Selected readings on US charter schools
North Star Academy noted for character education
The National School of Character Award is given by the Character Education Partnership, which strives to benefit society through academic, social, emotional and ethical changes. Schools selected for the national award have proven their program has a positive impact on academics, student behavior, and school climate, and are expected to serve as models for other schools.
North Star is the only charter school in the country to receive the 2013 award, and the only school in Colorado.
“It’s because our students are making good decisions; that’s why we got the award,” said assistant principal Kendra Hossfeld, who also is one of the school’s founders.
An emphasis on character development was paramount in the 8-year-old school’s founding members’ minds.
“North Star is unique in that it was founded by a group of parents with this common vision not only for academic excellence but character education,” Hossfeld said. “We wanted to start a character program that was more of a philosophy, something woven into the entire school.”
Students, parents and school staff all take a pledge upon starting school at North Star that emphasizes respect, responsibility, citizenship, integrity and excellence.
Students also participate in service learning projects both outside and inside the classroom, volunteering with the Ronald McDonald House, Irving Street Women’s Residence and Project Angelheart among others.
Fourth grader Ava Eberly explains how the classes and projects impact her in a testimonial she wrote for the school.
The character education classes “give us examples of people (and pets) that have gone above and beyond what was expected of them. They have motivated and positively impacted lives of many in their time and even today. This also motivates the students when we take on community service projects. We know that we can make a positive impact in our community, even as kids.”
“It’s truly the service learning aspect that turns the instruction into the doing part,” Hossfeld said. “Our service learning projects help students understand and become more compassionate about our community and even outside of the community. “
Students also do projects within the school, with older students acting as role models and mentoring the younger ones.
Along the way, academics have grown as well. Since 2007, average state test scores steadily have increased.
“So I do believe that character education not only affects the child’s developmental growth or social/emotional growth, it helps with their academic growth as well,” Hossfeld said.
Source: ourParkerNews.com – by Jane Reuter