Changing School Culture: Changing Lives
Academically, Socially, Emotionally
HELD MARCH 18, 2013
Rider University in Lawrenceville, NJ
- 2013 NJSOC Recognition Program Booklet »
- 2013 Conference Program – includes descriptions of all the breakout sessions »
On Monday, March 18, 2013, NJASECD held its annual conference at Rider University. The theme of the conference was “Changing School Climate: Changing Lives – Academically, Socially, and Emotionally.” The 2013 New Jersey Schools of Character were also recognized during the conference program. Experts and practitioners in the field of social, emotional, and character development presented breakout sessions on a range of topics from the Anti-Bullying, the School Safety Teams, to best practices in the classroom.
The Keynote Address was given by Dr. Jonathan Cohen, the co-founder and president of the National School Climate Center. Dr. Cohen spoke about the importance of providing every child with a school environment that is safe, engaging, challenging, and based on mutual respect. Dr. Cohen also reminded the audience that the use of data as a tool is important, but cautioned that it should be used as a flashlight rather than a hammer. Dr. Cohen presented a breakout session with Dr. Phil Brown, Past-President of NJASECD on the National School Climate Center’s certification program for school climate leaders. The center is also preparing to unveil a variety of web resources which will soon be available for schools to use.
Prior to the Recognition Ceremony for the 2013 New Jersey Schools of Character, NJASECD presented Rebecca Sapora-Day with a Certificate of Appreciation for her work in developing the State Schools of Character Program. Up until this year, she was the Co-Chair of the SSOC Committee and was instrumental in the creation of the NJ School of Character in 2006. This program has served as a model for the nation and has been adopted by thirty other states. Becky has made significant contributions to our organization which have helped to ensure our success.
The New Jersey Schools of Character Program is chaired by Nina Kemps who serves as our State Coordinator. She sees that all applications are reviewed by teams of reviewers from previous Schools of Character and receive a second level review by a member of our Blue Ribbon Panel. Schools who meet the criteria are then sent to the Character Education Partnership for consideration and possible designation as “National Schools of Character.” This year, eleven schools were named “New Jersey Schools of Character”, seven of whom have also been selected as “National Finalists.” As part of our conference, we recognized the eleven NJ Schools of Character along with five Honorable Mention Schools and three Emerging Schools. Representatives from these schools took part in the Recognition Ceremony.
The Character Education Partnership was represented by Lara Maupin who is in charge of the National School of Character Program. The New Jersey State Department of Education was represented by Gary Vermeire, Coordinator of the Safe and Supportive Schools Unit. Also assisting with the presentation was Eileen Dachnowicz, Certified National Trainer for CEP and Trustee of NJASECD, Dr. Phil Brown, Past-President of NJASECD, and Dr. Bill Trusheim, President of NJASECD.
2013-15 New Jersey Schools of Character:
Berlin Community School, Cherry Hill Alternative High School, Gibbsboro School, Hanover Park Regional High School District, James A. McDivitt Elementary School, Lawrence Middle School, Leroy Gordon Cooper Elementary School, Madison Park Elementary School, Pennsauken Campus of Camden County Technical Schools, and Theunis Day Elementary School
2013 New Jersey Honorable Mention Schools of Character:
East Hanover Middle School, Macopin Middle School, Pequannock Valley Middle School, Veterans Memorial Elementary School, and Woodcrest Elementary School
2013 New Jersey Emerging Schools of Character:
A. Russell Knight Elementary School, Cedar Hill Elementary School, and Emma C. Attales Middle School
A Promising Practice Poster Session was a new feature at this year’s conference. New Jersey schools who were recognized with 2012 Promising Practices were invited to display posters describing their practice during the lunch break. Eleven schools brought posters to the conference. This represents a third of the honored practices for 2012. We hope that a greater percentage of schools so honored in 2013 will participate in next year’s conference. A sampling of some of the posters follows:
The remainder of the day consisted of twenty-four breakout sessions on a wide variety of topics. These sessions dealt with topics ranging school climate assessment, to certification of school climate leaders, to using the School Safety Team as a vehicle to improve school climate and culture, to tips for applying for SSOC/NSOC, to using CEP feedback for continuous improvement, to best practice strategies for the classroom.
The conference was well-attended and from results of the conference evaluation forms, attendees felt the sessions were worthwhile and informative. A big “Thank You” goes out to our conference chairs Dr. Nadia Ansary of Rider University and Carol Lawrence of the Jackson Public Schools and their conference committee for a great job in planning and presenting this year’s conference. We have already started planning for the 2014 Conference. Look for an announcement of the date and conference theme in a future newsletter.
Photo Credits: Frank Garrett Photography