Schools of Character

Click Here for the press release as a PDF.

Rockaway Township School District Named State District of Character - Copeland Middle School, Birchwood Elementary School, & Katharine D. Malone Elementary School Named State Schools of Character!


Rockaway Township (January 28, 2021) — Character.org , a national advocate and
leader for character development in schools and communities, recently certified
Rockaway Township School District as a State District of Character and Copeland
Middle School, Birchwood Elementary School, & Katharine D. Malone Elementary
School as State Schools of Character. This prestigious certification was awarded to only
76 schools and only 1 district across the United States.

Each year, Character.org certifies schools and districts at the state level that
demonstrate a dedicated focus on character development which has a positive effect on
academic achievement, student behavior, and school climate. Schools and districts
announced today will be considered for Character.org’s highest distinction - National
School of Character.

"We are pleased to announce today the 2021 State Schools and Districts of
Character," said Dr. Arthur Schwartz, Character.org’s President. "We congratulate
these schools on achieving State School of Character designation in a year filled with
so many challenges. The educators and parents at these schools work together to
ensure that every child understands, cares about, and consistently practice the core
values that form the heart of each family and school. We are honored to recognize
their efforts and share their inspiring work with schools and school districts throughout
the United States and internationally.”

The principal of Copeland Middle School, Alfonso Gonnella, commented, “Winning the
State School of Character distinction is a tremendous honor for Copeland Middle School
and Rockaway Township. This honor represents the relationships our staff has built
with their students, families, and each other. Our monuments have and will always be
the impact we leave on the people we come in contact with. I am so proud of our
school community, for doing things for the right reason and building monuments that will
endure for years to come.”

With these recent honors, all six of Rockaway Township’s schools have now earned the
distinction of being named as State Schools of Character. Stony Brook Elementary
School, Catherine A Dwyer Elementary School, and, Dennis B, O’Brien Elementary
School were all named State Schools of Character as well as National Schools of
Character in recent years which is the highest accreditation bestowed by Character.org.
Superintendent of Schools, Peter Turnamian, noted, “We could not be more proud of
our schools for earning these honors. It is a true credit to the dedication and values of
our educators who work together each day to ensure our school communities nurture
and support the development of all our students in service to the Rockaway Township
community. Living through this pandemic has only served to heighten the importance of
schools providing social and emotional supports for our students and families. These
awards demonstrate how all Rockaway Township schools excel in this critical area and
it has served our community well and even more so during these pandemic times.”
The schools and school districts who apply must meet the rigorous standards
articulated in Character.org’s 11 Principles Framework for Schools. Each school is
evaluated by a team of trained educators who conduct a rigorous review of the schools’
character education program.

Since its inception, the National Schools of Character program has impacted nearly 3
million students, staff, parents, and community members. The schools and school
districts who apply must meet the rigorous standards articulated in Character.org’s 11
Principles Framework for Schools. Each school is evaluated by a team of trained
educators and includes a site visit to assess how a school’s “shared values” are
motivating students to do the right thing.

About Character.org: Founded in 1993, Character.org is a non-profit organization
based in Washington, D.C. Our mission is to provide the voice, visibility, and resources
for educators to build nurturing and supportive school cultures that focus on core values
and character strengths vital to student and school success. Character.org is widely
known for its 11 Principles , a comprehensive framework developed by school leaders
and character development researchers. During the past 20 years, more than 900
schools and school districts – after an independent and rigorous evaluation process –
have been certified a National School of Character. The vision for Character.org is to
expand our work to families, sports, and the workplace. Visit www.character.org to learn
more.