Bayless Elementary School, located on the south side of St. Louis, sits on a small campus comprised of all the district’s schools: one elementary school and one intermediate school, plus a junior high and a senior high. Bayless School District is designated as one of the most diverse school districts per capita in the state of Missouri, with over 17 languages spoken at home. Bayless Elementary has 43 percent minority students, and 60.5 percent of the student body receives free or reduced-price lunch. Dr. Maureen Clancy-May, the district superintendent, says that despite these challenges, “Bayless staff is creative in finding funds. They turn challenges into opportunities.” Clancy-May also describes the Bayless environment as one of total integration of the core values. She says that when you walk through the doors you can “feel it, see it, and taste it.” Both staff and students model character with each other. When speaking with Dr. Gina Siebe, the principal of Bayless Elementary, or with parents or members of its Character Education Committee, one is struck by their deep commitment to the development of students of character.
Outreach: During their 2011-12 award year, Bayless staff gave several presentations, assisted other schools in their state with the schools of character process, and participated in a CEP video on the NSOC program. “Receiving the NSOC recognition has increased pride in our community and encouraged others to implement character education strategies to create caring schools,” said Siebe.
Lesson Plan: Generational Singing
Bayless High School students will teach Bayless kindergarten students various holiday songs with movements. Practices will begin about two weeks before the students perform. The high school students will use trial and error to figure out the best way in which they could teach kindergarten students songs with movements. High school students will also make jingle bells for kindergarten students to wear while performing some songs.
Lesson Plan: Chinese Dragons
Students put both hands on the child’s shoulders ahead of them. If the music is fast, the group should move quickly; if slow, they move slowly. When the music stops, all freeze. If a “dragon” or group breaks, they must sit down quietly. If two “dragons” touch each other at any time, they both sit down.
Promising Practice: Character Carl
Character Carl is a fictitious character created by the character education committee that visually represents a student displaying a profound character.
Promising Practice: We Are Family
The character education committee at Bayless wanted to develop a school-wide activity that would foster belonging in their school. They created “puzzle piece” people from file folders to use as patterns. Then all students, teachers, administrators, support staff, as well as custodians and lunchroom helpers cut out the pieces and decorated them to represent themselves.
Promising Practice: Character Cruise
The Character Cruise involves all students and staff in an afternoon-long cruise to common areas of the building where they learn about, see role-plays, and have the opportunity to practice the school-wide expectations in these areas.