Final Showcase for the ASCENT Project allows schools to share their successes!
ASCENT is an alliance of 18 schools from three states – NJ, NY and PA. They all share a common bond: they teach “vulnerable populations.” Vulnerable populations come to school with many challenges (high poverty; language barriers; minority/ immigrant cultural differences; low parental involvement).
The final Showcase Conference on June 27, 2019 spotlighted the united achievement of ASCENT (The Alliance of Schools of Character for Enrichment, Networking and Transformation): “Together We Can.” School #28 in Elizabeth, NJ hosted the Showcase and each of the nine pairs of schools had the opportunity to make a presentation about their work during the 2018-19 School Year. They reported on the attainment of SMART goals that guided their work and about the relationships that developed between the teams of educators from each of the schools. It was clear to all that both the school and the mentors gained much from the experience of participating in ASCENT.
Each cohort consisted of a mentor recognized as a National School of Character and a mentee, a school that wanted to transform its school culture through character building. Both schools grew together in a structured partnership that involved visiting each other’s schools, trying best practices, and collaborating frequently while using the 11 Principles of Effective Character Education as a framework for improvement.
In addition to using the 11 Principles to form SMART goals, the mentee studied the results of the school climate surveys taken by staff, students and parents. “What do we want to improve?” and “How will we do it?” This is the main focus as both schools worked together to transform school culture.
The mentee school administered the climate survey and the 11 Principles assessment to evaluate outcomes. Also, other growth data such as parental involvement, attendance, behavioral statistics were used.
One of the side benefits of this project was that the mentee schools aspired to become Schools of Character. While this is continuous improvement journey, we were pleased to see that our schools are making inroads on that journey. Two mentee schools (Francis C. Smith School 50 and Dr. Albert Einstein Academy, both in Elizabeth, NJ) earned recognition as NJ Schools of Character and National Schools of Character in 2019. Also, two other mentee schools (John Dwyer Technology Academy, Elizabeth, NJ and Lawrence Elementary School, NY) gained recognition as Honorable Mention Schools from Character.org. Lastly, Character.org honored three mentee schools for four Promising Practices and three mentor schools for three Promising Practices.