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This Month's Best Practice

Each Month the Maryland Center for Character Education at Stevenson University (MCCE@SU) picks one of the Best Practices from a Character Education award winning school to share with you.


This month's Best Practices is from an award winning school from 2016 - 2017.




School: Meadowood Education Center

Address: 1849 Gwynn Oak Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21207
Principal: Marquis Dwarte
E-Mail: mdwarte@bcps.org

Phone: 410-887-6888


Character Ed. Contact: Jamie Falber

E-Mail: jfalber@bcps.org


Primary Principles Emphasized: 1, 4, & 6


Objective(s): Meadowood Education Center creates an environment that meets academic, social and behavioral needs for students who benefit from a non-traditional setting through relevance, respect and relationships. Our vision is to empower students with relevant strategies that are essential in order to be productive in any environment.


Principle 1: Promotes core ethical values as the basis of good character.


Meadowood Education Center seeks to instill core ethical values within all of our students. The development of these skills within our students are crucial to the successful functioning of our school, as we seek to develop not only our students’ academic levels, but also the social-emotional growth and character development of our student body.

Through weekly morning meetings, students and staff discuss core ethical values that are relevant to middle-school students and their advancement to becoming contributing members to society. At weekly meetings, ethical values such as respecting ourselves and others, empathy, integrity, and doing the right thing when no one is watching are discussed. Students and staff engage in powerful school-wide conversations that unite our school community. Through this process, the character of our or students in fostered and developed, as they engage in self-assessment of their own character and moral compasses, and seek to improve in areas in which they may need work or development. These weekly discussions are then continued in our “AM Homebase,” in which students complete a series of activities related to highlighted ethical values including: self-reflective journal writing, class discussion, role-playing, circle dialogues, art and design, poster displays, team-building activities.

In addition to our weekly meetings that highlight and promote core ethical values, students are engaged in a class called “Character Development” in which these topics are discussed and practiced in more detail. Character Development class examines specific values and character traits in detail, and then creates a safe space in which students discuss their own personal feelings and ideas about specific topics. The class uses real-life and age-specific scenarios to engage students. Some projects that students have worked on in this class to build character include: care packages for cancer patients and raising money for needy families during the holidays. Students also engage in art and design projects related to a specific core ethical principles. For example, students created “Stop Bullying” signs and posted them around the school. Students also “Paid it forward” by distributing kindness cards and by competing random acts of kindness. Other areas of focus included perseverance, respect, and integrity. Students examined famous role models who had exemplary character and studied how their actions directly impacted society.

Meadowood seeks to highlight core ethical values on a daily basis and directly implements school-wide opportunities and programs to develop our student body’s overall character.


Principle 4: Creates a caring school community.


Meadowood is a school that seeks to build relationships and create a cohesive school community at all times. One of the major ways in which we do this is through showing mutual respect for others and through restorative practices. In addition to our weekly meetings and circle dialogues, we hold restorative circles if any issues arise. For example, a staff member was upset by the actions of a group of students and a restorative circle was held to address the issue. Everyone was able to state their opinion and discuss how they were impacted by other peoples’ actions. Circle dialogues allow for everyone to come to a safe place to voice their opinion and then allow for a mutual understanding to be reached.

In addition to these dialogues, our student services team work daily to ensure that students know they are cared for and supported. Students have weekly check-ins with either a counselor, social worker, or psychologist to discuss personal character goals and moral dilemmas. Students are given the individual attention that they need in order to thrive and enhance their social-emotional development. Every student in our building has a personalized goal that is tracked through a behavioral point sheet that is utilized through the day.

We work to create a caring environment at all times, even when students engage in actions that break rules or hurt others’ emotions. If students disagree or insult each other or a staff member, we use restorative practices to get to the bottom of the dispute or disagreement and then hold mediation meetings to restore and rebuild relationships. It is crucial that students know that even if they make a mistake, they are cared for and supported. However, it is also crucial that they recognizes their wrongdoings and take accountability for their actions. Through this process, students become better individuals who ultimately become more responsible for themselves and their actions. They also better recognize how their actions directly impact others.


Principle 6: Includes a meaningful and challenging academic curriculum that respects all learners, develops their character, and helps them to succeed.


Our school houses very diverse students that all struggle with various academic and social-emotional impediments. As an alternative school, we strive to use alternative practices and curriculums that better the lives of our students and help them to become better and more competent people.


Every morning students are read a passage from “Project Wisdom,” a curriculum that allows for students to think critically about their own actions and future advancements. Passages may be about famous role models or may share old proverbs. In their “AM Homebase” class, students reflect on these passages and discuss as a class their meaning and how it applies to their own lives.


Students are also exposed to the “Why Try” curriculum in their character development class. The “Why Try” curriculum meets students at their own levels of social development and seeks to improve student motivation levels and enhance overall character and morality.


Our weekly character development theme also is tied in to our academic curriculum, as teachers work to apply these themes to their lessons and classroom activities. The student services staff also offer push in support in to the classroom environment to reinforce the importance of these core ethical values.


Meadowood is an environment that successfully pairs character development with the academic curriculum. We understand that social emotional development truly goes hand-in-hand with academic development, and value the importance of reinforcing, nurturing, and enhancing the character development and social growth of our students. Through this practice, we are producing students that will ultimately become more successful, kind, competent, genuine, and caring adults.



The Maryland Center for Character Education at Stevenson University
School of Education, 1525 Greenspring Valley Road, Stevenson, MD 21153

E-Mail: MCCEcharacter@aol.com