St. John the Baptist School in Waunakee promotes positive character development Print
Written by Sue Barry, Catholic Herald Correspondent   
Thursday, Jul. 13, 2017 -- 12:00 AM
Waunakee Character Development
Pictured are the April Positive Character Development Program Award recipients at St. John the Baptist Catholic School in Waunakee, from left, top row: Danny Reis, Kaden Olsen, Tyler Schaubroeck, Neiley Ripp, and George Colletti; from left, bottom row: Owen Kramar, Lucy Troester, Ava Puls, Brayden Goodwin, Malia Niles, and Katie Nornberg. Third grade winner Alainna Reefe is not pictured. (Photo by Sue Barry)

WAUNAKEE -- St. John the Baptist Catholic School in Waunakee completed the second year of its Positive Character Development Program this past school year.

According to Principal Conni Stark, "The program was developed to enhance our school climate through counseling sessions, modeling, awareness, and monthly recognition of students."

During the 2016-17 school year, the program guidelines focused on the following character traits: respect, handling emotions, responsibility, friendships, self-esteem, and empathy.

Improving student behavior

The program has grown out of a grassroots effort to improve student behavior, Stark explained.

During each month, students attend a session with the school counselor and they focus on that month's character trait. The traits are placed on posters and hung in the classrooms as reminders.

At the end of the month, teachers nominate students to be recognized as Student of the Month. Personalized letters are sent home to the parents, information is placed in the school newsletter and church bulletin, and a Certificate of Character is placed on a bulletin board in the cafeteria.

Students more caring

Stark said, "As a result, we have seen a student body that is much more caring and aware of the other people in our school family and disciplinary cases have dropped dramatically.

"Families appreciate the positive personalized notes about their children."

"As a staff, we will continue to evaluate where we are, and what traits we would like to concentrate on for the upcoming school year," Stark added.

Focus on self-esteem

During the month of April, for example, the school focused on the character trait of self-esteem. Some students were recognized for their outstanding efforts or for going above and beyond their teacher's expectations.

Below are some examples of the kinds of things the teachers write about their nominated students. These comments are also included in the letter to the parents.


Brayden Goodwin always has a smile on his face. He is continually trying to do his best at school. He is open to ways to improve. He works hard to gain knowledge in his reading skills and learning new math concepts.

First grade

Katie Nornberg is a good friend to her classmates. She not only does her very best on all her work, she also models kindness in the way she listens to others speak and is quick to offer praise and encouragement when a friend is in need.

Second grade

Ava Puls brings so much joy and energy to the classroom. She is a great example of the importance of being herself. Ava trusts her ideas instead of first looking to see what her friends are doing.

Sawyer Martig knows about self-esteem. She doesn't compare herself to others. She is happy just the way God made her. She is a very positive person and always brings a smile with her.

Third grade

George Colletti has good self-esteem because he asks questions to better himself and so he can do better on a task the next time he does it. He participates in many activities that make him feel good inside and outside of the classroom.

Alainna Reefe has high self-esteem because she looks for the positive parts of things that could be negative. She has a high regard for her schoolwork and isn't afraid to seek help because she knows she will have a better outcome if she understands something.

Fourth, fifth, and sixth grade student award winners showed and modeled these as well and similar comments were sent home in letters about them. Congratulations to them all.


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