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Louisa County Middle School honored with 2011 Promising Practices Award


Gregory V. Strickland, Chairman, Louisa County School Board

Dr. Deborah D. Pettit, Superintendent, Louisa County Public Schools



December 5, 2011


Contact: Jaclyn O’Laughlin

Public Information Specialist, Louisa County Public Schools

Phone: (540) 894-5115



 Louisa County Middle School Honored With 2011 Promising Practices Award


Louisa County Middle School was recently selected as one of the Character Education Partnership’s 2011 Promising Practices award winners for its Validation Program, which provides numerous benefits to students and staff, including the significant enhancement of students’ reading, writing, speaking and listening skills.

LCMS received one of the 260 Promising Practices awards that CEP gave to 235 schools and districts from across the United States, Brazil, Mexico, and Singapore. The organization recognizes schools and districts that have developed specific, unique, and effective educational practices that promote character development.

The Validation Program was created by retired Longwood University professor Dr. James Pirkle, who helped institute the program last year at LCMS along with Laura K. Mondrey, who is Pirkle’s former student and an assistant principal at the middle school.

The program involves grouping students into pairs, and teachers can also be paired with students, and then each person composes a “validation,” which is a piece of writing that is created by one “validation partner” to another. After each person writes a validation, which must be good and true about that person, then partners take turns standing in front of the class reading aloud his/her positive validation while their partner and the group listens.

During “Validation Time,” the teacher takes notes while the students share validations. These notes are used at the end as a “synthesis session” to reiterate the strong points of the session and to provide reinforcement and specific acknowledgement of certain virtues, positive examples, and unique expressions.

“We have been pleased over the years to observe that the program identifies and reinforces the various character traits of what it takes to be a good human being. Students see, identify, and write about these traits they see in their classmates, teachers, administrators, and others,” said Pirkle, who has been researching and developing the program for 35 years. “They become more ‘other-oriented,’ less egotistic, more considerate, polite and respectful. We have seen them become more responsible citizens and act on core ethical values more than ever. Their relationships with others become far more positive and cooperative.”

Through the validation program “you get to know the other person,” said Mondrey, adding that each session lasts about 30 minutes.

“Academically, English teachers really like validations, because students are writing and then speaking in public, which are valuable skills,” she said.

While pursuing her master’s degree at Longwood University, Mondrey explained that Dr. Pirkle would conduct validations within class. Due to its success at Longwood, Mondrey and Pirkle teamed up to bring the Validation Program to LCMS last January. Dr. Pirkle visited LCMS and trained teachers and piloted the program with eighth grade students. The program’s positive outcomes have been incalculable, and now the entire school is participating in the validation process.

“The program is low cost and it has a big impact, and then you can keep the validation,” said Mondrey. “We decided if the program was successful last year we would roll it over to next year, so we did.”

Now, teachers are conducting validations at their monthly faculty meetings, and custodians and secretaries have also received training to participate in the program.

“The LCMS personnel has embraced the program with the kind of rigor and vigor it takes to make the program work, and they are all to be commended for their sustained efforts,” said Pirkle.

Dr. Pirkle and Mondrey were presented with the Promising Practices award in San Francisco, CA at the Hyatt Regency Conference Center Hotel on October 20, 2011.

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