UNION, NJ – Jefferson School is among only 81 national schools to be named a 2020 State School of Character.

“Receiving this distinction is a tremendous honor for Jefferson School and our community,” said Principal Laura Damato.  “The Leader in Me program at Jefferson School has been a catalyst for embedding our core values in all aspects of our lives.”

Each year, Character.org, a national advocate and leader for character in schools, certifies schools and districts at the state level that demonstrates a dedicated focus on character development which has a positive effect on academic achievement, student behavior, and school climate.

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According to the National/State Schools of Character Score Sheet, Jefferson School’s  Leader in Me program has “transformed the school by emphasizing character education extensively. It is incorporated into many aspects of daily life. It begins from day one as each teacher shares something about themselves. Connections are already being established.”

“The staff is viewed as ‘paparazzi’, observing their subjects,” continues the score sheet.  “They believe that change begins with them and make certain they observe the tenets of the Leader in Me Program. They have instituted a leadership period where the students are taught character education habits. Students can also use this time to participate in various committees, encouraging students to take on leadership roles.”

“The idea of having accountability partners in many aspects of life seems like an excellent idea that has brought great academic and behavioral success,” according to the Schools Character Score Sheet.  “Community outreach is featured when the school does fun monthly activities like Socktober or when sponsoring Leadership Day.”

The State Schools of Character review team received and evaluated 197 applications from schools and districts with quality character education programs. 

“It is a true testament of our entire staff that through their personal commitment they have empowered our students and allowed them to find their inner voice,” added Damato.

Jefferson and the other schools and districts will be considered for Character.org’s highest distinction – National School of Character.

“We are pleased to announce the 2020 State Schools and Districts of Character,” said Dr. Arthur Schwartz, Character.org‘s Board Chair and Interim CEO. “These schools’ representatives, including educators, parents, and students, are working together to create stronger communities that exemplify the character strengths of honesty, caring, and responsibility. We are honored to be validating their efforts and sharing their inspiring work with schools and school districts throughout the United States.”