Promising Practice Awards

2017 National Promising Practice Award, CommUNITY Walk-About

We are excited and honored to have been awarded yet another Promising Practice from! Our Ninth award. Each year, as part of the Schools of Character program, recognizes educators in the United States and elsewhere who have implemented unique, specific, and effective character education strategies.

The project submitted was the “CommUNITY Walk-About”. This project started in the fall when several marigold plants from our Blessed Garden were uprooted and transplanted into pots for our three year old students to nurture. In the spring, the Community of Caring Club created plant stakes to adorn the potted plants. Three large pots of various plants were created to give as a gift of respect and friendship to our neighboring schools: Grace Lutheran, Willow Canyon, and Waterford.

The “Walk-About” of these gifts of friendship were delivered to the neighboring schools. The second, fourth and sixth grade classes participated in the delivery as representatives of Blessed Sacrament Catholic School. Thanks to all our teachers for their participation and support of the service projects organized each year for our community.

Founded in 1993, is a national nonprofit based in Washington, D.C. The mission of the organization is to provide leadership and advocacy for character worldwide. It is dedicated to help people everywhere become educated, inspired and empowered to be ethical and compassionate citizens. validates character initiatives in schools, sports, families and the workplace through certifications and sharing of best practices. Results of effective character initiatives in schools typically include improved academic achievement, a decline in behavioral problems and an increase in an overall positive school climate.
The Promising Practices program highlights what’s going well in classrooms across America and the world. The program is simple in scope and recognizes many wonderful ideas from passionate teachers who are making a real difference in the lives of their students. Each Practice must be tied to one or more of’s Eleven Principles of Effective Character Education.

2016 National Promising Practice Award, Poverty Themed Classroom Creed

The school wide theme of poverty was selected for the 2015-2016 school year. At the beginning of the school year, students and teachers discussed and reflected on the theme of poverty which not only lack of food but also lack of clothing, shelter, medical care, education, etc. The students in each classroom then collaborated and created a Classroom Creed on Poverty.

Through the monthly Virtue, Action, and Saint program students had monthly hands-on activities and time for reflection to see how they could affect change in the classroom, change in the school, change in the local community, and change in the world. . Lack of medical services is a form of poverty. Students drew and cut out material dolls for Operation Smile. Volunteers sewed the dolls and members of the Community of Caring Club at school stuffed each of the dolls. These were sent to Operation Smile headquarters for use in Eastern Europe, South American, and Asia . Malaria and lack of clean water is another form of poverty. During Math & Science Night, students had the opportunity of making a Life Straw to see how it can filter out 99.9% of the unclean water. Donations were also collected to purchase Life Straws for Africa . Canned food goods, clothing, and toys were collected during November & December for the family homeless shelter. Lack of clothing in Africa was also reflected upon. Students collected new and gently used pillow cases to make little African dresses to send to Africa . Each month a different area of poverty has been touched upon. Students have had hands-on activities and time for reflection to see how they can affect change in the world.

At the end of the year, teachers read the original class creed to their students. Time was spent in reflection and discussion and the class creeds were revised. How did their outlook and idea of poverty change over the course of the year? Did they see how a simple action could cause a ripple effect of change across the globe? Students had a different outlook on their definition of poverty and the role they could play to affect change.

This project is a ‘thinking, feeling, and doing’ project. Students will retain the information they hear better if they are asked to DO something with the information. Character development does not happen over night. The character education initiative at our school is an on-going initiative that begins with the first day of school. The five core values are prominently displayed throughout the school. By creating the class creeds, the core values are reinforced. Students must think about what the values mean to them and how they can create change through their actions. Thinking about what the core values mean to them makes the students aware of their feelings and how they would like to be treated. This project encompassed our school wide social justice theme for the year and made it come to life with many hands-on experiences. We involved students, teachers and staff, family and friends, and outside community members. Assessment on this project included an assessment not only of basic knowledge of the five core values but also how the knowledge of the five core values was applied by the student as a life long learner, how the core values were integrated into social skills, and how the piece demonstrated their responsibility in being a positive global citizen.

Students are actively involved in the ‘doing’ portion of character education. This just isn’t another service project or talking about the theme of poverty. This was a hands-on, year long learning experience for all of our students. Getting to know that poverty is more than just lack of food and that even as a 4 year old Pre-Kindergarten student they can affect change in the world. This is getting in touch with how they feel about the five core values and how they can instill and promote those core values in their own lives. Students get excited to see their service actions affecting change across the globe.

The class creeds were then illustrated by the students in the after school art club program under the direction of Mrs. Marcy Mullholand. The class creeds are on permanent display in the school’s Media Center .

