How We Came to Be
When the CSCD closed its doors after losing government funding, a group of altruistic individuals volunteered to take on its character mission in New Jersey. Originally operating under the aegis of the Education Information and Resource Center (EIRC), we became an independent non-profit in 2017, partnering with the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association and the Foundation for Educational Administration (NJPSA/FEA) for conference registration and for joint workshops. As the state affiliate of Character.org, the national umbrella organization for character education in Washington, D.C., we have attained national stature because of our success in helping schools become accredited as State and National Schools of Character.
Who We Are
Formed in the spring of 2008 to replace the Center for Social and Character Development at Rutgers (CSCD), NJASECD is a non-profit volunteer organization that is responsible for developing, evaluating, certifying and honoring the New Jersey Schools of Character. Totally committed to helping all New Jersey schools become “Schools of Character,” we provide guidance to educators through our newsletters, our annual conference, and assistance at our various state workshops and our Regional Networking Centers.
What We Do
We sponsor and administer, in affiliation with Character.org, the New Jersey School of Character (NJSOC) program in which schools/districts are certified for effectively implementing the Eleven Principles of Effective Character Education. Our Schools of Character offer outreach to aspiring schools and provide volunteers for our organization.
|YEAR||Promising Practices||NJ Schools of Character||National Schools of Character||National Districts of Character|
|2020||—–||34 & 4 Districts||31||4|
|2018||78||19 & 3 Districts||18||4|
|2017||80||23 & 2 Districts||17||1|
|2016||49||13 & 1 District||13||0|
|2015||27||13 & 1 District||14||1|
|2013||27||10 & 1 District||2||1|
The highlight of our work is our annual conference at Rider University in Lawrenceville, NJ. These conferences consist of a recognition ceremony honoring our Schools of Character and multiple professional development workshops given by experts and practitioners in the field. Conference themes have included Putting It All Together: Character, Culture, and Social-Emotional Learning; Building Community through Character; Character Is Forever – Building Your Program to Last; Character for All Students, and Character in Academics, Athletics, and the Arts. Last year’s conference drew an audience of about 350 participants from all parts of the state.
- The State of New York joined us in presenting two conferences on the topic of “Teaching the New Immigrants,” bringing schools from both states together to share their best practices.
- In 2018, we partnered with New York and Pennsylvania in a grant from the Porticus Foundation for a year-long project called ASCENT (An Alliance of Schools of Character for Enrichment, Networking & Transformation). This project, which paired National Schools of Character with vulnerable populations from the three states with aspiring schools having similar demographics, was very successful in helping all schools improve their school culture and climate.
Each year, we have sponsored other special activities that have expanded our reach. Here is a brief listing of these special events: “What Works in Teaching the New Immigrants” held on 8/1/17 at the Alexander Hamilton Academy, Elizabeth, NJ, “Using the Framework of Character Education to Understand and Address Issues of LGBTQ within Your School” held on December 1, 2016 at Cumberland County College, “Teaching the New Immigrants Conference” held on 8/24/15 at School 28, Elizabeth, NJ and “Eleven Principles for the Principals” Conference held on 7/29/15 at Old Bridge High School.
NJASECD also has three Regional Networking Centers (North, Central, and South each having several hubs) which provide opportunities for regional activities including technical assistance sessions, professional development, and best practices showcases to allow schools to share what has worked for them in supporting character education, social-emotional learning, and school culture and climate.
We offer professional development to schools and districts interested in beginning or enhancing a character program. For example, our professional development to New Brunswick and Jersey City schools resulted in a recognized improvement in school culture.
Each year, we select and train national evaluators to perform site visits to New Jersey Schools of Character applying to become National Schools of Character.