Winterville school one of two in state to receive character award has named Ridgewood Elementary School in Winterville as a 2018 National School of Character. (Ashley Boles, NewsChannel 12 photo)

    Character counts and for one school in our area, it counts a lot. has named Ridgewood Elementary School in Winterville as a 2018 National School of Character. Ridgewood is one of two school in the state to win the award, which is given based on a school's sue of character development in all it does.

    "I think what's most rewarding is actually observing the kids and seeing what they do, how the interact with one another," said Olivia Salter, Ridgewood Elementary school counselor. "You know we tell them character is what you do when nobody else is watching."

    There have been 547 schools nationwide to have won the award, which is in its 20th year.

    Below is a press release from Pitt County Schools with more information.


    WINTERVILLE, NC – Pitt County Schools is pleased to announce that Ridgewood Elementary School has been named a 2018 National School of Character., the nonprofit organization that validates character initiatives in schools and community around the world, designated 73 schools from 17 states as National Schools of Character, with Ridgewood Elementary being one of only two schools in the state of North Carolina to receive the national designation. This follows Ridgewood Elementary being named a state School of Character earlier this year. recognized Ridgewood as a school that has demonstrated its use of character development to drive a positive impact on academics, student behavior and Ridgewood’s climate. Ridgewood Elementary has over 780 students in grades K-5. The school’s efforts toward earning the designation of both a state and national School of Character were led by Principal Leslie Hayes and School Counselor Olivia Salter.

    “Ridgewood is so fortunate to have an amazing group of staff members who understand and value the importance of developing character in our students,” Salter shared. “They acknowledge that our students’ emotional and social growth is just as important as their academic growth, and they work hard to integrate this into the standard curriculum. Ridgewood Elementary provides a supportive environment and sincerely values the whole child.”

    Since the inception of’s Schools of Character program in 1998, 547 schools have been designated as National Schools of Character, impacting more than 3 million people’s lives Each year, and its state affiliates certify schools that demonstrate a dedicated focus on character development with a positive impact on academic achievement, student behavior, school climate and their communities. evaluates schools selected in January as State Schools of Character for consideration for national certification as National Schools of Character.

    “A National School of Character is not built in a year,” says Hayes. “The foundation for Ridgewood Elementary’s recognition was set in 2008 when the school opened. Ridgewood has an excellent reputation, and it is because of staff and students who excel in many areas which keeps our reputation strong. Not only do we have high expectations for our students in academic areas, but we also expect students to demonstrate teamwork, strong ethics, and leadership.”

    Through an in-depth and rigorous evaluation process, Ridgewood Elementary was found to be an exemplary model in character development. Criteria for selection are based on’s 11 Principles of Effective Character Education, a framework to assist schools in providing students with opportunities for moral action, fostering shared leadership and engaging families and communities as partners in the character-building effort.

    "At, we are extremely proud of this year’s National Schools of Character. Their dedication to character development is reducing the skills gap by equipping the future workforce with transferable relationship skills needed to meet tomorrow's challenges," said Doug Karr,’s President & CEO. "Validating character initiatives is at the core of what we do, because they create fertile conditions for multi-generational character growth in communities of character. This year as we celebrate our Silver Anniversary, we are excited to also recognize 20 years of incredible National Schools of Character.” will honor the designated schools at its 25th National Forum on Character to be held October 4-7, 2018, in Washington, D.C. Visit to learn more about the National Forum, the Schools of Character Certification (State & National) and the 2018 national honorees.

    Mrs. Hayes added, “At the end of our morning announcements, we always say ‘Ridgewood sharks are responsible, respectful, and safe leaders!’ With support from our incredible staff and dedicated parents, we are shaping the character of our students so that they will choose to do what is right even when it is difficult.”


    About Founded in 1993,, is a national nonprofit based in Washington, D.C. The mission of the organization is to provide leadership and advocacy for character worldwide. It is dedicated to helping people everywhere become educated, inspired and empowered to be ethical and compassionate citizens. validates character initiatives in schools, sports, families and the workplace through certifications, convenings and the exchange of best practices. Results of effective character initiatives in schools typically include improved academic achievement, a decline in behavioral problems and an increase in an overall positive school climate.

    About Character Education: Character education is an approach to school culture and climate improvement that supports the social, emotional and ethical development of students. It is the proactive and intentional effort by schools, districts, communities and states to help students develop important core ethical (recognizing what’s right) and performance (doing what’s right) values such as empathy, honesty, diligence, fairness, fortitude, responsibility, grit, creativity, critical thinking and respect for self and others.

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