include providing students with opportunities for moral action, fostering shared leadership and engaging families and communities as partners in character-building efforts.
The schools recognized as New Jersey Schools of Character are forwarded to the Character Education Partnership for consideration at the national level. For more information, visit njasecd.org.