Schools receive grant to study, develop ethics in classrooms

By Jennika Baines
Sun Associate Editor

Two diocesan schools have received a grant that will help them do something they’ve been doing all along — instill a sense of ethics in their students.

The $23,137 grant through the Central New York Community Foundation provides access to the Power2Achieve program for three area schools. The program calls on students and teachers to develop a standard of classroom behavior and achievement that will help students excell both in school and beyond. The schools included in the grant are Bishop Grimes Prep (formerly Bishop Grimes Junior/Senior High School), Cathedral Academy at Pompei and Lafayette Junior High School in Lafayette, N.Y.

The year-long grant, which collaborates with the Institute for Excellence and Ethics (IEE), provides resources like literature, music and DVDs for the schools and training for the teachers. In return, the IEE will receive feedback from the schools on how better to develop the program for the future.

For Barbara Messina, assistant principal at Bishop Grimes, this is an opportunity to reinforce ethics they already teach in classrooms.

“It really helps teachers not try to guess about how to do things because there are resources,” Messina said. “Everybody’s on the same page using the same language and the kids are getting the same message across the board from all their teachers.”

As teachers get increasingly comfortable with these messages they will share tools and guidelines with parents so that classroom learning is reinforced at home.

Students will also be involved in the process as they help their teachers develop policies for ethics and behavior that they will agree to implement in the classroom.

The Power2Achieve program focuses on developing abilities in students like collaboration, goal-setting, communication, and the willingness to give and receive constructive critique. It incorporates recent research on effective teaching and learning strategies and relies heavily on the Smart and Good High Schools report which studied 24 American high schools. While the study considered schools in diverse areas, it determined that all successful classrooms include elements of strong character development.

“They looked at what makes high schools good and what kind of skills teachers and students work on that enable schools to be successful,” Messina said.

The grant ensures that schools from kindergarten through 12th grade have been represented. As the school year continues, the three schools will be able to meet to discuss the progress and outcomes of the program in the classrooms. “There’s collaboration between teachers, between different schools, and they’re really looking at how one grade level kind of feeds into another,” Messina said.

“We’re so excited. It’s one more thing to do for our teachers,” she said. “It’s just an easier way and a more efficient way of doing what we’ve always been doing.”
For more information on the Power2Achieve program, visit
www.excellenceandethics.com.

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