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Promising Practices

What is a Promising Practice?

Character.org recognized 199 new Promising Practices in 2024. Each of these practices positively impacts a school or organization’s culture and can be a first step to building your character initiative one practice at a time. 

A Promising Practice Usually Has Three Components:

      • The program or initiative is often a unique and innovative approach that promotes a particular character strength (or several)
      • The program or initiative often involves multiple stakeholders (e.g,, students, staff, parents, community members)
      • The program or initiative aligns with a school or organization’s core values and at least one of our 11 Principles.

Promising Practices Can Involve the Whole Community

Why Create A Promising Practice?

Promising Practices can elevate relationship building, service learning, academic growth, improved behavior, student voice and leadership, parent and community engagement, and help each student to feel like they belong.  
 

Whether you are new to your character journey or a current State or National School of Character, we would love to hear about your Promising Practice.

 

Additional Benefits

Promising Practices are recognized at our International Forum, held annually, and on our website and social media.

Schools have access to a multitude of valuable benefits, including:

    • Being part of a network of schools committed to embedding character into all aspects of school life.
    • Professional feedback on your progress by our team of evaluators – all educators with Schools Of Character experience.
    • Personal Guidance from our Character.org staff to help customize your character journey.
    • Being recognized as a leader in the field of character development in schools.
    • Opportunities for outreach including sharing best practices with others and on our website, becoming trained Character.org evaluators, and mentoring schools new to the program.
    • A digital promotion package including web graphics, social media messages, newsletter blurbs, and email templates to help schools share the news.
    • An on-site promotion package including banners, flags, guidebooks, t-shirts, mugs, bumper stickers, and more.

Promising Practices At Work

More than 3 million educators, students, parents and community members across the country and internationally have been positively impacted by being involved with Character.org. Over our 30 years, school and community stakeholders have shared with us how they have employed our 11 Principles to change their school culture in their Promising Practice:

Imagine School at North Port, Florida

“Athletic Character”

This Promising Practice prioritizes the holistic development of student athletics both on and off the field. This school aims to produce not only skilled athletics but compassionate, resilient, and socially responsible individuals by intentionally aligning their core values and character development strategies into the fabric of their athletic programs. This practice has made a positive difference in the way students encourage, care for, and show support for each other and in the way they treat members of the opposing team.

Develops and implements an intentional, proactive, and comprehensive approach that embeds character everywhere.

Seitek Primary School, Kyrgyzstan

“Roots and Wings”

This program offers students a tailored experience through clubs that seek to balance traditional cultural immersion with modern skill development. Through the “Roots” club set, students participate in activities deeply rooted in Kyrgyz traditions and heritage, while the “Wings” set offers diverse options such as chess, STEAM, art, and robotics. The culmination of these efforts is showcased in a school-wide grand concert that includes all stakeholders.

Creates a caring community where everyone feels they belong.

Queensbury High School, New York

“Freshman Seminar: Building Foundations for Success”

This staff created specialized class is designed to help students transition into high school with a focus on character development. One of the special components of this practice is the partnership these students have with a local nursing home. Designed to foster mutual understanding, empathy, and relationship building, this program helps to create a bridge between generations allowing participants to share life experiences, insights, and perspectives.


Families and the community are integral partners in the school’s character initiative.

 

Testimonials

“Our ‘Character Education Progress Reports,’ a 2023 Recognized Promising Practice at Tracey Magnet School, have allowed us to monitor our students character journey in the same we monitor academic growth.  It has helped our school community to celebrate areas of success and areas in which we, as Character Educators need to increase support, SEL instruction and/or adjust our school-wide expectations.  The report is a tool that students reflect upon to monitor their own Character journey as well.  Families are also a part of the conversation, as our reports go home at report card conferences.  Our Character Education reports also support us in planning PD as a staff to provide our students with the best Character Education experience.”

