Pelham Middle School has earned distinction as a National School of Character by Character.org, one of just 47 schools in the US., Brazil and Mexico to receive such an honor. The announcement follows the middle school becoming one of just two schools in New York to be named a State School of Character in January.
“The New York State School of Character is an honor we hold for five years and we had the option - at any point during that period - of applying for designation as a School of Character at the national level,” said Principal Lynn M. Sabia and Assistant Principal Sean Llewellyn. “Because we felt so proud of the work our students, teachers, and community have accomplished, even in the midst of the challenges of the pandemic, we decided to move forward, engaging in an even more rigorous process that included a virtual site visit with national evaluators in March and interviews with students, teachers, parents, and administrators.”
In its review of Pelham Middle School, Character.org’s judges wrote:
“Enthusiasm and passion were evident with each group the evaluators spoke with, from the administration, to teachers, students, and parents.”
“What was most memorable . . . was all of the examples of how teachers infuse character in everything they do, from social-emotional learning to differentiation of the curriculum.”
“There are deliberate conversations about how the school should support students, that include everyone from hallway monitors to aides and substitute teachers. This is the level of support they want to provide to these kids. It’s a beautiful place.”
“Pelham Middle School’s strengths include the comprehensive approach to teaching character developmentally through the use of service learning and student-led community projects.”
“Ms. Sabia and Mr. Llewellyn, along with students, staff, and parents . . . developed a comprehensive character initiative for the school when it became apparent that it was not enough to do well academically and that being a person of character is critical in today’s world.”
“From the moment she became principal of Pelham Middle School, Ms. Sabia set her sights on becoming a School of Character and I am immensely proud of her and Mr. Llewellyn’s ability to bring that goal to fruition,” said Dr. Cheryl H. Champ, Superintendent of Schools. “The middle school’s commitment to creating a positive atmosphere and learning environment for all students and staff is remarkable. Through building-level activities and setting a positive example, Ms. Sabia, Mr. Llewellyn, our teachers, staff and students have been able to build an incredible culture that embodies our District’s strategic focus on supporting The Whole Child.”
“We firmly believe that educating our students is a team effort in which staff, administrators, and parents collaborate, and we know a great school is only as great as the community that nurtures its work,” said Ms. Sabia and Mr. Llewellyn. “We want to thank the Pelham Education Foundation, Pelham Together, our PTA, the Board of Education, and parent volunteers who participated in our interviews, as well as all of the parents and community members who have supported us as we have set our sights on prioritizing character development to the same extent we value students’ academic and social and emotional needs. We look forward to continuing to work together as we strive to continue the tradition of excellence at Pelham Middle School.”
Founded in 1993, Character.org is a national nonprofit based in Washington, D.C. that works with schools, families, workplaces, and communities to educate, inspire, and empower people of all ages to be ethical and compassionate citizens. Their 11 Principles for Schools is a comprehensive framework that helps schools improve academic achievement, student behavior, and overall positive school climate.