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West Patent Elementary School Redesignated as a State School of Character

NY School of Character BadgeWest Patent Elementary School has been redesignated as a State School of Character. One of three schools recognized in New York and 67 nationwide, the school is eligible to be designated as a National School of Character in May.

“I am so proud of our staff and students and need to give a special shout out to Margaret Rose Goodman, Dr. Elissa Lesser, and Donna Baulkwill for their tireless work putting together the portfolio of evidence and essays of proof required for our redesignation,” said Principal Judy Brewster.

One hundred eighty-eight schools applied for the esteemed certification from Character.org and were evaluated on the organization’s 11 Principles Framework for Schools, which includes things like creating a caring community, fostering students’ self-motivation and engaging families and community members as partners in the character-building effort.

“Each year, Character.org certifies schools and districts at the state level that demonstrate a dedicated focus on character development, which has a positive effect on academic achievement, student behavior, and school climate,” Character.org said in a press release.

From the school’s motto (Be kind every day, it’s the West Patent way) to its core values (which are highlighted throughout the year), West Patent Elementary School works these qualities into every part of the school experience.

“Character education is woven throughout the fabric of our learning community and is embedded in our curriculum and everyday interactions with our students,” said Margaret Rose Goodman, the school’s elementary coordinator. “There is an emphasis on service learning, on creating a school-wide culture of kindness, and on making our school, our community, and our world a better place through our actions and our words.”

To be designated, they had to submit an in-depth application to prove it.

“The application is huge,” said Goodman. “It actually ends up being a binder.”

The school had to write about how it implements each of the 11 principles and provide two documents of evidence for each. In addition, they submitted testimonials from parents, staff and students as well as data on the school’s climate. The applications are then assessed by a team of trained evaluators.

“It’s really a growth model,” Goodman said. “They evaluate the areas of your application that are really impressive and the areas in which you can grow — because you can always grow.”

Goodman noted that the feedback they get on their applications really helps to enrich the school’s initiatives.

“I'm a national evaluator, which is great professional development for me,” she said. “I visit other schools, see what they're doing and get other ideas — and that's part of the whole process. All of the Schools of Character learn from each other and share ideas and then go back and implement them in their own schools.”

No matter what the outcome of the national evaluation, West Patent will continue to learn and apply new ideas to make their school community the best it can be.

“Our goal is to provide an environment that builds the foundation for lifelong learning and responsible citizenship, and to work in partnership with parents to teach the whole child,” Goodman said.

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