The Lawrence Township Public Schools has been named a State District of Character for 2020, making it one of seven public school districts nationwide to receive the honor from Character.org.
The designation puts the Lawrence Township Public Schools in the running to earn the honor of being named a National District of Character by the nonprofit Character.org. The winner will be announced in May.
If the Lawrence Township Public Schools succeeds in being named a National District of Character, it will not be the first time that it has been so honored. The district earned the prestigious honor in December 2014, and held it from 2014 to 2019.
Character.org, which also named 81 schools nationwide as a State School of Character, is a national non-profit group that works with schools to help students become ethical and compassionate citizens, according to its website, www.character.org.
Character.org, which is based in Washington, D.C., was formed in 1993 to provide leadership and advocacy for character development worldwide.
Superintendent of Schools Ross Kasun said he was “thrilled and so proud” of the Lawrence Township Public Schools for earning the state honor.
“Our character education initiative is not about winning awards, (but) it is wonderful to see our dedicated efforts recognized by Character.org with the goal of benefiting society not only through academics, but also addressing social, emotional and ethical issues,” Kasun said.
Eldridge Park School Principal Amy Amiet, who led the application submission process, explained that she was “proud to be part of a school district that values the social, emotional and character growth of each student.”
Character.org certifies schools and districts at the state level that have demonstrated a dedicated focus on character development, which in turn has a positive effect on academic achievement, student behavior and school climate, according to www.character.org.
Character.org’s “11 Principles of Effective Character” provides a comprehensive framework that helps schools to improve academic achievement, student behavior and an overall positive school climate, its website said.
Principal 4, for example, states that the school “creates a caring community.” It does so by creating a community that helps all of its members form respectful relationships that lead to caring attachments, the website said.
Developing caring relationships between students and staff, among students, among staff, and between staff and families encourages both the desire to learn and the desire to be a good person, according to Character.org.
Principal 5 asks the school to provide students with “opportunities for moral action.” Students learn how to work as part a team, to negotiate for peaceable solutions, to recognize and resolve ethical dilemmas, and identify and meet school and community needs, the website said.
Principal 7 helps students to become self-motivated. “‘Character’ means doing the right thing and doing one’s best work, even when no one else is looking,” Character.org’s website said.
Schools of Character work with students to develop their understanding of rules, their awareness of how their behavior affects others, and the character strengths – such as self-control, perspective taking and conflict resolution skills – that are needed to act responsibly in the future, the website said.
In announcing the 81 schools and seven districts that earned state honors, Arthur Schwartz, Character.org’s board chairman and interim chief executive officer, said he was pleased.
“These schools’ representatives, including educators, parents and students, are working together to create stronger communities that exemplify the character strengths of honesty, caring and responsibility,” Schwartz said.