The Bedford Elementary School piloted two character programs during the 1997-98 school year. They were "Character First" and the "Second Step" program. At the end of that school year, the "Second Step" was retained as an anger management program for elementary guidance classes. Teachers recognized the need to implement a character program, but felt that a better program could be fashioned to meet the needs of the Bedford Area School District students. With this thought in mind, a group of elementary teachers received approval to write their own educational program.The following teachers became known as the Bedford Elementary Character Education Committee:
- Ann Marie Brown, Kim Burket, Dianna Clapper, Joanne Feaster, Laura Fisher, Sandi Hoenstine, Lisa Miller, Debbie Tweedie, Sally Van Why, and Jennifer Hillenbrand.
Dr. Madeline Keri and Mr. Deryl Clark were the administrators who worked with the committee. By the end of summer, having spent five district sponsored and numerous volunteered hours, an educational program was designed, developed, and compiled for use in the Bedford Area School District. The program is known as the Bedford Elementary Success Training, or simply BEST. The program's goal is "to educate children in order that they may successfully live and prosper in our community and the world beyond." The program is designed to concentrate on one character trait every nine week period. It is divided into four units. The units deal with respect, compassion/empathy, responsibility, and perseverance.
The units begin with a story introduced by community participants in an assembly setting. Each unit has an introductory poem and unique animal figure (designed by our art teacher, Lisa Miller) to represent each character trait. Definitions and character qualities are listed for each unit. Besides having literature and social awareness activities, there are videos, art activities, and games in the program package. There is also a Teacher Resource Section included which provides each teacher abundant activities to individualize the program to meet the special needs of their students.
The Bedford Area School Board approved the use of this program in the Bedford Elementary School for the 1998-99 school year. By utilizing grant money, a BEST Assignment Book and Charts have been designed and developed for classroom use. Lanyards, gold seals displaying the animals and character traits, and incentives for our students are also part of the program. Evaluations have been conducted at the end of each school year, showing an increase in the number of students demonstrating positive behaviors.
It is with sincere appreciation we acknowledge the following businesses that have so graciously contributed to the BEST Program.
Each share equally in this successful initiative of a school-community partnership. Their yearly investments underwrite the cost of the BEST Program and enable countless youngsters to reap the benefits from a guided character education program.
Thank you to:
A & W (Sac Shop), Burger King, Roles Lifetouch