The Glenholme School Commemorates 20 Years as a Leader in Character Education

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Character education and a positive school climate are the underpinnings for success of all students — including students with special needs. The Glenholme School has made a steadfast effort for two decades to instill in their students the important ethical, civic and core values such as honesty, respect, fairness, kindness, responsibility and community service.

The Glenholme School

The Glenholme School is a therapeutic boarding school for students with high functioning autism spectrum disorders including Asperger's, ADHD, PDD, OCD, Tourette's, depression, anxiety and various lea

The Glenholme School is a life changing experience for kids with special needs.

Each year, the U.S. President and other officials around the world proclaim the third week of October as CHARACTER COUNTS! Week. Along with celebrating the 2014 proclamation, The Glenholme School, a therapeutic boarding school for young people with high functioning autism spectrum disorders including Asperger’s and various learning differences in Washington, Connecticut, celebrates 20 years as a leader in character education.

In the mid-1990s, Glenholme was the first school in the State of Connecticut to adopt Character Counts. The school expanded the initiative by spreading the concept of character education and the change of school climate statewide. The positive impact of the character education program at Glenholme was noted in the February 29, 1996 Congressional Record and in October of 1996, the national Character Counts Coalition spokesman, actor and producer, Tom Selleck visited Glenholme and spoke with students. In 2000, the school was chosen for a Promising Practices Citation by the Character Education Partnership. The honor came as a result of the Glenholme's work in establishing the Teens Who Care Foundation, a student-operated charitable foundation.

In the two decades that followed, the Glenholme community has continued its focus on a positive school climate and the character development of its students. Jo Ann Freiberg of the Connecticut State Department of Education provided a presentation on ensuring a healthy school climate to support student achievement at the school in June of 2014. The two hour presentation substantiated the correlation between a positive school climate and the quality and character of school life for students. The topics encompassed focus and purpose of changing school climate, how the school culture influences learning, and the impact of school connectedness on student achievement — all of which are fundamental elements in the Glenholme program.

The positive climate and character development efforts are evident throughout the school setting. During the visit, Dr. Freiberg noted, “you are far ahead as a faculty with regards to a positive school climate and creating culturally connected students. It is evident in the language of the school that collectively you focus on and address the behaviors that impact climate on a community-wide basis.”

At The Glenholme School, everyone has an active role in the school community to demonstrate and teach the universal character values of honesty, respect, responsibility, fairness, kindness, and community service while upholding the positive school climate. The predictable and consistent school setting supports the academic, social, and emotional development of Glenholme students.

Maryann Campbell, the executive director of Glenholme, has been involved with the character education and positive school climate effort at the school since its commencement in 1994. Ms. Campbell noted, “Dr. Freiberg affirmed and validated our efforts over these many years. By taking the concepts of the presentation and making them practical, the potential is there for this to have significant impact with opportunity, practice and feedback.”

Jo Ann Freiberg, Ph.D is an education consultant with the Connecticut State Department of Education and a member of the National School Climate Council. She oversees management of programs and issues relating to character education, bullying, and school climate improvement. She has over 30 years of professional education experience covering elementary to post-secondary teaching, as well as a consulting independently and for the State Department of Education. Currently Dr. Freiberg is focusing efforts on the Connecticut Accountability Initiative of improving school climate statewide.

About The Glenholme School:
The Glenholme School, a center of the Devereux organization, is a therapeutic boarding school for young people with high functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders including Asperger’s; ADHD, PDD, OCD, Tourette’s, depression, anxiety, and various learning differences. The program provides a treatment milieu designed to help students become competent, socially and academically. Our learning environment supports and enhances the success of students with special needs. For more information about The Glenholme School and its program, visit the website at

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Denise Watson
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