Whittier Elementary School educators and students have discovered good things on the Rougher ROAD to Success.
“Students are respecting each other, we don’t have the problems with bullying,” Whittier Principal Ed Wallace said. “We spent the past year consistently telling students to treat each other with respect and with dignity.”
As a new year starts at Muskogee Public Schools today, other elementaries are getting on this ROAD. The ROAD — short for Respect, Opportunity, Achievement, Determination — was created two years ago at Muskogee High School to help students develop good character. Whittier took on the program for the 2012 school year, as did Sadler Arts Academy and Rougher Alternative Academy.
“We know the power that can come from an internal development program,” said Madison Tomlinson, MHS director of character development.
“All the schools in the district are going to follow the lead of the high school and get on the ROAD,” said MPS Superintendent Mike Garde. “It means the district puts a strict focus on character.”
He said the district’s goal is to have all its schools recognized for character programs.
Whittier helped its students take the Rougher ROAD by giving each student a “passport” that was punched whenever the student showed respect, opportunity, achievement or determination, said fourth-grade teacher Nelita Cash, sponsor of the Whittier’s ROAD Crew, or character club.
“I’ve had some students whose passports looked like Swiss cheese because their passports were punched so often,” Cash said.
Nikki Fain, who is entering the fourth grade, recalled getting her passport punched.
“I think it was about twice,” Nikki said. “I helped the librarian put books away.”
Nikki’s mother, Rhonda Fain, said she likes the way Whittier’s program encourages children to help others.
Rebecca White said her daughter’s attitude is “a lot better” because of the program.
“She stopped mouthing off and talking back,” White said. “She now waits her turn.”
Cash said the school will hand out character passports Monday.
The program changed the attitude of the whole school, Cash said.
“In the first year of implementation, disciplinary reports dropped by 22.8 percent,” Cash said. “This means disciplinary issues from phone calls home to outright suspensions. Big disciplinary issues were at least cut in half.”
Standardized test scores also rose, Cash said.
The Oklahoma Department of Education’s website showed Whittier third-grade math scores going from 60 percent passing in 2011 to 85 percent passing in 2012. Third-grade reading scores rose from 71 percent in 2011 to 83 percent in 2012. Reading scores also rose in fourth, fifth and sixth grades. Math scores rose in fourth and sixth grades.
Whittier students also helped raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association by holding a 1980s dance in October.
In November, the Character Education Partnership will present Whittier with a National Promising Practice Award for holding the dance, Tomlinson said.
He said Whittier, Sadler, RAA and MHS will be recognized for Promising Practices next month by the Character Council of Central Oklahoma.
Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
At a glance
At its regular meeting Tuesday, the Muskogee Board of Education:
• Recognized Irving Elementary kindergarten teacher Lisa Lamont as a candidate for Oklahoma Teacher of the Year.
• Approved all standing resolutions.
• Approved sanctions of the Early Childhood Center PTA and Ben Franklin Science Academy PTA.
• Approved contracts with Ruth Kelly Studio (MHS Yearbook) $5,250; and Armstrong Bank (OD Agreement) $2,500,000 not to exceed 5.05%
• Rejected the overbudget of $75,000. Bid #1301 Track Overlay.
• Heard a one month review of Personnel Handbook adopted July 1.
Online: Approved recommendations affecting personnel.