2015 National Promising Practice Award, Literacy Tile Peace Poles

Today, nearly 1 in 6 people around the world cannot read or write. Many children are too poor to attend school, schools may be scarce, or their society may be engaged in war. Almost 2/3 of non-literate people are women. This is both a sign and a cause of women’s continuing to live in poverty. This impacts personal autonomy, economic security, job opportunities, health, and quality of democracy. This project brought awareness of literacy and right to an education to students in Kindergarten-Grade 8. Students discussed and reflected on the challenge of literacy around the globe. They then illustrated their feelings on a foam tile and wrote their wish to another child who might not be able to attend school for some reason. The tiles were then placed on 1 of 2 peace poles located in the main lobby of the school. These were on display for several months after International Day of Peace on September 21. The school wide theme of literacy for the year was reinforced and during our Family Literacy Night funds were collected to send a girl to school in Africa through Heifer International. This was a very engaging and impactful project for all students.

2014 National Promising Practice Award, CommUNITY Ceiling Tile

The CommUnity Ceiling project is an interactive and engaging art and character education activity for the students at the school. The five core values of trust, responsibility, respect, caring and family are prominently displayed throughout the school and the students spend time in the classroom discussing the five core values. This project puts the words in to to action. Students are able to express what the five core values mean to them. These ceiling tiles will be put up in the ceiling of the Media Center for everyone to enjoy. Students worked in groups of 3 and 4 to create each of the ceiling tiles. After the tiles were completed, class time was spent assessing the activity. TAG-Students were asked to TELL something positive about the experience of creating the tiles. Students were to ASK a question of another classmate on their experience with creating the tiles. Students were then asked to GIVE a suggestion on what could have been done differently.

2012 National Promising Practice Award, My Refocus and Reflection Form

The “My Refocus and Reflection” form is a positive reinforcement of the Class Creed and the five core values as established by the Community of Caring. If a student chooses behavior outside of the standard as established in the Class Creed, the student is given the opportunity to complete the form. This form engages the student in carefully thinking over the incident that took place, see who or what was affected by his/her choice, reflect on thoughts at the time of the action, and then let the student think about what he/she would do differently next time. This form must then be signed by the teacher and parent. By having the parent sign the form, the student is given the opportunity to let his/her parent know what happened at school that day.

2011 National Promising Practice Award, Monthly linking of Virtue, Action, Saint

“Reflections in Faith, Academics, Character” is a compilation of essays and photos. Each class took time to reflect on an area of faith, academics, or character development. All students in grades PreK-8 are included in the portfolio. This is a creative assortment including all three areas that supports our proactive efforts in promoting faith, academics, & character development across the entire curriculum. The essay provides an intentional method that gets students to think about their actions in a positive manner and creates an atmosphere that supports character development.

2010 National Promising Practice Award, Student Portfolio,
“Reflections in Faith, Academics, Character”

During the summer months, the Administration Council determines the Virtue, Action, and Saint for each month. These are posted in two strategic locations in the school. One is the front foyer area of the school that is easily seen by all students at the elementary level and all visitors. This particular poster is updated each month. The other is in the middle school area where it is easily seen by the middle school students, and all students on their way to PE, lunch, library, art, music and Spanish. In this particular area, the posters are left up all year long, as a nice reminder of all virtues, actions, and Saints that have been studied and reinforced throughout the year. The information is posted on the newsletter that is electronically sent to all parents twice a month. During Catholic Schools’ Week, the students were asked to reflect on what their favorite service project (action) was for the year. These reflections were mounted on scrapbook paper, with a photo of the service projects attached, and all of the reflections were placed into a scrapbook for visitors, parents, and students to enjoy.

2009 National Promising Practice Award, Family Mentoring Program

The New Family Mentoring Program, under the direction of the Home & School Association, is an effective tool in helping new families become part of the Blessed Sacrament School community. Each year, parents volunteer to be mentors. Prior to the beginning of each school year, the Mentoring Committee receives the names and other personal information of the new families entering the school. It is their responsibility to match up mentor families with new families. Before school begins, H.S.A. hosts a Welcome Barbecue. Mentors have personally invited new families to attend. This is an informal social where new families meet each other and a bond begins to form with the community. H.S.A. displays different events that it will host throughout the year. This begins the education process of what our school is all about. Throughout the year, if a new family has a question or concern, they are encouraged to reach out to their mentor family. The school asks the mentor family to be proactive and call the new families on a regular basis to make sure they are comfortable with their new surroundings and to inform them of upcoming events. The number of people involved with the mentoring program depends on the number of new families entering the school. The school tries to give each mentor family no more than two to three new families. The rationale behind the mentoring program is to plant the seed of community. Blessed Sacrament prides itself on being a small, family oriented community and the mentoring program is a link on this chain. The children of the mentor family see first hand that their parents are involved in the school and this assists them in realizing the importance of their education. Fostering a partnership between the school and families shows a commitment to the importance of community. The school holds that education is most successful when a healthy partnership between the family and school is formed.