Salt Brook Elementary School, Allen W. Roberts Elementary School, New Providence Middle School and New Providence High School each unveiled their 2013-2014 Character Education theme at a surprise assembly on Monday, Oct. 7. This year’s district-wide theme of “Kindness Counts . . . Step It Up!” is designed to foster kindness and respect among students and teach them about the effects of being kind to others and their community.
Salt Brook began its Character Education Program nine years ago, and it has become an integral part of the school’s culture. Salt Brook is recognized as a leader in character education, having been selected as a 2011 New Jersey School of Character and subsequently one of only 44 schools recognized as a National School of Character. Past themes have included “Do the D.A.P.” (“Dignity and Pride”), “Pass It On” and “Stand Up.” The Salt Brook community uses these themes to challenge students to do the right thing and make good decisions, not because they are going to receive prizes or rewards, but rather because it is the right thing to do.
“Building character will last well beyond their years at Salt Brook,” Principal Jeannie Maier said. “Those are the traits that will guide them to become lifelong learners, ethical citizens and effective leaders.”
New this year, the Character Education Program is being rolled out district wide. All four New Providence schools have joined together to focus on a common unifying theme that will help students, staff and the community internalize the message of respect, kindness and empathy for others.
To help Salt Brook and Allen W. Roberts announce the theme, the New Providence High School Marching Band surprised students by parading down the street and onto school grounds, where they performed for students and unveiled a “Kindness Counts . . . Step It Up” banner. Students returned to their classrooms to discuss what the theme means, what they can do to show kindness to themselves, others and the community, and how they can put their ideas into action. Allen W. Roberts principal Gina Hansen renamed their North Court as “Kindness Court,” a daily reminder for students to show kindness in all that they do.
At New Providence Middle School, students engaged in meaningful discussions about what kindness is and how they can positively impact the lives of others. Principal Scott Hough announced a “Random Acts of Kindness” program that will take place throughout the entire school community, and challenged students to donate food to their “Thanks for Giving Baskets Food Drive” that will support less fortunate people in the area.
At New Providence High School, Principal Lauren Zirpoli addressed students about how kindness plays a role in their daily lives as high school students. Throughout the day, students read quotes and shared acts of kindness that high school students have already shown this year. A district-wide video was created by the high school’s media design class, featuring students from all schools and depicting how much kindness is already in our community.
At all four schools, the theme will extend beyond the classroom into the hallways, cafeterias, playgrounds and athletic fields, and will be brought to life through various programs, activities and assemblies throughout the year. Students will be involved in learning activities designed to develop good character and empower them to make good choices for themselves. Many of these activities will be school-based programs as well as multi-level, interconnecting activities involving high school, middle school and elementary school students working together.
“I am pleased with the implementation of our district-wide character education theme for the 2013-2014 school year,” says Superintendent Dr. David Miceli. “I'm confident that this framework will provide for many meaningful opportunities for our students to learn from each other and foster an environment of mutual respect. I want to take this opportunity to thank our administration, staff and students for their efforts in developing this program.”