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Character Education

Background

Approach

Resources


                                  

"Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of a true education."
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 Bolton Quilts
The Bolton Primary School community worked together to create 32 friendship quilts for 
children at Doernbecher Children's Hospital through "Kids Giving to Kids" project.

Background

In 1994, the West Linn-Wilsonville School District began a reexamination of its strategic mission.  Several community Futures Conferences were conducted and brought together parents, Board members, citizens, business owners, students and school staff members to create a shared vision for a school learning community.  The six district Vision Themes were identified for educating  the next generation.  Further defining the Educating the Whole Person vision theme, the Character Traits honesty, integrity, respect, responsibility, kindness, compassion, and courage emerged as core ethical values that our community believes our children should learn and that all should strive to exemplify. 

Over the years, the district developed an intentional character education philosophy and curriculum.  Schools began identifying ways they teach the character traits.  In 1998,  West Linn-Wilsonville School District was selected by the Oregon Department of Education as one of five school districts to participate in a 5-year grant project (Oregon Character Education Partnership Project) to further develop, implement, and assess comprehensive character education programs with the goal of fostering high academic achievement and good character in students.  

We believe that the character education model being implemented in the West Linn-Wilsonville Schools is unique, comprehensive and effective.  The focus is on creating school cultures and classrooms where character and learning are valued, modeled, and practiced through real daily actions.  The Vision Themes and Character Traits are shared, embraced, and taught by all members of our community and are a highlight of our school district.  The West Linn-Wilsonville School District was named as one of 17 semi-finalists for the 2004 National Schools of Character Award.  The award is granted by the Character Education Partnership (CEP) and recognizes K-12 schools and districts demonstrating outstanding character education initiatives yielding positive results in student behavior, school climate and academic performance.

A comprehensive study of American high schools, conducted by Lickona and Davidson, reports that "there is a national consensus regarding the need for character - doing our best work, doing the right thing, living a life of purpose."  The concern for excellence and ethics evident in that statement is exemplified in West Linn-Wilsonville with the guiding question, "How do we create a school community for the greatest thinkers and most thoughtful people for the world? "


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Approach

The West Linn-Wilsonville School District character education initiative "Developing a Community of Character" promotes the following goals:

  • To increase expectation for high standards for academic achievement
  • To increase expectation for high standards for personal character
  • To increase expectation for high standards for community character 

Implementation of character education within the district is seen in:

  • A comprehensive K-12 Character Education curriculum framework, defining "character" to include thinking, feeling and behavior and its integration throughout the curricular content areas
  • A character education model articulated and implemented through the District and School Development Plans including an evaluation and review process to allow ongoing assessment of goals
  • Extension of character education beyond the classroom into the school community to establish relationships, foster deeper personal connections, and strengthen communication between families and the schools
  • Ongoing service learning opportunities inside and outside the school to further understanding of moral action in the world; a shared effort engaging many stakeholders:  parents, businesses, community groups, youth organizations and local government agencies
  • Attention to the individual learning needs of each student and a high involvement of students in their own learning creating conditions for high quality learning and deeper levels of self-motivation
  • District commitment to staff professional development through ongoing in-district workshops and seminars; effective character education is strengthened by the expertise of our teachers
  • Shared moral leadership at all levels:  students, teachers, administrators, district office, parents and the Board resulting in layered involvement, accountability and long-range support in the character goals of the school and district

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Resources

  • West Linn-Wilsonville School District K-12 Character Education Curriculum Framework
    Adopted from:  
    ASCD, “Appendix A:  Curriculum Scope for Different Age Groups,” Promoting Social and Emotional Learning, Guidelines for Educators, pp.133-138.
     
  • West Linn-Wilsonville School District K-5 Character Education Curriculum Topic Map
     
  • West Linn-Wilsonville School District Comprehensive Guidance & Counseling Program Grades K-12, May 2006
     
  • "Character Matters", West Linn-Wilsonville School District
    District-created video addressing real ethical dilemmas facing young people today; total running time: 18:00; November 2000.  Contact West Linn-Wilsonville School District, Curriculum Department for further information.
     
  • Second Step® : A Violence Prevention Curriculum (Pre/K - 5) - Scope & Sequence Document
    The award-winning Second Step program from Committee for Children, teaches social and emotional skills for violence prevention.  Based on more than 15 years of classroom application and the most current academic, social, and emotional research, the Second Step program focuses on the three essential competencies—empathy, impulse control and problem solving, and anger management.  The program was adopted in 1999 for the West Linn-Wilsonville primary level guidance program.
     
  • Committee for Children
    Committee for Children, a nonprofit organization, is an international leader in social, emotional, and academic learning.  Its award-winning programs and prevention curricula focus on the topics of youth violence, bullying, child abuse, personal safety, and emergent literacy.  Woven Word™: Early Literacy for Life (pre/K), which promotes emergent literacy in young learners while strengthening social and emotional skills, is a complementary program to Second Step®.
     
  • Character Education Partnership (CEP)
    The Character Education Partnership is a nonpartisan coalition of organizations and individuals dedicated to developing moral character and civic virtue in our nation's youth as one means of creating a more compassionate and responsible society.
     
  • Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD)
    (Education Topics - Character Education)
    Founded in 1943, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that represents 160,000 educators from more than 135 countries and more than 60 affiliates.
     
  • Center for the Fourth and Fifth Rs - State University of New York College at Cortland
    Founded in 1994, the Center for the 4th and 5th Rs has trained more than 4,000 K-12 educators in a 12-point comprehensive approach to character education. The Center helps schools and districts implement and assess character education through its annual summer institute and on-site staff development, publishes The Fourth and Fifth Rs newsletter, and conducts research on character education.
     
  • The Center for the Advancement of Ethics & Character at Boston University
    F
    ounded in 1989 in connection with Boston University's 150th anniversary, the Center addresses the broad range of issues related to young people acquiring sound ethical values and forming good character.  To date, the work of the Center has focused on the responsibilities of teachers and schools.
     
  • Oregon Partnership
    Oregon Partnership is a statewide non-profit promoting healthy kids and communities through drug and alcohol awareness, prevention programs, and a 24 hour crisis line for treatment referrals.
     
  • Oregon Department of Education - Character Education
    Includes information on the Character Education Grant and links to external resources.
     
  • Michigan Department of Education
    (K-12 Curriculum - Health Education - Character Education)
     Includes information regarding and/or links to:  policy, curriculum and instruction, resources and related information.

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