LIVINGSTON, NJ - Last fall, when Hillside Elementary School posed for a school-wide photo, it was no surprise the shape they made was a heart—the school is committed to character education and helping students have H.E.A.R.T., meaning being helpful, empathetic, accepting, responsible, and working together.
Their efforts have been recognized by the New Jersey Association for Social, Emotional, and Character Development, which has selected Hillside as a 2015 Honorable Mention School of Character.
Hillside's H.E.A.R.T. Character Education Committee put together a strong application including lesson plans, photos and videos, to demonstrate how the school successfully implements the "11 Principles of Effective Character Education.”
"You can feel the positive climate in these schools the minute you walk through the door," said Nina Kemps, New Jersey Schools of Character Coordinator, of the winning schools. "The students, staff and community are respectful and care about each other, and the academics scores improve."
Kemps singled out Hillside’s partnership with the Horizon School, a school for children with multiple disabilities, to create a program called "Hillside-Horizon Helping Hands." The program fosters a greater understanding of children with disabilities, while promoting empathy and acceptance for all students.
Additionally, the NJSOC Committee embraced Hillside's new "Caring Communities" program and recognized its potential as a "Promising Practice."
“This process was truly an invaluable one,” said Principal Carlos Gramata. “It not only affirmed the great work in character education that we have started together, but also enabled us to take an objective and reflective look at our program and initiatives, and identify areas in which there is room for growth.”
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