-How do we eliminate bullying with so many students from different backgrounds and abilities?
-How do we teach students to embrace students of all abilities as members of the class?
-How do we make sure teachers and students alike respect and appreciate everyone for their unique gifts and talents?
One key difference that makes the Academic and Social Immersion Model successful is the complete integration of character education and leadership development for all of our students. “Character Education” and “Leadership” are buzz words in today’s society. They catch our attention as attributes we desire to be present in our daily lives. However at Oakstone, these words are much more than just buzz words. Character and leadership are foundational.
Oakstone aims to educate the whole child through quality individualized education- understanding that children are unique and education is not one size fits all. So teaching character education in an environment that is already going beyond academics to cultivate social skills and hold students to high accountability standards comes very naturally to us.
At Oakstone we desire to ask and answer the question, “What DO our students need to learn to succeed in the 21st century?” And we want to consider not only academic success, but personal and social success as well. We know that traits like honesty, respect and responsibility will make all the difference in future relationships and opportunities for our students.
For the character education at Oakstone we have adopted the character traits of: Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring and Citizenship, following the Josephson Institute’s Pillars of Character model. Students learn these words starting in preschool and elementary through monthly themed activities, assemblies and service projects. In middle school and high school students began a series of 3 character education classes- each class serving as a building block with goals and objectives unique to the developmental age of the students.
For the leadership component at Oakstone we developed our student leadership teams which are comprised of students in grades 3-12 who are passionate about their school and serving their fellow students. These students serve as ambassadors for the student body by bringing ideas and concerns from the student body to faculty and administration.
A few of the projects student leadership has implemented the past few years include: peer tutoring, annual school dances, new student ice cream social, purchasing the school mascot costume and flag as well as the gaga pit and 4 square in the air activities for the socialization courtyard, rewriting the middle school/high school’s dress code and technology policies and spearheading the adoption of 1:1 Chromebooks for grades 5th-12th.
Finally, and in many ways most importantly, character is a part of every employee’s annual evaluation. The adults are expected to model and lead by example for the students in areas including respect, citizenship, and trustworthiness. Not many adults can embrace feedback in these areas, but our teachers do because they set that tone and establish the culture. As an Academic and Social Immersion Model we require leadership from the top down in these vital areas.
Without character education and leadership development, we would not see the results we see, especially in the middle and high school classes. These pieces are at the core of not only the definition of Academic and Social Immersion, but the success of it as well!