We hope that after reading through these pages you can see the critical role that core values can play in setting the direction and creating a foundation for character initiatives.
By taking steps to identify and affirm a specific set of core values, building a common language, and making everyone a partner, you can instill the purpose of your core values in your community.
Earn the Principle 1 Badge
Are you Proficient in Principle 1?
If you think you’re ready to pursue your badge for this Principle you can complete the reflection question below and submit it to one of our facilitators for review. Once you submit your reflection your response will be reviewed and the facilitator will let you know when you’ve met the criteria for your Principle 1 badge. In order to be eligible for a badge you must have also participated in at least one of the conversations for each of the Principle modules.
Why is it important to define, implement and embed core values into a school’s culture?
Please provide a thoughtful response that demonstrates your understanding of Principle 1, and how it relates to your current setting. Your response must be at least 500 words. (Please write your response in a separate document for your records and then copy and paste into this form).
Promising Practices are unique, specific, and effective character education strategies that are aligned with one or more of the 11 Principles. Every year, new practices are submitted from around the world and evaluated for their connections to the 11 Principles and potential for replication by other communities.
Valley Center Intermediate School
Valley Center Intermediate School (VCIS) in Kansas found itself with an identity crisis when the district reconfigured its existing grade alignment and created a new fifth- and sixth-grade intermediate school. Elementary and middle school teachers first warred with each other but then reached an accord as staff, students, parents, and the district’s Social Emotional Character Development Task Force agreed on the core values of compassion, teamwork, integrity, perseverance/persistence, responsibility, and respect. Adopting the slogan, Be the CHANGE, making a difference beyond you, the school was off and running to a new start with a program that accented team-building and service.
Somerset Intermediate School
Somerset Intermediate School, like many other schools in New Jersey’s North Plainfield School District, had had its own character program through advisory, but yearned for a stronger district focus. A Character Team from Somerset led a core district Character Committee through the process of identifying ten core values, surveying teachers, parents, and students and then whittling the ten to four by tabulating the online results. Teachers heartily endorsed the choice of CARD (caring, appreciation, respect, determination). Don’t leave home without it! Proof of CARD’s success: North Plainfield now has more National Schools of Character – North Plainfield High and West End School.
Brooks Global Studies Elementary School
Students at Brooks Global Studies Elementary School in Greensboro, North Carolina show they have internalized the values. When asked in a writing prompt, “If you could give a gift to anyone, who would it be, what would it be, and why?” over 75 percent of the respondents spoke of non-material gifts. Students wanted to “give to those less fortunate,” “provide jobs to the unemployed,” and “love to the family.”
G.W. Robinson Elementary School
In interviews at G.W. Robinson Elementary School in Seabrook, Texas, parents point out how everyone strives to model the values. Some teachers make home visits, and classes cheer home-bound students through a Skype visit. A parent observes, “From the moment you enter the front door, whether you’re a parent, child or grandparent, you feel welcome. That caring environment establishes the bond that has to happen between a school and home…The teachers are willing to go the extra mile for the kids, and the kids, in turn, respond.”
Bridgeport Elementary School
Bridgeport Elementary School in Bridgeport, New York never forgets that it owes its origin to a group of feisty mothers who formed a “Mothers Club” to fight for a new school. Today, it continues that tradition of listening to many voices and includes everyone from the custodian to the principal in its focus groups. The school’s custodian regularly facilitates a discussion group along with instructional aides, classroom teachers and support staff.
La Cima a public charter school located in the heart of Bedford Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, New York uses the motivational slogan. Climb High, to spur its 400 “scholars” to practice the C.A.R.E. principles of community, accountability, reconciliation and effective effort. Vibrant, oversized canvasses with the Climb High message adorn the entrances to the music rooms, the business office, and the hallways. Parents have no difficulty understanding the school’s approach to building character, for the school’s website clearly states: The C.A.R.E. principles are reinforced in several contexts; daily in classroom C.A.R.E. circles led by teachers and scholars, in a weekly grade-wide community meeting and in monthly all-school community meetings… scholars are asked to demonstrate exemplary behavior representing the principle and value of the month.
Rockwood School District
Rockwood School District in Eureka, Missouri, has been in the business of building character since 1998, became a National District of Character in 2006 and was re-certified in 2016. When asked how a district guiding over 21,000 students housed in 31 different schools and spanning 151 square miles has been so successful in building character, a teacher responded, “We run this district like a family and not like a business.” Although its nine core values date back to 1998, Rockwood keeps them alive by encouraging each school to develop them creatively, in keeping with the needs of the school. Rockwood has built character education into its goals, professional training, curriculum, individual school improvement plans, hiring process, evaluations, curricula, and service-learning projects.
Research and Resources for This Principle
- 20 Gifts of Life, by Hal Urban
- Eight Habits of the Heart, by Clifton Taulbert
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens, by Stephen Covey
- Performance Values: Why They Matter and What Schools Can Do to Foster Their Development, by Character.org
- “Make Your School a School of Character” in Character Matters: How to Help Our Children Develop Good Judgment, Integrity, and Other Essential Virtues, by Thomas Lickona
- Five Tips for Teaching Core Values, by Tina Haas
- Spotlight on Pennsbury: Core Values Unite the District, by Character.org
- From Classroom Rules to Class Promises: How Core Values Set the Foundation, by Dara Feldman
- Choosing Your Core Values, by Becky Sipos
- The Virtues Project