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VHECH receives national recognition for character education

Safe and happy heights May 9, 2019 — Vestavia Hills Elementary Cahaba Heights is being recognized nationally for its emphasis on character education.

The school was recently highlighted in Character.org's annual list of Promising Practices for its "Safe and Happy Heights" program. VHECH was one of eight schools in Alabama receiving a Promising Practice award this year.

Safe and Happy Heights provides students at VHECH with clear expectations, positive behavioral supports, and a common language among faculty and staff when discussing character education, according to school counselor Cortney McKinney.

"The plan is based around what we call 'The Big Three,' which are: Be Safe, Be Respectful, Be Your Best, and we provide students with ways they can display The Big Three throughout school," principal Alicia Hunsberger, Ed.D., said.

The school has incorporated fun ways for students to learn these concepts, such as quarterly pep rallies called Rebel Rallies which celebrate all the ways students are learning, serving, and modeling character education.

The school also capitalized on its past work in character education with the VHECH Promise that is displayed prominently in hallways and is recited by students daily.

"The Promise says our students will pursue excellence, respect themselves and others, offer compassion, and make wise choices, among other things, which we believe encourages positive traits in our children and empowers them in their growth as people of good character and as community leaders," McKinney said.

The school plans to continue growing the program as students begin to recognize the importance of establishing good character in every facet of their lives.

"We've recently developed a Safe and Happy Heights matrix for the home as well, because our parents are seeing a difference in the way students act and the importance of instilling these values in every aspect of their lives," McKinney said.