In 2018, Hilltop was honored as a national and state school of character. The process began with an application in which the New Jersey Alliance for Social, Emotional, and Character Development announced the honor. Hilltop is one of only 19 New Jersey schools, out of more than 2500, in the state to earn this designation. The honor then moved the school to the national level, where the same designation was determined based on strict criteria.
Hilltop's School of Character team submitted a detailed application, including the school’s overview and character education journey. Each year, schools are selected that demonstrate a positive impact on academic achievement, student behavior, and school climate due to their character education program. The criteria for this recognition include, presenting students and staff with opportunities for moral action, shared leadership and ways to engage families and communities as partners in character-building efforts. These traits have never been more important than now.
“Understanding what it means to be of good character is something we value at Hilltop. Appreciating the success of our students in academics and by how they show respect, caring and kindness is a true measure of a person,” said Hilltop’s Principal, David Heller.
At Hilltop, teachers, students, administrators, parents and community members, play a key role in the character development of our students. Fourth grade teacher Kathy McGoldrick added, “We work each day to infuse our school environment with an atmosphere that makes children happy to come to school, comfortable to trust others, and encouraged to be their best selves.”
Mr. Heller praised the efforts of the team-effort it takes to establish and follow through on a successful character education program. “At Hilltop, we plan lessons so students gain a deeper understanding of respect, caring, trustworthiness. At home, parents provide the same guidance and leadership, allowing children to practice these skills each day.”
Hilltop continues to look for ways to improve their character education program to help prepare children for all challenges they may face.