Kristen Penta

Character Education Coach, Tracy Magnet School, Connecticut

“Receiving a Promising Practice was an incredible honor and it helped to open opportunities to us as we reflected on our multiple character education initiatives. Our Promising Practice, “Putting The I in Teaming With a Different Meaning,” was a validation of how teachers, students, and administrators have worked together to enhance every day teaming in Plainedge Middle School.  In addition, we took advantage of multiple invitations to present our Promising Practice at the National Forum Middle Schools Conference in Washington DC last June, and then again at the New York State Middle Schools Association Conference in Verona, New York.  As a result, it gave us the confidence to apply to become a New York State School of Character – which we were designated in January 2024.”

Jen Puleo

Assistant Principal, Plainedge Middle School, New York

“When we began our character journey, we knew we had many great initiatives happening on our campus, even if we weren’t yet at the School of Character level. Our first step was applying for a Promising Practice, which got our campus more excited and invested in the process of building a culture of character. Even after achieving NSOC, we continue to apply for a Promising Practice each year to spotlight different teachers, groups, and practices showcasing the depth of our character efforts across our campus and keeping our community invested in this important work.”

Lauren Boyher

School Counselor, Cambridge Elementary, Texas

“Receiving promising practices from Character.org has profoundly impacted Imagine South Vero. These initiatives shaped our character development approach, fostering a sense of purpose and unity. Implementation resulted in a positive impact on student behavior, engagement, and well-being. We’re immensely grateful for Character.org’s support, driving transformative change at Imagine South Vero through the 11 principles.”

Lauren Poirier

Principal, Imagine Schools at South Vero, Florida

“Being part of the 30th anniversary Character.org forum to receive our Promising Practice award was such a wonderful experience. Not only was it so rewarding to be recognized for our Ivanhoe Cadet Program, but it was also an opportunity to be part of a much larger display of so many other schools around the world doing amazing work in character development. Promising Practices is a wonderful initiative to have us all look deeply into our programming in our schools to find the best practices that bring out the best in our young people.”

Fiona Devlin

Deputy Principal/Head of Plenty Campus, Ivanhoe Grammar School, Australia

2023 Promising Practices

Vestavia Hills Elementary

Meet Vestavia Hills Elementary Liberty Park!  Located in Vestavia, Alabama, this school is a proud recipient of a 2023 Promising Practice.  During “Special Specials Day,” students rotated with their house teams to stations where meaningful discussions on the core values and character traits of Respect, Empathy, Bravery, Excellence, Legacy, and Service were cultivated.

Harmony Science Academy

Harmony Science Academy, located in Carrollton, Texas, is a proud recipient of a 2023 Promising Practice. “My Brother’s Keeper” is a campus mentoring program for African American males that allows high school students to mentor middle school students.  The goal of this practice is leadership, academic improvement, and a strong display of campus core values.

Imagine School - Palmer Ranch

Imagine School at Palmer Ranch of Sarasota, Florida, is a proud recipient of a 2023 Promising Practice.  “Imagine Cares” is a student created practice to show appreciation for first responders, veterans, and community members in need of service. This Promising Practice gives students an opportunity to put the school’s core values of courage, honesty, accountability, respect, grit, and empathy into action.

Lafayette High School

In its commitment to character development, Lafayette High School of Wildwood, Missouri, has created an “ethic of caring” that permeates the entire school.  They are the proud recipients of a 2023 Promising Practice, “Nice November.”  This practice focuses on incorporating kindness activities into the curriculum with the goal of increasing connectedness in students.

Cornerstone School of Alabama

Cornerstone School of Alabama is a proud recipient of a 2023 Promising Practice! Multi-age groups of students lead ways to share the school’s core values of Love, Respect, Responsibility, Integrity, and Perseverance through scripture, teachings, heart-felt conversations, and art during the school’s chapel service once a month.

Alamo Heights High School

Meet Alamo Heights High School!  Located in San Antonio, Texas, this school is a proud recipient of a 2023 Promising Practice. “Heights Clothes Closet” provides clothing security for students and community members in need. Ensuring the dignity and privacy for all closet consumers is a top priority, which is achieved through individualized shopper anonymity with a trusted adult.

