Oakwood Elementary School has made a name for itself as a school focused on raising young people for success. But what makes the school so special is its equal attention to character building and to academics – as evidenced by its recent naming as a 2015 Maryland School of Character by Character.org, a national leader and advocate for character education. The 313-student school is the lone county school among the 11 state schools recognized this year.

“We can’t just prepare students for academic proficiency, we also need to enable students to become responsible citizens who will help one another,” Principal Donna Usewick said.  “It is important to begin planting the seeds of positive characteristics in students at the elementary level.  Character Education is not a program but a way to create a positive culture through the teaching of 11 Essential Character Traits.”

The school is now eligible for the national award for schools that meet a gold standard of excellence by “providing students with opportunities for moral action, fostering shared leadership and engaging families and communities as partners in character-building efforts.” Oakwood won the national award in 2011.