By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer
Students helping others and instructors teaching the “whole student” helped Rougher Alternative Academy become an Oklahoma School of Character.
The school, 600 Altamont St., received the designation this week from the Character Council of Oklahoma. The designation makes RAA eligible to apply for National School of Character status from the Character Education Partnership.
RAA students and faculty cheered when they heard the news Friday morning.
“Again, Muskogee gets recognition for being exemplary,” said Mayor Bob Coburn, who was at the school for the announcement.
RAA is the first alternative school to receive a state School of Character designation, said Madison Tomlinson, Muskogee Public Schools’ director of leadership and character development.
RAA Principal Larry Sholes said, “A lot of people say an alternative school cannot be honored like this.”
He thanked MPS officials for giving RAA teachers the same training and opportunities as other district teachers. He thanked the students and staff for their continued commitment.
“We are committed to educating the whole student,” he said. “Academics is one part, but social skills are equally important.”
RAA has 94 junior high and high school students and 20 elementary students, Sholes said.
Academy counselor Shirley Morgan-Glenn said character education is a key role in the school’s program.
“At the beginning of the year, we spend two or three days to have team-building activities,” she said. “And at the end of every nine weeks, we do something special for the students who pass. It may be another day of team-building activities, it may be a movie with a good message or it may be a volleyball game.”
But that’s not the students’ only motivation.
“Often when they go to the animal shelter or a nursing home, they understand they have something to offer,” Morgan-Glenn said. “And that is more lasting than an external reward.”
RAA students regularly go to the Muskogee Animal Shelter to walk its dogs and play with them. Morgan-Glenn said RAA students involved in the program will go to Oklahoma City on Jan. 30 to be featured on the KSBI program “Dog Talk.” The program can be seen locally Feb. 9 on Suddenlink cable channel 3.
Tomlinson said the school has applied to become a National School of Character. He said representatives of the Character Education Partnership visit the school and walk through the building.
Muskogee Public Schools is seeking to become a District of Character, he said.
Muskogee High School earned a National School of Character award in 2011.
Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.