Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Achievement with Integrity: Social and Emotional Character Development as an Investment in the Nation’s Future

It is the mission of the New Jersey Alliance for Social-Emotional and Character Development (NJASECD) to develop life-long learners who are responsible citizens prepared to enter the global society. The Alliance assists educators and all other stakeholders in their efforts to foster ethical, responsible and caring people as they model and teach the social-emotional skills and core ethical values that lead to good character.
Mission Statement of the New Jersey Alliance
for Social-Emotional and Character Development

On Monday, March 22, 2010, the New Jersey Alliance for Social-Emotional and Character Development held its third annual conference at the Rutgers University-Busch Campus Center in Piscataway. The event was titled Making The Links: Achievement With Integrity and was sponsored by the Center for Social and Character Development at Rutgers University, Educational Information & Resource Center and the New Jersey Education Association.

As a leadership and security educator dedicated to character education, it was my pleasure to attend this event. The keynote was delivered by Dr. Philip M. Brown who used the different strands of DNA as an analogy to show the prosocial development interconnectedness of moral sensibilities (empathy and fairness) and the social sensibilities (self regulation and obligation to others) that work together in a person's life. Dr. Brown also stressed that the natural development of a student requires the nurturing that only a culture of character can satisfy.

After the keynote, I attended three breakout sessions:

Providing a Student Voice

This was conducted by educators from Colonia High School and it examined service- learning activities that were directed by the students of the school, including a survey conducted by the students. This facilitated a unification of values which were adopted by the school including respect, responsibility, caring, family and trust. Students became more involved with character education advisory groups in the school which included the:
  • Superintendent
  • School Board
  • Youth Leadership Council
  • Goodwill Ambassadors
  • Middle States
  • Student Forums
  • Surveys
  • Service Learning Projects

Implementing the Power of Professional Learning Communities as a Change Agent

This breakout, conducted by the Superintendent of the Pequannock Township Schools empowered faculty members to take the lead in promoting student achievement and implementing change in school and districts through professional learning communities. It highlighted leadership as an evolutionary process and encouraged educators to start small and grow and to choose good team players who have the best interests of students and colleagues at heart.

Collaboration rather than cooperation was also encouraged as well as expecting high professional standards, open communication and a constant focus on student learning.

Transitions: Building a New Program for Grade Nine Students

The principal and a team of educators from Ramapo-Indian Hills High School conducted this program which allows ninth-graders, as mentored by twelfth-graders, to promote positive decision-making, effective coping skills, good character and citizenship in the school. The effectiveness of this program included:
  • Dramatic drop in freshman referred for drug screening
  • Increased self-esteem among students
  • Decrease in disciplinary referrals
  • Increase in academic success
  • Decrease in attendance problem meetings
  • Reduction of referrals due to academic concerns

At the conclusion of the day was the 2010 State Schools of Character Award Ceremony and Reception.

Character education is vital to the welfare of the nation as a concrete response to a crisis of leadership. The New Jersey Alliance for Social-Emotional and Character Development is to be commended for their dedication to character education initiatives in the schools of New Jersey.


EIRC Click here to visit site
Center for Social and Character Development Click here to visit site
New Jersey Alliance for Social-Emotional and Character Development Click here to visit site
Vincent Bove Character Education Blogs Click here to visit site

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