School-wide reading project earns Indian Land Middle national award

Everybody got the novel – from cafeteria workers to students to teachers to the principal and the assistant principal at Indian Land Middle.

And everybody read the novel.

That’s when the discussions began – about why people bully other people, about the ways people find to bully, about what can be done to stop bullying.

“It was amazing to hear the conversations we were having around what we read and the ideas students had for ways to stop bullying,” principal David McDonald said, “and along with those discussions, we all were learning the power of reading and the power of sharing and discussing ideas.”

For the past three years, Indian Land Middle has read a novel together as part of its effort to motivate students to read, to develop student critical thinking skills and to get students thinking about character issues.

In 2008, the school read “On My Honor” by Marion Dane Bauer about making good choices; in 2009, “The Bully” by Paul Langdon about bullying; and in 2010, “Code Orange” by Caroline Cooney about cyber safety. The books were purchased through a grant from the Lancaster County Partners for Youth Foundation written by Indian Land Middle media specialist Sherri Alston, who also spearheads the reading program, service learning activities, and instructional lessons for the school.

And this summer, the school-wide reading project earned the school a 2010 Promising Practices Award from the Character Education Partnership.

The award recognizes schools for new and effective ways to help students solve conflicts, decrease bullying, and take action in their schools and communities as well as programs to increase parent and community involvement.

CEP received a record 474 applications from 320 public and private schools and districts and presented 228 awards for “Promising Practices” in character education to196 schools and districts from across the United States, as well as Brazil, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Singapore.

“These educators have found creative ways to improve school climate and, as a result, their students are learning more, doing the right thing, and giving back to others,” said Lara Maupin, associate director of National Schools of Character.

By publicizing these awards, CEP hopes to recognize educators for their efforts and to encourage others to learn from and even replicate these successful initiatives.

Winning practices will be featured in CEP’s annual National Schools of Character publication and on the CEP website.