Cinnaminson Middle School has been named a New Jersey School of Character, recognizing the school’s dedication to service and character.
The character initiative at the middle school began well before current principal Frank Goulburn joined the administration.
“The character-ed initiative was started by former principal Gay Moceri while I was still teaching here,” Goulburn said. “Over the years they’ve evolved a bit.”
A teacher hired during the 2011-2012 school year told Goulburn about her former school being recognized as a school of character.
“She told us there was no reason we shouldn’t be able to get that sort of recognition as well.”
The distinction falls under the national umbrella of Character.org and the middle school had to apply for it.
The state of New Jersey branch that oversees the schools is the New Jersey Alliance for Social, Emotional and Character Development (NJASECD).
“We put together a group of teachers who helped us submit an application in which you’re highlighting the sorts of programs you do,” Goulburn explained.
“We want our school to be as distraction free as possible.
We want the kids to be eager to learn. We want the kids to want to come to school each day. When you have highlighted and shined a light on doing the right thing, you’re doing your best to make the school the best place it can possibly be.”
The Unity Club was asked a number of years ago by Goulburn to come up with a set of core values and qualities that are important for the students to have an understanding of.
That project resulted in 10 core values and qualities that are now emblazoned on the walls of the middle school cafeteria and hanging on banners in the hallways.
“We have a monthly student of the month recognition that we highlight for academic achievement and good attitude,” Goulburn said. “Our teachers look for one of those values when submitting their nominations.”
Goulburn encourages the teachers to take 30 seconds to a minute in their classrooms discussing the core values as part of the content being taught each day.
“When you have the opportunity in your class to have a 30 second or one minute connection between the word integrity and something you’re doing in your class, run with it. We have countless extra curricular groups that do all sorts of character programs and community service.”
The school was required to construct a package that highlights the character initiatives the students and staff take part in at the middle school.
Goulburn received a call late last week informing him that the school had reached the distinction.
On may 19, a group from the school will be recognized with other schools from New Jersey with the same distinction in a ceremony at Rider University.
“A number of teachers told me how proud they were to receive the distinction and it’s something truly reflective of what’s been going on here many, many years. The folks at the central office were very pleased as well.”
Goulburn knows that the teachers and staff need to focus on more than just developing good students.
“It reinforces that people understand the importance of developing not just good students, but good human beings as well. We do that in concert with their families. We can’t always be totally preoccupied with test scores and grades. I said to our teachers, we want to do our darndest that when the kids walk off the football field when they’re 18 years old, that we’ve done everything we can to make them good students, but also outstanding human beings.”
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