, Muskogee, OK

November 18, 2012

Muskogee schools push character

MPS seeks ideas for Promising Practices

By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer

— After earning seven Promising Practice awards from the Character Education Partnership, Muskogee Public Schools is seeking more this year.

“We just sent out emails to the schools to get their ideas for Promising Practices this year,” said Madison Tomlinson, MPS director of leadership and character development. He defined a promising practice as “a single practice a school is using to help develop character in its students or staff.”

Tomlinson joined Whittier Elementary Character Club sponsor Nelita Cash and Muskogee High School counselor Sheril Morgan at the partnership’s annual conference earlier this month in Washington, D.C.

“Winning seven is a little unique,” he said, “Many schools have one; some have two or three.”

Promising Practice awards MPS received this year are:

• MPS Character Camps, a two-day retreat for students in grades five through eight, where they learn about team-building and character development.

• Cafe Conversations, student-led summits where students developed character goals. This enabled Muskogee High School’s Rougher R.O.A.D. to Success to spread to other schools in the district.

• Rougher Alternative Academy’s Serve to Learn/Animal Shelter. Students spend time walking dogs at Muskogee Animal Shelter.

• Sadler Arts Academy, Students Understanding Philanthropy and Educating Relationships, or SUPER Club. Students engaged in food drives, campus beautification, recycling and community clean-up.

• Sadler Arts Academy, the Power of Legacy. The school bases a character program on the life of the school’s namesake, Samuel L. Sadler.

• Whittier Elementary, 80s for Alzheimer’s — Students Dancing for a Cure. Students raise funds and awareness for the Alzheimer’s Association.

Morgan said one idea she wants to try is to get parents to share their parenting ideas and challenges with others.

Former Gov. Frank Keating, now vice chairman of the Character Education Partnership’s Board of Directors, praised MHS for its program. MHS was named a National School of Character in 2011.

“The work that Muskogee High School has done in implementing the 11 Principles of Effective Character Education has within a few short years revolutionized a low performing school into the state’s first and only National School Of Character,” Keating said in a prepared statement. “It is my hope that schools throughout Oklahoma will look closely at the success of MHS and also implement the 11 Principles of the Character Education Partnership.”

Muskogee not only got ideas for new practices, the district inspired other schools to copy Muskogee programs, Morgan said.

“Three high schools in Albany, N.Y., are interested in what Muskogee High did with advocacy,” Morgan said.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogee