, Muskogee, OK

May 15, 2014

At Sadler, it is all about character

School celebrates national recognition

By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Sadler Arts Academy students have a new reason to sing “Character is a Part of My Code.”

The Character Education Partnership, a national organization promoting respectful and caring schools, named Sadler as a National School of Character this week.

Sadler students, teachers and parents celebrated the honor Wednesday morning with singing and dancing. Muskogee Public Schools officials and Mayor Bob Coburn joined the celebration.

“Character is not an event,” School Superintendent Mike Garde told the students. “It is something you do every day.”

Parents attending the morning assembly agreed.

“The principles they model in the classroom helps them be better students and hopefully, better citizens when they get out,” said Kim Jones, who joined her kindergartner daughter, Kynnli, at the assembly.

“They have the best teachers and the best faculty,” said Candy Starkey, mother of two Sadler students, Addyson and Gracee.

Starkey said she sees character modeled “in their actions and the way they treat others.”

Sadler music teacher Pam Turnbull said she does a lot of character development in her classroom — not just through their songs.

“We would talk about a situation, how we could have made better choices in a situation,” Turnbull said. “And music is a discipline. We teach self-discipline through the arts.”

Sadler is one of 44 schools around the world to be named a 2014 National School of Character said Madison Tomlinson, a state coordinator for the Character Education Partnership. Hilldale Middle School, which also received the recognition, will have a public assembly Tuesday.

Schools are named schools of characters based on how well they meet the Partnership’s 11 Principles of Effective Character Education. The principles include engaging families and communities in character-building, creating a caring community and fostering self-motivation.

For Sadler Principal Ronia Davison, the national recognition is only a beginning of student development.

“You leave a legacy in everything you do. I’m really excited about that,” Davison told students on Wednesday. “We’re going to use this award to do things even better.”

Sadler is the third MPS school to receive the honor. Rougher Alternative Academy and Muskogee High School were honored in past years.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or