Clara Barton Elementary named National School of Character

Clara Barton Elementary named National School of Character

Also selected as a school with a Promising Practice

Redmond, Wash. – Clara Barton Elementary in Redmond has been recognized as a National School of Character. This is the second time Clara Barton Elementary has been recognized with this award. It is the only school in Washington state, and one of just 36 schools across the country, to receive the award this year. The recognition comes from, an organization dedicated to empowering people of all ages to practice and model core values. 

Karen Barker, the Principal of Clara Barton Elementary, says she is committed to the approaches outlined by, and is proud of her staff for their dedication.

"Clara Barton is a school that sets our foundational value on character development through Social-Emotional Learning,” said Barker. “This daily focus is a part of everything we do in this school.” 

Below is an overview of the feedback the school received during the final review:

"Clara Barton Elementary School, part of the Lake Washington School District in suburban Redmond, Washington opened in August 2018. Principal Karen Barker was given the opportunity to select a staff who shared her belief in developing strong students who are also good people. She and her team researched a variety of programs, read many books, attended workshops, and sought the best building blocks to ground their character initiative. They agreed to use the work of Dr. Tom Hoerr and his book called “The Formative Five.” The five traits in Hoerr’s work are empathy, self-control (self-discipline), integrity, embracing diversity, and grit. The team at Clara Barton adopted these as their core values and call them the Barton 5.

In the 4.5 years Clara Barton has been open, half of that time has been spent trying to teach during a global pandemic that significantly altered traditional education worldwide. Many schools barely managed to teach academics, Clara Barton did that and continued to embed the Barton 5 into all aspects of the community. Because of strong leadership, collective vision, and shared mission, a sense of community developed despite Covid-related setbacks. In 4.5 short years, they have created a warm community and a robust learning environment focused on strong academics and character development. Embracing diversity is more than words on a wall at Clara Barton; it is the expectation and a reality in the actions of students and staff alike."

Since its inception, the National Schools of Character program has impacted over three million students, staff, parents, and community members. The schools and districts that apply must meet the rigorous standards articulated in’s 11 Principles Framework for Schools. Each school is assessed by a team of trained evaluators. 

"There is an ethic of care at these schools,” adds Lori Soifer, who directs the Schools of Character program. “Working together with students, parents and community members, these schools are creating stronger communities focused on character."

Clara Barton Elementary program also selected by as a Promising Practice

In addition to being announced as a School of Distinction, has selected a program that Clara Barton Elementary runs as a Promising Practice. According to, Promising Practices are unique, effective and replicable initiatives that inspire “goodness in action” and contribute to the field of character development. Each Promising Practice aligns with one or more of the principles articulated in’s 11 Principles Framework. The program that Clara Barton Elementary has at its school is named Leadership Lab.

"Our Leadership Lab structure provides a weekly deep-dive into the application of Social-Emotional Learning into projects and activities that benefit our students and community," said Principal Barker. "I feel so fortunate to have a staff that is committed to this important work!" will honor the 2023 National Schools and Districts of Character and the Promising Practice recipients at its next International Forum, to be held in Washington D.C., November 5-7, 2023. 


About Lake Washington: Lake Washington School District is a high-performing, fast-growing public school district serving Kirkland, Redmond, and Sammamish, Washington. It is the second largest district in the state of Washington, with over 30,500 students in 57 schools. 

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