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TMP praised for character building

5/2/2013

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

dobrien@dailynews.net

Members of the character education team at Thomas More Prep-Marian Junior-Senior High School in Hays will be in Topeka today, attending a recognition ceremony for the school's participation in a national pilot program through the Kansas State Department of Education.

As part of a push for social, emotional and character development state standards, KSDE began an initiative and offered a national grant to participate in the Character Education Partnership, a national organization promoting character education programs in schools.

Rachel Wentling, then assistant principal at TMP, successfully wrote a grant last year, and TMP participated in the program this school year while using the "Power to Achieve" research-based program.

TMP was chosen by KSDE as one of the 12 schools to receive a Promise Practicing Award for successful implementation of effective character education programs.

In addition, TMP won the Spotlight Award given to schools that highlighted an activity that helped achieve the states SECD standards.

Wentling, who took the job as principal at Holy Family Elementary School last summer, had to watch TMP's participation in the pilot program from afar.

But Kathy Taylor, guidance counselor at TMP who took over some of Wentling's duties upon her departure, gives Wentling credit for her persistence in getting a private school one of the grants.

Principal Bill DeWitt, one of those who planned to attend today's ceremony, agreed.

"This was a great opportunity to instill character education into our curriculum," he said.

Those scheduled to accompany DeWitt today were Kathy Pfeifer, high school English teacher; Theresa Clark, junior high counselor; and Michelle Fairbank, director of admissions and residential life.

Taylor said the Power to Achieve program fits well into the school's service-oriented philosophy.

"We were doing some character curriculum anyway," said Taylor, who added the TMP team plans to add parent programs next year. "But this is one of the nation's top programs, so it's been a real asset."