The following post was submitted from Beverly Woods Elementary School, a 2009 National School of Character.

How do we prepare our students for a future in which the jobs they will be doing do not yet exist and the technologies that they will be working with have not yet been invented? The answer to this question is varied and controversial. However, one thing we know for sure is we have to teach our students to lead, act responsibly and respect each other.There are many opportunities for students to gain leadership skills and embody our culture of good character at Beverly Woods Elementary School. In the primary grades, students gain the skills through hands-on service learning projects and character education lessons. In the upper elementary grades, students become school leaders and serve as role models for the entire school.

Leadership opportunities are available through our mini-society as well as through two unique groups: Kid’s Character Council and Peer Mediators/Character Coaches.

Our mini-society provides an opportunity for students in grades 3-5 to be involved in making our school a better place to learn. Student jobs provide real world opportunities for students to learn about responsibility, leadership, and citizenship. Examples of student jobs are morning announcement broadcasters, school newspaper, recycling club, and adaptive P.E., a special P.E. program that pairs a typically-developed student with an exceptional student.

Students choose a job and complete an application in which they must explain in writing which character traits they possess that qualify them for the job of their choice. Then students participate in an interview conducted by volunteers in the community. Our students take the interview very seriously and practice important skills such as a firm handshake, eye contact, and clear communication.

Kid’s Character Council provides another opportunity for students to hold a leadership position in the school. These student leaders serve as positive role models for their peers and encourage the school community to participate in school-wide service learning projects. For example, Beverly Woods has a relationship with a local charity that serves homeless children in our school system. Character Council members visit classrooms and go on morning announcements to raise awareness and promote service projects benefiting this organization. Council members also organize and participate in a service project over the summer that provides a hot meal for students and their families in a nearby high poverty elementary school.

A new program that we are starting this year is Peer Mediation/Character Coaches. Student leaders received training in mediation and conflict resolution techniques. Peer mediators will conduct mediation sessions designed to help students with disputes to resolve their own conflicts. In addition, these students will serve as character coaches by participating in school-wide behavior expectation assemblies and appearing on the morning broadcast where they will talk about our character traits as well as positive conflict resolution strategies.

At Beverly Woods our mission is to provide students with a strong academic and character-based foundation which will prepare them to explore, lead, and serve in our global society. We seek to continuously improve our existing programs as well as identify new programs that will develop student leadership skills and positive character.