Westside Intermediate Named A Character School Of Year

SALISBURY — Westside Intermediate School in Hebron has been named a Maryland Character Education School of the Year for 2014-2015, and it will be celebrated at the annual awards luncheon at the Maryland Center for Character Education at Stevenson University on Oct. 8 in Baltimore.

The Maryland Center for Character Education at Stevenson University (MCCE@SU) is dedicated to making an ethical difference in the lives of individuals and the entire community through education. The center encourages teachers and administrators, in public and private schools to teach, model and reinforce moral values and ethical behavior. In partnership with the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) and character.org, MCCE@SU will honor 70 schools from throughout Maryland.

The awards program recognizes schools or districts that demonstrate an outstanding character education initiative yielding positive results in student behavior, school climate and academic performance. Schools are selected by their county superintendent and/or their character education coordinator.

Westside Intermediate was chosen for the award based on its outstanding character education initiatives in the areas of promoting core ethical values as the basis of good character, creating a caring school community, and including a meaningful and challenging academic curriculum that respects all learners, develops their character, and helps them to succeed. The school will receive a 2014-2015 School of the Year award and banner.

“This award highlights how well schools like Westside Intermediate are educating children not just in subjects like reading and mathematics, but in the fundamental traits of how to be a good and caring citizen,” said Dr. Margo Handy, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction and Student Services. “I’m proud for the community and the state to know more about the outstanding character education students are receiving at Westside Intermediate every day.”

At Westside Intermediate School, students are educated in the RIDE (Respect Others, Individual Responsibility, Demonstrate Safety and Eager & Ready to Learn) Rules.

“WIS staff and students utilize RIDE Rules in conjunction with the PBIS program as the basis to promote good character,” Principal Jason Miller said. “RIDE rules posters are displayed for each designated area throughout the school such as classrooms, hallways, cafeteria, bathrooms and buses. Teachers use numerous ways to help develop these positive traits such as “town hall” meetings, classroom character awards, and having students recite RIDE during morning announcements. Students who are identified following RIDE rules receive “PBIS Bucks”, PBIS events and activities, Class DoJo points as merits, and their name mentioned during morning announcements. All students have an opportunity to earn incentives.”

Character education takes place in the classroom, throughout the school, and with the support of everyone from teachers to staff to families to community supporters. Their guidance counselor and student advisor are key to the character education team, leading the effort to promote good character development for our students by utilizing Project Wisdom’s Positive Character Messages and Second Step lessons which focus on teaching students character building, self-esteem, social issues, friendships, feelings, and bullying.

“These lessons are shared with all students from second grade through fifth grade by the counselors teaching classroom guidance lessons, as well as teachers utilizing the online program, Project Wisdom,” Miller said.

Last year, North Salisbury Elementary earned the same recognition Westside Intermediate will receive later this year. North Salisbury was named a National School of Character last spring, by character.org. Both schools have been honored with the prestigious Maryland EGATE Award for Excellence in Gifted and Talented Education.