Kansas State Schools of Character
Criteria for selection are based on Character.org’s 11 Principles of Character, which include providing students with opportunities for moral action, fostering shared leadership, and engaging families and communities as partners in the character-building effort.
In Schools of Character, adults embrace their critical role as models. Teachers work together as professionals — along with parents and community members as partners — to positively shape the social, emotional, and character development of the young people entrusted to them each day. Students in these schools feel safe, respected, and connected to those around them, allowing them to thrive academically and socially and be motivated to give back to their communities.
Kansas State School of Character & National School of Character
Beloit Jr./Sr. High School – USD 273 – Beloit, KS
“Show me the way to yes. How are we going to make this happen for our students?”, is the mindset at Beloit Jr./Sr. High School. Beloit started their character journey during the 2013-2014 school year and hasn’t looked back. In 2018 they were recognized as a State School of Character and National School of Character. Since then they have continued to build on their strong social, emotional, and character development framework and culture.
The core values, PRIDE – Positive, Responsible, Integrity, Determination, and Excellence, are infused throughout every aspect of the school – physical structure, policies, academics, athletics, and behavior supports. It is easy to see that it is the ‘plate’, the culture, the foundation when students affectionally say “You have us drinking the orange and black Kool-Aid.”
Their PRIDE time, advisory period, is utilized as the platform from which all things function at BJSHS. Because of its importance, they increased the meeting time from 100 to 164 minutes and have it scheduled on Mondays and Fridays at the beginning and end of each day. So they can bookend their week. PRIDES also meet at the end of the day on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Advisors and members stay with their group for 6 years to build strong relationships and mentoring opportunities. They have also awarded credit and instituted a no-passing rule during PRIDE. Habits of the Week, Character Trait of the Month, SECD skill lessons, service learning, grade checks, and book studies are all components of PRIDE time.
BJSHS works extremely hard to foster a caring and responsive community within the Trojan Family. Phone Free Lunch, peer mentoring, and the Student Advisory team provide opportunities to build student-to-student relationships, school connections, and student voice. The implementation of new courses based on student suggestions, the addition of a JAG-K program, numerous project-based learning projects, student-run businesses, internships, facility redesign initiatives, goal setting-assessment-evaluation, student-led conferences, and restorative practices not only provide real-life experiences, but meaningful, personal, and challenging curriculum. Over the past five years, 30 new courses have been added. Six facility redesign initiative have been completed in the last 4 years, including: Library Redesign, Coffee Shop, Greenhouse, STEM lab, JAG classroom, and 2 outdoor learning areas. An Ag Shop expansion is next.
The 10 to 1 teacher/student advisor ratio emphasizes the importance of teacher-to-student relationships. Having students help with voting, serve on local boards, determine community need for PRIDE time projects, and identify monthly one small thing to positively impact the school creates opportunities for impactful moral action, service learning, community involvement, and school leadership.
The school’s character education focus is not just administrative lead. Staff are solidly on board and are active on many different levels. The Character Education Committee was expanded to 10 members and meets in the summer to plan for the upcoming year. Character Education is on every staff agenda and is the focus during their in-service late starts.
The journey to becoming a State/National School of Character is a long one. Beloit Jr./Sr. High School has continued to put in the hard work, make adjustments, and use feedback for improvement. It is because of their commitment, passion, and dedication that they are back-to-back Kansas State Schools of Character and back-to-back National Schools of Character.