Questions to Consider Before Applying

Is your initiative or practice innovative or significant?

Does your initiative or practice align with one or more of the 11 Principles?

Does your initiative or practice connect to your school’s core values?

The Evaluation Process

Although a given practice may be new to a particular school, it may not be unique nationwide. Many wonderful and effective practices, such as mentoring programs, service clubs, recognizing Veterans, or leadership opportunities, are not selected because these initiatives are not unique or different from other practices we have previously recognized. We are looking to recognize new approaches and initiatives that have not been implemented elsewhere.

We will be evaluating the extent to which your practice or initiative aligns with one or more of principles articulated in our 11 Principles Framework for Schools: A Guide to Cultivating a Culture of Character.

The application should contain sufficient evidence of impact (for students, staff, parents, community members, etc.). Some practices may hold promise but have yet to demonstrate objective evidence of impact.

Your narrative needs to include sufficient detail for the evaluators to assess the effectiveness of the practice.

District submissions should include sufficient evidence of a district-level initiative including how the district leaders provided direction that enabled or enhanced the practice.

Helpful Hints While Writing Your Application

  • Character limits – Spaces and special characters are included in the character limits. Text that exceeds the character limits will not be included.
  • Applications in English only – While we welcome applications from outside the United States, please note that we can only accept applications written in English.
  • Include a Photo – You will be asked to upload a photo of your practice in action. Please read the PHOTO TIPS closely in the application.
  • Photo Release Policy – If your photo includes young people, please be sure to follow relevant policies for releasing photos since this photo may appear on Character.org’s website, in publications and any recognition event (should your practice be selected).
  • Contact Information – The contact and overview information provided in your application may appear on Character.org’s website and publications (should your practice be selected).
  • Submitting your Application – You may “save and return” to your application as many times as you wish until you click the “submit” button at the end of the application. Once the application has been submitted, it cannot be edited.
  • Multiple Applications – We invite your school, district, or organization to submit multiple applications for different practices, although no more than two will be selected in a given year.

 

Submission Process

Character.org does not give more than two designations to any one school or district applicant in a given year.

Application fee is $150 per application.

If paying by purchase order, there is an additional $25 per application administrative fee.

We recommend you take some time reviewing the application PDF before starting the final application. Remember to draft and save your application in a Word document. Your responses will not be saved in the system until the application is submitted.

FAQ’s

When is the deadline?

The Promising Practices application deadline is midnight EST on March 28, 2025. Email diana@character.org for additional questions..

Where can I access the application?

2025 applications will open on September 3rd.

Where do I submit payment?

There will be an area at the end of the application where you can enter credit card information.

I cannot submit the application.

Try another browser if you encounter problems. We recommend you work on your application in a Word document as a back-up. Google Chrome has worked well for most when completing the application. If you continue having issues, please contact diana@character.org.

How are Promising Practices recipients determined?

Character.org assesses each application based on the following criteria: (1) the extent to which your initiative or program is unique, different, or in some way will contribute to the field of character development; (2) the extent to which your practice or initiative aligns with one or more principles articulated in our 11 Principles Framework for Schools; and (3) if your application narrative explains the impact of your practice or initiative (for students, staff, parents, community members, etc.).

When is the announcement?

The recipients will be announced on June 5, 2025.

Need More Information or Help?

Meet Diana Dodson

Coordinator, Promising Practices
My character journey “officially” began during the summer of 2014 after attending the Summer Institute in Character Education led by Dr. Marvin Berkowitz.  This incredible opportunity ignited a new passion within me, and I could not wait to help my school and district guide our character efforts under the 11 Principles Framework. As an already seasoned school counselor, I knew that this journey would have to “start slow to go fast” with efforts to intentionally invest in the things that matter. We started by writing a Promising Practice, which made a positive impact on the culture of our school. In 2019, we were recognized as a State and National School of Character. I encourage you, wherever you are on your journey, to share the wonderful and inspirational practices that you are doing to make a difference in your school or organization. We can all build and celebrate our character efforts, one practice at a time!