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Character Counts!

Union Public Schools

In an effort to encourage the development of moral character in students, Union Public Schools has incorporated the Character Counts! program into its educational curriculum.

Developed by the Josephson Institute of Ethics, the Character Counts! program is based on six core values, or "Pillars of Character:" respect, responsbility, caring, trustworthiness, fairness and citizenship.

Pillars of Character / Character Counts! Coalition  / 

About the program

Since 1996, Union Public Schools has trained teachers, principals and community leaders to incorporate the "Six Pillars of Character" into classroom and extra-curricular activities. While Character Counts! is strongly supported by the administration at Union Public Schools, the specifics of the program are as varied as the creativity of individual teachers. Character Counts! is used across the school district at all grade levels from Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade and takes many forms as appropriate to the age and interest of students.

There is no specific curriculum assigned for the teaching of character. Some activities are school-wide, such as assemblies and award presentations for showing good character, while others take place in the context of classroom discussions regarding current events or storybook characters. Steering committees at each school help coordinate the integration of character into each school’s environment.

Learn more about the Character Counts! Coalition, visit

Sample Activities at Union Schools

  • Morning announcements commend students for showing character.
  • Posters and banners displaying the "Six Pillars of Character" are displayed throughout the school.
  • Quotations about character are placed on school marquees.
  • Monthly assemblies reward students for the previous month’s theme and introduce the next month’s theme; the programs feature songs and skits by teachers, principals and students.
  • "Character Bucks" bearing the likeness of principals’ faces are distributed to award good behavior; "Caught Showing (Trait)" entries are entered in drawings for rewards.
  • Courtesy tables allow select students to lunch with the principal. 
  • Prizes are donated for Intermediate High School students who receive "Character Bucks."
  • T-shirts, pencils, stickers, posters and buttons are among prizes awarded elementary students.
  • Teachers who model character are awarded special posters for classroom display.
  • In one school, two students at each grade level who have shown good character during the month dine at a local restaurant where a special table is set aside for the students and their families. Each student receives a free meal and has their picture displayed during the month.
  • Display cases, bulletin boards and door decorations depict pillars of the month.
    Student and faculty committees are formed to address student life issues centered around Character Counts!
  • Book characters, historical figures and current event individuals are highlighted as examples of "good" or "bad" character.
  • Rules are enforced around the pillars of character.
  • Art, music and speech contests feature Character Counts!
  • Reading and writing assignments center around the pillars of character.
  • Newsletters from Parent Teacher Associations (PTA) highlight monthly character traits for parents.
  • Articles in district-wide publications emphasize Character Counts! activities around the district.
  • Peer mediation is based around pillars of character.
  • Words emphasizing character traits are included in weekly spelling lists.
  • "Caring" projects within each school help the needy with food, clothing and gifts.

Union Public SchoolsPillars of Character

(Emphasized in September)

Treat others with respect, follow the Golden Rule;
Be tolerant of differences;
Use good manners, not bad language;
Be considerate of the feelings of others;
Don’t threaten, hit or hurt anyone;
Deal peacefully with anger, insults and disagreements.

(Emphasized in October)

Do what you are supposed to do;
Persevere: keep on trying!
Always do your best;
Use self-control;
Be self-disciplined;
Think before you act – consider the consequences;
Be accountable for your choices.

(Emphasized in November and December)

Be kind;
Be compassionate and show you care;
Express gratitude;
Forgive others.

(Emphasized in January and February) 

Be honest;
Don’t deceive, cheat or steal;
Be reliable – do what you say you’ll do;
Have the courage to do the right thing;
Build a good reputation;
Be loyal – stand by your family, friends and country.

(Emphasized in March)

Play by the rules;
Take turns and share;
Be open-minded; listen to others;
Don’t take advantage of others;
Don’t blame others carelessly.

(Emphasized in April) 

Do your share to make your school and community better;
Stay informed; vote!
Be a good neighbor;
Obey laws and rules;
Respect authority;
Protect the environment.

Union Public Schools

District Announcement

Happy Holidays

Wishing you Joy and Peace at the Holidays and throughout the New Year.

Union Public Schools will be closed for winter break December 23-January 3, 2020. School will resume on Monday, January 6, 2020.

During the winter break, Union offices will be closed December 24-January 2, 2020.

May Joy and Peace be yours throughout the New Year.

Wishing you Joy and Peace at the Holidays and throughout the New Year.  Union Public Schools will be closed for winter break December 23-January 3, 2020. School will resume on Monday, January 6, 2020.  During the winter break, Union offices will be closed December 24-January 2, 2020.  May Joy and Peace be yours throughout the New Year.

Administrative Changes Announced

Scott Pennington named director of new Hope – Guidance – Social and Emotional Learning Department;   Clayton Hucke named interim 7th Grade Principal

Dear Union Parents and Guardians: 

I am excited to announce that Mr. Scott Pennington, principal at the Union 6th & 7th Grade Center, has been asked to lead a new department within Teaching and Learning entitled Hope – Guidance – Social and Emotional Learning. As you know, we are in the second year of our five-year district strategic plan. One of the elements of this plan is Union’s Learning Model that focuses on literacy, cognitive capacity, engagement, and social and emotional learning.

As we continuously evaluate our data, and hear from teachers and our site leaders, there continues to be a dominant narrative that more must be done to address the social and emotional development of our students. Collectively speaking, our teachers continue to do amazing work in providing dynamic learning experiences for our students. It is now time for us to articulate a tiered approach to addressing unwanted student behaviors and student trauma – at all grade levels – while also fostering greater hope and confidence in our students’ lives. The idea is that we will be more proactive in our efforts, providing counseling and guidance to address the social, emotional, and academic needs of our students. I firmly believe this will make a positive difference in our students’ lives and in the learning culture of our buildings.

Mr. Pennington’s work as a special education teacher, assistant principal, and principal make him uniquely qualified to lead in this new position. In addition to this change, I am also pleased to announce that Mr. Clay Hucke, assistant principal at Union High School, has been asked to serve as an interim principal at the Sixth & Seventh Grade Center. Mr. Hucke has done an outstanding job at the high school and he looks forward to serving the students, staff, and parents at this site.

Please join me in congratulating Mr. Pennington and Mr. Hucke. These moves will become effective January 1, 2020.


Kirt Hartzler, Ed.D.
Union Public Schools

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Contact Information

Union Public Schools
8506 E. 61st Street
Tulsa, Oklahoma 74133
Phone: 918-357-4321

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