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MPLS Citizenship Program


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 Leadership Provided from Kim Miller and Clare Struck

The University of Northern Iowa's Malcolm Price Laboratory School (MPLS) in Cedar Falls, Iowa, was the 2010 winner of ASCD's first-ever Vision in Action: The ASCD Whole Child Award. ASCD honored Price Laboratory School because of the intentional and specific steps its educators took to ensure that students at every level—from preschoolers to high school juniors and seniors—are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.  See descriptions of these program elements and and links to videos that illustrate further how these important aspects of the program make a difference in the lives of students.

  • Video: Healthy: All 369 students participated in daily physical education classes and a weekly health program for juniors and seniors. This program empowered the older students to take responsibility for their own health and fitness. With a new breakfast and lunch program, Grassroots Café, PLS was able to provide its students with fresh and organic foods grown from local farms and has drastically cut down the amount of processed foods served to the students.

  • Video: Safe: To guarantee that their students were safe, educators at PLS instituted the "Be a Buddy, Not a Bully!" program for their elementary students. With an emphasis on character education, students were taught about their responsibility to respect themselves and others.

  • Video: Engaged: Educators at PLS engaged their students through project-based learning focused on topics of the students' choosing. The 8th graders participate in "The Empathy Project," in which students develop films that raise awareness, stimulate empathy, and call viewers to action on a variety of issues including the danger of gossip, cyber bullying, and using slurs. The 11th graders participated in projects that include hosting a radio talk show, engaging in service learning, and job shadowing, among many others. 

  • Video: Supported: At PLS, all 6th–12th grade students participated in advisory groups daily at the middle school level and a minimum of twice a month in the high school level. Advisory groups participated in developmentally appropriate activities and moral discussions, and some students viewed their advisor as an "in-school parent."

  • Video: Challenged: All MPLS students participated in a college preparatory curriculum; 11th and 12th graders also participated in a multicomponent Junior/Senior Options Program. This program allowed students to personalize their own curriculum with flexible scheduling. Some of the options students could choose to participate in were dual-enrollment university courses, individualized courses, internships with local business, cadet teaching, and senior projects.



Nielsen, L., Finkelstein, J., Schmidt, A., Duncan, A. (2008). Citizenship education: Engaging children in building community. Social Studies and the Young Learner, 21(1), 19-23.

Miller, K. Struck, C. (2006).  Price Laboratory School Elementary Citizenship Program:  A Laboratory for Democracy. 1 (1), 15-18.

Nielsen, L.(1998). New study shows states returning to character education. Character Educator, 6(1), 9.

Nielsen, L. (1997). Research summary: the status of character education from the perspective of state departments of education. Social Studies Review, 37(1), 20-22.

Miller, K. Struck, C. (1996). Character education: Price Laboratory School Citizenship Program, 1 (1), 12-15.

Nielsen, L., Fraser, P. (1995).The status of character education from the perspective of state departments of education .  National Association of Laboratory Schools Journal,  XX(1), 14-17.

Nielsen, L., Finkelstein, J. (1988). Citizenship education: looking at government. Social Studies and the Young Learner, 1(1), 10-13.


2005 First Amendment (FAS) Program
2005 First Amendment (FAS) Assemblies, Awards and Programs
2007 Iowa School of Character and National Schools of Character Finalist
2008 National Schools of Character Application Narrative
2008 CEP Finalist Award
2008 Schools of Character Award Banner
2008 Schools of Character Award Press Release
2008 National Schools of Character Award Presentation
2010 ASCD Whole Child Award Banner
2010 Vision in Action: The Whole Child Award Recipient

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