In partnership with Kidsbridge, ESS | Source4Teachers sponsored the 3rd annual Character Education Leadership Awards. Early this school year, we encouraged school employees to nominate fellow educators who go above and beyond to celebrate diversity and spread the values of respect and tolerance throughout their school.
We were overwhelmed with incredible nominations! It was gratifying to read so many stories of dedicated individuals with creative ideas on promoting these important values among our youth. With great difficulty, the following three winners were chosen by a panel of community judges:
Mr. Matthew Persico, Hoboken Charter School Teacher
Nominator: Principal Elizabeth Niesz
Mr. Persico serves as the Middle School Student Government Association (SGA) adviser and helps oversee the school's peer mentoring program. Through these roles, he coordinates many school-wide initiatives related to bullying prevention and adherence to the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights. Such activities include creating unity chains, drawing images of people students admire, and reading quotes about kindness and respect during morning announcements. Last year, the SGA organized "No One Eats Alone Day" to foster inclusiveness and community.
Additionally, Mr. Persico infuses themes of inclusiveness, character, and social justice into his classroom on a daily basis. Through social justice book clubs, students explore personal and social identities through readings and small group discussions. Mr. Persico also teaches themes of anti-bullying and anti-bias education through explorations of power and oppression, representations of diverse characters and authors, ideas of privilege, and alternative perspectives in history.
Mr. Timothy Campbell, Princeton High School Teacher
Nominators: Former Students Priya Vulchi & Winona Guo
Mr. Campbell was nominated by former students of his AP U.S. History Class, which was unique in this competition. His former students mentioned that they had never talked about race growing up, and they were surprised that a white male would be the one to start the conversation for them in 10th grade. Mr. Campbell set aside time in his classes to preface conversations about race and social justice, and introduced the right vocabulary to best equip his students with the language they needed to participate in these discussions.
Inspired by the productive and meaningful conversations about race, the two high school students took a gap year to start a nonprofit organization called CHOOSE, which is dedicated to implementing a new, more socially conscious school curriculum nationwide. Mr. Campbell accepted a position on CHOOSE's Professional Advisory Board and was also happy to support the students in an independent study about race and intersectionality. Always willing to learn alongside his students, he connected historical events such as slavery and internment camps to modern day events, making it clear to his students that racism is not only a thing of the past.
Mrs. Linda Patterson, Califon School Nurse
Nominator: Principal Dan Patton
Working at a small PreK - 8 school, Mrs. Patterson wears many hats that take her position as a school nurse to a whole different level. She is the school’s Anti-Bullying Specialist, leads the School Safety Team, facilitates Week of Respect activities, participates in Mix-It-Up lunches, and teaches social skills lessons in collaboration with counselors. She writes the school’s annual Child Assault Prevention (CAP) grant, and was able to secure grant money for the program. She recently expanded the program to include the CAP Bullying program, in which students learn to be "upstanders."
Mrs. Patterson leads the Kids Care Club each year, and one of their goals is to “develop compassion and social responsibility in elementary school children so that they might have a life-long commitment to service.” As a result of Mrs. Patterson’s leadership, students have participated in many activities, such as collecting donations for those less fortunate, collecting toothbrushes for troops overseas, giving gifts to our senior citizens during the holidays, providing welcome kits for substitute teachers, and handing out seedlings for Earth Day.
Congratulations to all and keep up the wonderful work!