TMP earns national honors
By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN
The addition of a character education program at Thomas More Prep-Marian Junior-Senior High School has brought national recognition to the local Catholic school.
TMP is to be honored today at an awards ceremony in Washington because of a "Power to Achieve" program it implemented last year as part of an initiative by the Kansas State Board of Education.
Kansas was one of the first states to adopt social, emotional character standards, and TMP was the first private school to receive a safe and supportive schools grant given to start the pilot program.
As one 12 schools that received a Promise Practicing Award from the KSBOE last spring for successful implementation of effective character education programs, TMP was eligible for national competition.
TMP was notified this summer it was being honored nationally, and Principal Kathy Taylor and ESL teacher Stacey Lang, coordinator of S3 at TMP, made plans to attend the Character Education Partnership National Conference in Washington.
Then this fall, Sue Kidd -- in charge of the Kansas Character Development Initiative -- contacted Taylor to ask if she and Lang would participate on a panel for a forum at the national conference.
"We were new to all this, so it was definitely a surprise," said Taylor, who already has experienced a whirlwind fall semester.
After serving as guidance counselor at TMP the past 26 years, Taylor was named the school's principal in June.
"(The program) was just good practice," Taylor said. "We didn't think we were doing anything that out of the ordinary."
Those at the national level thought otherwise, selecting TMP's program as one of the best in the country and asking representatives to tell others at the national conference why it works.
TMP's "Power to Achieve" program included numerous school alternative activities including an all-school lock-in, multicultural day and an ethnic festival trip to Kansas City, as well as an ongoing "Parent Power" program.
This year's schedule for the parent program, which features a series of presentations on topics to help give advice on raising teenagers, begins at 7 p.m. Monday at TMP and will continue monthly through March. Topics range from personal finance for teenagers to the importance of being involved in school.