Downey Unified announces national designation after years of spearheading Character education program

On Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020, Downey Unified held a CHARACTER COUNTS! (CC!) Coalition Meeting where numerous community partners were in attendance to hear an update on CC! and how this program is incorporated daily across the school district. During this meeting, an official announcement was made that Downey Unified has been designated as a national CC! Exemplary School District. This recognition comes after over a decade of implementing this Character Education program districtwide.

We are proud to designate the Downey Unified School District with the prestigious honor of attaining the designation of the CHARACTER COUNTS! Exemplary School District,” expressed Scott Raecker, Executive Director of the Robert D. and Billie Ray Center at Drake University, which is the global home to the CHARACTER COUNTS! initiative. “The Ray Center is proud to continue to work with the Downey Unified School District to maintain CHARACTER COUNTS! Exemplary School District status in the years to come.”

Downey Unified has reinstated a multi-year commitment for a continued integration of the CC! framework that includes significant faculty/staff training, student leadership engagement, parent connectivity, utilization of classroom resources, special projects and community engagement. Downey Unified will continue to provide CC! Pursuing Victory With Honor professional development to all coaches as a tool to impart strategies to help implement character development into their work with student athletes.

In addition, over the next three years Downey Unified will select Character Champions at each school who will have the opportunity to participate in one-day professional development sessions focused on specific aspects of character development based on the needs of teachers and schools.  The district will also receive monthly support provided by CC! Master Trainers so that staff have a continuous stream of resources and information to use across Downey Unified.

Joining Downey Unified’s Board of Education and staff where City of Downey Mayor Blanca Pacheco, Downey Police Department Chief Dean Milligan and Captain Leslie Murray, Downey Fire Department Chief Mark Gillaspie, as well as members from the Downey Foundation for Educational Opportunities, Downey Family YMCA, ASPIRE, GOOD and the City’s Parks and Recreation Department.

Prior to the announcement being made, attendees heard a presentation from Downey Unified’s Senior Director of Student Safety, Wellness and Engagement, Dr. Robert Jagielski.  Dr. Jagielski presented on the latest CC! happening within the schools as well as what Character Education looks like on a daily basis.