• The nonprofit organization Character.org has named Mountain Brook Junior High one of its 2020 Promising Practices. 

    The school garnered recognition for the Connect program implemented during the 2019-2020 academic year that involved all students engaging in a weekly character education lesson taught by their homeroom teacher. 

    “To be the most welcoming school in America, which is our goal, we’ve all got to care about one another and be connected,” MBJH Principal Donald Clayton said. “This is the feet-on-the-ground way to do that.”

    MBJH teachers developed the character education curriculum with input from students. In designing lessons, they drew from two of the school’s belief statements that center on promoting a climate of acceptance and taking pride in the school and community. 

    “One of our keys is including our students as much as possible,” Clayton said. “Adults can push this all day long, but if the kids aren’t included in what we need to talk about in these Connect groups, then it’s not going to work.” 

    The junior high created time to implement its character education program by designating the first day of the school week as No Movement Monday. During Monday’s A0 period, students remained in their homeroom and participated in a lesson. 

    Clayton noticed its impact.

    “It had some effect on our building,” he said. “I saw our kids take care of one another more than normal.” 

    MBJH was one of only six schools in Alabama and one of 264 nationally to garner recognition and earn certification from Character.org. Founded in 1993, the organization provides the voice, visibility, and resources for educators to build nurturing and supportive school cultures that focus on core values and character strengths vital to student and school success. 

    MBJH and other 2020 Promising Practice recipients will be honored at the Character.org National Forum in Washington, D.C., next March. By then, the Connect program will be well into its second year. 

    “Knowing our school, knowing the culture that our adults are aiming for collectively, it’s not a surprise to me that we get recognized for something like this,” Clayton said. “It’s a surprise that it happened this quickly into our process.”