2022 State School of Character

First and only schools in Washington state to receive award.

Redmond, Wash. – Ella Baker Elementary and Clara Barton Elementary have been named State Schools of Character by Character.org. They are the only two schools in Washington state to receive this award, and are among 67 schools nationwide to be recognized. They are also the first to receive this recognition in Washington state.

“This is a huge honor for our school teams,” noted Kim Bilanko, Principal, Ella Baker Elementary and Karen Barker, Principal, Clara Barton Elementary. “Along with the recognition, our school teams receive evaluative feedback, strengths and areas for growth. and are able to collaborate with Character.org consultants for support. We are thrilled to be able to continue on our journey developing our character initiatives.”

“Congratulations to both Ella Baker Elementary and Clara Barton Elementary for receiving this recognition,” said Dr. Jon Holmen, Lake Washington School District Superintendent. “Principal Barker and Principal Bilanko opened their schools with a commitment to addressing character and the social and emotional well-being of students. Their schools continue to be models for addressing all aspects of student needs.”  

Watch this video to learn more about how Ella Baker Elementary and Clara Barton Elementary achieved this recognition: https://youtu.be/NRmyO9hnkAQ.


Each year, Character.org certifies schools and districts at the state level that demonstrate a dedicated focus on character development which has a positive effect on academic achievement, student behavior, and school climate. Recognized schools and districts will be considered for Character.org’s highest distinction - National School of Character.

State review teams evaluate applications based on the standards found in the 11 Principles Framework. Schools receive a score-sheet with comments citing strengths, areas of growth, and potential Promising Practices. Character.org announces the schools and districts that have met the criteria for state certification at the end of January. State certification is valid for five years. Schools and districts that achieve state certification are invited to participate in the national review that same year using the same application.


About Lake Washington: Lake Washington School District is a high-performing 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.

About Character.org: Character.org is a worldwide network that empowers people of all ages to practice and model the ethical core values that shape our hearts, minds and choices. Formerly known as the Character Education Partnership, the organization has relentlessly advocated for character since 1993. Today, Character.org creates and shares resources that support people around the globe, including the 11 Principles Framework for Schools: A Guide to Cultivating a Culture of Character. The organization’s vision is to be the global leader and voice for developing character in families, schools, and organizations.