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Smallwood Drive Elementary is Named a 2024 National School of Character, Again!

Principal with student outdoors near signSmallwood Drive Elementary School “has a vibe”. It’s a positive vibe that can be described by teachers and students alike and it’s built on how the school views the importance of character as essential to every part of the school culture. It’s put into practice every day through the PAWS behavior program and the “Our Community, Our Plan”. 

Smallwood’s school culture and the “Our Community, Our Plan” theme, which uses a common language around the value of an idea, sets a supportive framework and has earned the building national recognition from character.org. 

Smallwood Drive is a 2024 National School of Character, building on the New York State School of Character designation it received in January. 

“We are committed to fostering character development in our students,” said Principal J. Richard Crozier. “This achievement is a reflection of the collective effort, dedication, and character that defines our beloved Smallwood.”

Since it first earned both the state and national designations in 2019, Smallwood Drive Elementary School has grown their character initiative to develop yearly themes based on character development. Every year since 2019, the themes have earned Promising Practice awards from character.org.

Those themes such as "Power of a Puppet," "Mantra Mondays," "Use your voice," "Lending a Paw," and "Our Community, Our Plan," have played a direct role in teaching students the skills they need to grow into exceptional citizens of the community.

Smallwood Drive is one of three schools in New York State to earn the 2024 national honor and among 73 schools in the U.S. Both the state and national designation remain in place for five years. This new designation means Smallwood will have a 10-year span as a School of Character from 2019 - 2029. In 2019 they were the only school in New York to win both state and national honors.

The Schools of Character program is run by character.org, a national organization whose mission is to support schools that positively shape the social, emotional and character development of the young people entrusted to them each day. Schools must demonstrate how their character education programs align with the 11 principles defined by character.org. They were selected through an intense application process and a virtual site visit.

“Our journey with character.org has consistently placed the development of character, social, and emotional health at the forefront of what we do,” said Crozier. “I firmly believe that the numerous initiatives resulting from our involvement with the organization have played a direct role in teaching our students the skills they need to grow into exceptional citizens of this community.”

Since 2019, the school has won these character education awards:
2019 - NYS School of Character, 2019-2024
2019 - National School of Character, 2019-2024
2024 - NYS School of Character, 2024-2029
2024 - National School of Character, 2024-2029
2020 Promising Practice - Power of a Puppet
2021 Promising Practice - Mantra Mondays
2022 Promising Practice - Use Your Voice
2023 Promising Practice - Lending a Paw