Character Education in West Virginia
Character Education in West Virginia schools is integrated in several different ways based upon each individual school or county school system. In April 2001, Character Education was mandated through HB 2208 for all schools to integrate character education into all aspects of school culture, school functions and existing curriculum. All public schools PK-12 are to develop and integrate components of character development into their existing curriculum. The school may incorporate such programs as "Life Skills", "Responsible Students", or any other program encompassing any of the following components: honesty, caring, citizenship, justice, fairness, respect, and responsibility.
The West Virginia Department of Education during the Safe Schools Conference 2001 trained approximately 200 educators in national character education models for integrating character education throughout the school curriculum and school environment. The models represented where the following: Character Counts!, Character Centered Teaching, and the Giraffe Heroes Program. In March 2002, an additional 120 educators where trained by Dr. Phil Vincent on "Developing Character in Students". During the 2002 Center for Professional Development Summer workshops approximately 960 educators attended workshops at one of the eight regional sites on the integration of character education. The presenters during these sessions were West Virginia Schools presenting Best Practice Sessions.
Schools around the State are implementing character education in a variety of ways. In order for character education to be effective and have long lasting results, character education needs to be developed by the school, parents, and community. Schools have been using the character education professional development opportunities, the prevention programs currently in place, and the instructional goals and objectives for each subject area in order to create a comprehensive, well disciplined, safe and caring school environment for all students. In addition, Caring Habits of the Month Adventure Project was presented to approximately 100 educators in March 2004. Since then the West Virginia Department of Education has developed a contract with Caring Habits to provide a statewide framework for implementing character education.
The West Virginia Department of Education received a grant "Partnerships in Character Education Pilot Project" from the United States Department of Education in May 2001. The grant was for one million dollars over four years. Twenty three pilot sites were then selected by the WVDE through a competitive grant process. Each pilot site is unique and may be a single school, feeder schools, schools in a regional area, or a countywide project. The feedback we have received from the schools and counties overwhelmingly indicates the need and importance that educators in West Virginia are placing on character education. The pilot sites are currently in their forth year of implementation. The grant will end May 2005. To view a listing of the pilot sites click here: Character Education Pilot Sites