Leaders at Tuscaloosa City Schools are celebrating after an elementary school was named a 2024 National School of Character this week.

Lydia Avant, a spokesperson for the school system, said Oakdale Elementary School is the fourth TCS school to be given this honor by educators at character.org in the last three years.

The designation highlights primary and secondary schools where faculty and staff "demonstrate a dedicated focus on character development and have formed a positive and powerful school culture."

“This is a great honor. We are ecstatic,” said Dr. Lucille Prewitt, principal of Oakdale. “To be a State School of Character was awesome, but the national award means we really worked hard and people are recognizing it.”

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It's no small task to earn the honor - on 73 schools did this year, and just four in Alabama including Oakdale and Northside Middle School in Tuscaloosa County.

A school's faculty and staff must be proactive in work to improve school culture and climate, social and emotional learning and student engagement.

Those are also tenets TCS instills across more than two dozen schools, and at Oakdale specifically, staff said their core values include self-control, optimism, accountability and respect.

It's about more than earning an award, too - Principal Prewitt said the shift in focus has led to a measurable, positive impact in the classroom.

“In the past, we had a lot of conflict and kids didn’t know how to resolve it. They now know how to resolve conflict, and if they know something isn’t the Oakdale way, they don’t do it.” she said.

For more coverage of news from TCS and around west Alabama, stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread.

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