Orono Schools has been named as a 2013 Minnesota District of Character by Synergy & Leadership Exchange, in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) and the national organization—Character Education Partnership (CEP).
The honor celebrates all of the district's efforts—from classroom projects to districtwide initiatives—that promote strong character in every one of its schools and programs.
Orono Schools will be acknowledged for its accomplishments at the Minnesota Schools of Character and Promising Practices Award ceremony May 16 at the State Capitol.
“Our work in character education has benefitted the community, as well as people around the world,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Karen Orcutt. “With character as one of our three strategic goals, we will ensure that the resulting positive outcomes will continue in the future.”
The state award also means that Orono will be considered by CEP in Washington, D.C. for a national award. National finalists will be announced by the end of February.
In its mission to better prepare students for future success, Orono has been involved in character education efforts for many years through the North Central Association accreditation process and its Olyweus Bullying Prevention program.
Beginning with the 2006-07 school year, however, the district took its character education initiative to a new level with the help of a grant from MDE. The grant provided funding for staff development, consulting services and materials to create a comprehensive framework for character education within the district that could be modeled by other school districts throughout the state.
To ensure that character education remains a vital force in the Orono Public Schools experience, a character goal and accompanying action plans have been incorporated into the district’s new Strategic Plan.
The district was honored by the state once before, in 2008, while Orono's Schumann Elementary, Orono Middle School and Orono High School have all been recognized nationally with Promising Practice Awards. These awards distinguish schools that have developed and implemented a specific practice that promotes character development.