TEMPLE HILLS – The teachers and students at Panorama Elementary School don’t get time off for good behavior, but they were just awarded for their excellent character education program and student garden. There is a noticeable difference just walking in Panorama’s doors. Teachers remind students to walk in a line (only on the orange squares), […]
TEMPLE HILLS – The teachers and students at Panorama Elementary School don’t get time off for good behavior, but they were just awarded for their excellent character education program and student garden.
There is a noticeable difference just walking in Panorama’s doors. Teachers remind students to walk in a line (only on the orange squares), students are quiet while they walk and if someone is pushed an apology immediately follows.
It is all part of the culture the educational leadership at Panorama is trying to create, said Assistant Principal Martha Booros.
“We had a lot of suspensions and suspensions are not the answers,” Booros said. “So, we said ‘hey, we are all the team,’ got together and said this is a great thing to do. Character education has a great philosophy.”
Now, character education is engrained in every aspect of the school. The school day starts with a television broadcast where students recite the school pledge and rules and they try their best to live by them both inside and outside the classroom.
And people are beginning to notice.
In the past few months Panorama Elementary has received a number of awards from the state and county. It won the Emerging School of Character Education award, the only school in the state of Maryland to receive the accolade.
It was also awarded the School of the Year award from The Maryland Center for Character Education at Stevenson University, a fourth straight gold recognition from the Positive Behavior Intervention System and a beautification award from Prince George’s County that recognized the school’s five different gardens.
Booros said Panorama has sought the emerging school award for three years and has worked tirelessly to achieve it. The school puts on a number of events each year that showcase its students and community involvement, including supply drives, a gingerbread house building day, Jump Rope for Heart, and a Pearls for Girls and Ties for Guys event where the students have a lunch together with jazz and light conversation.
“Character education is part of the community,” Booros said. “But overall we want our children to be self-respecting and thinking of others because we want to get them ready for the respect for the classroom.”
Damarje Childs and Tyler Smith, who are both third grade students at Panorama, said they learn respect and responsibility in the classroom.
“Responsibility means keeping up with your things. If somebody doesn’t have a pencil, you could give somebody a pencil,” Childs said.
Booros and second grade teacher Elizabeth Weiksner said this type of preparation and emphasis on responsibility and respect is prepping the students for a future in college or technical school.
Although shaping student behavior may seem like a daunting task, Weiksner said character education works into every other lesson easily.
“It’s a natural part of the day. It’s just something that we want to do and the kids want to do. It’s not an extra thing for us to do,” she said.
And Booros agreed.
“It integrates in subject matter. In health they talk about it, in social studies they have different nationalities, in math they have cooperative groups and to work in groups you have to get along. That’s part of character ed.,” Booros said. “All of this is really intertwined in the whole curriculum.”