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Vestavia Hills Elementary Cahaba Heights earns Promising Practice certification for character initiative

June 18, 2024 — Vestavia Hills Elementary Cahaba Heights is being recognized nationally for its character education efforts.

Character.org, a national organization advocating for character education in schools, bestowed its “Promising Practice” certification earlier this month on the school’s “Grandpals Service Partnership” program. VHECH was one of just nine schools in Alabama recognized this year with a Promising Practice.

The Promising Practices certification is given to programs and initiatives which align with one or more of Character.org’s “11 Principles,” which call upon schools to develop a culture of character that extends to all aspects of school life and the surrounding community.

In the Grandpals Service Partnership, fifth-grade students from VHECH visit the neighboring New Merkel House each Wednesday during the school year to engage with senior adults over lunch. This initiative provides a unique opportunity for students to develop communication skills, learn about history from veterans, and gain valuable life lessons from the seniors’ experiences, VHECH principal Kim Polson said. The program began in 2017.

“It’s really as simple as our students engaging with others and learning how to communicate about the important things in life, all while bringing joy to our community’s senior adults,” Polson said.

Students and teachers are exploring ways to grow the school’s partnership with New Merkel House and broaden opportunities for service in the coming years, Polson added.

VHECH has been recognized by Character.org several times in recent years for its work in character education. The school previously received a Promising Practices award in 2019 for its “Safe and Happy Heights” character touchstone. The school was subsequently named a State and National School of Character in 2020.