Breckenridge Texan

East Elementary adds character, leadership to curriculum

East Elementary adds character, leadership to curriculum
September 26
12:11 2018

As the first six weeks of the 2018-19 academic year wraps up, the bulletin board in the hallway at Breckenridge’s East Elementary School is covered with notes detailing the times many students have exhibited “trustworthiness” since the first day of school.

“Trustworthiness” is the character trait that the school focused on during the first six weeks, in addition to the regular classroom curriculum. Last year, both East and North Elementary implemented the Character Counts program which teaches core values to the students.

A bulletin board at East Elementary recognizes students who exemplify the “Pillars of Character.”

In the program, the “Six Pillars of Character” are identified as:

  • Trustworthiness
  • Respect
  • Responsibility
  • Fairness
  • Caring
  • Citizenship

Shannon Deen, the counselor at East and North, said that each morning, the students hear a quote of the day related to the trait they are studying. Additionally, the teachers have lesson plans on the traits, and each week the parents get a letter about the trait.

Every day, school staff members are looking out for students who demonstrate the trait. Those examples are acknowledged with a note on the Leadership Wall bulletin board in the hall and with personal recognition on the stage in the cafeteria during breakfast each morning.

Deen said that last year was the first year for the schools to use the program and she used all of the materials provided by Character Counts. “This is year two, so I’m making it different,” she said. “We’re coming up with new quotes and new lessons.”

When a student is recognized for a character trait, Principal Barbara Collinsworth calls the parents to let them know. She said many parents are worried, at first, to get a call from the principal, but she quickly lets them know it’s for a good thing.

In addition to implementing the Character Counts program at East, Collinsworth also introduced this year the theme of “Only One You,” based on the book of that title by Linda Kranz.

“We try to pick a theme every year,” Collinsworth said. “With this one, we’re teaching the kids that it’s OK for them to be the only one who steps out and tries something, that it’s OK to try something new, even if you fail.”

The school has incorporated the “Only One You” theme throughout the school, starting with the front entrance. In the flowerbeds on either side of the covered walkway leading up to East, each teacher placed a rock painted to look like a brightly colored fish. That follows the illustrations in the book, which also features painted rockfish. The theme continues with bulletin boards and other decorations through the hallways.

Another concept that Collinsworth has introduced to the East students this year is that of leadership. Each morning, the school recites the “Leadership Pledge,” and each teacher has nominated a student leader from their classroom. Those East Elementary Ambassadors serve as the greeters in the classrooms, welcoming guests, shaking their hands, etc.

On Monday, East Elementary hosted an Only One You Family Night for students and their families, offering activities and snacks for attendees. At the end of October, the school will have its annual Monster Math event.

East Elementary staff joined students and parents Monday night for activities and snacks as part of the school’s Only One You Family Night. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Story by Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

Cutline, top photo: East Elementary teachers and students participate in a book walk at Monday’s Family Night. The school invited students and their parents to the event, which was based on the school’s 2018-19 theme of “Only One You.” (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

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