• Implementation of Rachel's Challenge: A Qualitative Study Analyzing the Impact of the Character Education Program on Resiliency, Culture, and Community in a Suburban High School

      Shapiro, Joan Poliner; Gross, Steven Jay; Hunt, Portia L.; DuCette, Joseph P.; Partlow, Michelle Chaplin, 1941- (Temple University. Libraries, 2013)
      This qualitative case study examines the impact of a character education program, Rachel's Challenge, in a high school to determine if the implementation of the program promotes resiliency, improves school culture, and supports an increased sense of community within the school. I examine, in rich detail, a suburban high school which implemented Rachel's Challenge and the research thoroughly formulates a description of the school prior to the implementation of the program and following the implementation of the program to determine the impact of the character education initiative on the school's culture, the resilience development of the school community members, and the sense of community within the institution. I collected the data in a suburban high school located in a Mid-Atlantic state. Limiting my study to one school provided me the necessary and advantageous opportunity to gain a rich description of the possible impacts of the program while also allowing me to deeply immerse myself into the realities of the participants. In-depth interviews were carried out with students, parents, counselors, administrators, and teachers to gain a rich understanding of any need for and value of the program and of any impacts of the program on the school's culture, the development of resilience, and a sense of connection and community. Constructs of Turbulence Theory are used to dissect the value of the character education program; I examined what need induced the implementation of the program in the school community and any positive impacts of the program on the school culture, resilience development, and sense of connection and community. Constructs of Resilience Theory are used, as it has been applied to individuals and organizations, to analyze the possible impact of the character education program on the resilience levels within the school community. Interviews were carried out with the various key-players within the high school who offered a wide interpretation of the effects of the character education program on the overall school culture and the level of resilience within the school community. A thorough document review was also carried out to further explore any impacts of the program on school culture, resilience development, and sense of community to clarify and further add to the interviews. The data provide educational leaders with a practical understanding of the impact of character education, namely the Rachel's Challenge program, on school culture and the development of resilience within a school community to help leaders formulate a value of its implementation in their schools. The research provides evidence that the Rachel's Challenge program did improve school culture in this particular school by encouraging a community built on acceptance, inclusion, kindness, respect, and compassion. The program encouraged pro-social behavioral changes within the school as well as promoted an anti-bullying message to the members of the school community. The research also provides evidence that the Rachel's Challenge program did promote the development of individual and community resilience at this particular school as demonstrated by an enhanced ability to stand up against peer pressure as well as the promotion of strength in the face of adversity and a sense of connection and unity within the school community.