SAN FRANCISCO - As people entered the room to hear "Drive your School with Purpose 24/7," they were invited to join the Sentinel Career and Technology Center bus.
"Welcome aboard our bus" could be heard as they filed in. This year, Sentinel's theme was "Get on the Bus," inspired by the book "The Energy Bus" by Jon Gordon. Allen Schultz, Career Pathways coordinator at Sentinel, said it is all about expectations at Sentinel, and a lot of people are on the bus.
"We have expectations for our students, and we have higher expectations for our staff, truthfully," Schultz said.
He said the career center's community consists of a lot of different people, including parents, teachers, administrative staff, custodians, business people, associate schools and, primarily, the students.
"Our community (members), they assist us in molding our students," he said.
Schultz; Elissa Heal, Sentinel's director; Sandy Reinhart, medical technology instructor; and Cathy Sorg, academy of business and careers in education instructor and chairwoman of Sentinel's character education committee, presented information about Sentinel's character education program Thursday afternoon during the 17th National Forum on Character Education in California.
Cathy Sorg, chairwoman of Sentinel’s character education committee, speaks during Thursday’s presentation.
All National Schools of Character must present at the conference and are to be honored today. Sentinel is the first career center in the country to be named a National School of Character.
Heal said people don't understand what career and technical education is. At Sentinel, students come from 12 partner schools and three neighboring counties, she said. People attending Sentinel's presentation got to see what a typical day at Sentinel looks like through a video produced by staff and students.
During the video, which featured a clip of a bus driving in the Sentinel parking lot, students were shown doing yard work, working in the kitchen, doing vehicle body work, cutting hair, putting up a bulletin board and using computers.
Heal said the career center's character education program started in 1999 and initially was staff driven. Today, she said, it is driven by staff, students, the community and parents. The program grew and developed from when it first featured banners, posters and character education shirts worn on Fridays.
"We started simple," Heal said.
Heal said when the school started focusing on the idea of a team three years ago, the character education program started to flourish. She said every year for the last three years, Sentinel has started the school year with a staff theme. The center has a team-building in-service day that provides professional development. The staff addresses goals and the district's vision, and employees start to set the tone for the school year, she said.
Also, the staff does team-building activities during meetings.
"There's definitely no 'I' in team," Sorg said.
At 8:25 a.m. every morning, either Heal or Assistant Director Bryan Zimmerman delivers the morning announcements. They review the core values of trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship, known as the six pillars of character, along with the motto "Character Counts! 24-7."
Sorg said character education is a team effort, and that is how Sentinel realized success with its program.