What's Happening in Character Education?

Advice to Graduates in 2017

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Thu, May 25, 2017 @ 09:05 AM

One of the things I always liked about teaching is that each year brings a beginning and a closure. Most jobs don’t have that; days and years tend to run together, with varying projects, perhaps, but no ceremonial starts and stops. Of course, for education, the biggest ceremony of all is graduation. 

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Topics: core values, graduation, Sipos Becky ,

Developing Character from Those Closest to Us

Posted by Maggie Taylor on Thu, May 18, 2017 @ 10:05 AM

As a staff, we believe in practicing what you preach, and as such we often reflect on our own core values. When we drill down to the root of it, many of us come to find that it was indeed our family who instilled the values we've come to know, love and live by. Below, you'll find stories from some of the Character.org team and how our families influenced our character.

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Topics: family, core values

Five Tips for Teaching Core Values

Posted by Tina Haas on Thu, May 11, 2017 @ 09:05 AM

The teaching of values sounds like something that should be done at home under the parents' discretion, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, not all parents are doing this. This may be due to a number of reasons, so who is to take on this essential job?

As teachers, if we focus solely on teaching academic content without a moral compass, what kind of citizens are we producing? Educated people that lack a strong moral foundation run the risk of applying their skills in ways that do not enhance the quality of our world. Even worse, they run the risk of using those skills  to lead people in the wrong direction, and if one day they find themselves in a position of power, they may use it to make decisions that are destructive to our communities or world. If world leaders of the past held values that were deeply rooted from a young age, mankind would be in a better place for it. This is our chance to make a difference for the future of our world, to create a society of smart and good citizens, and it is imperative that we approach it the right way.

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Topics: core values, 11 Principles

12 Simple Acts to Show Your Teacher Appreciation

Posted by Barbara Gruener on Thu, May 4, 2017 @ 09:05 AM

It’s that time of year again, a chance to express and show appreciation and gratitude toward a very special group of women and men, those educators in our lives who work tirelessly to shape the hearts and minds of our most precious resource, our children. And while we don’t have to wait until National Teacher Appreciate Week to show our school faculty and staff how grateful we are for their positive influence and inspiration, the first week of the last month of school is a fantastic time to warm their worlds with kindness so that they can feel that they are valued, treasured and loved.  

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Topics: Teacher Appreciation

Five Tips Teachers and Parents Can Use Together to Prevent Cyberbullying

Posted by Jana Rooheart on Thu, Apr 27, 2017 @ 09:04 AM

The internet is considered children and teens’ territory, yet adults are still obliged to prevent cyberbullying associated with it. Usually they are parents and teachers with whom kids spend the most of their time. However, the latter are often reluctant to report about online abuse. Of course, a lot has been already done to reduce the number of victims, but the problem still remains. Considering its possible consequences, including the fatal outcome, we cannot tolerate complacency. For sure, there is a way to change the situation for the better if teachers and parents, who have the most interest in kids’ safety, join their hands to reduce the prevalence of cyberbullying.

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Topics: cyberbullying, Techology

We’re wired for friendship, whether we’re 5 or 45

Posted by Phyllis L. Fagell on Thu, Apr 20, 2017 @ 14:04 PM

I still have the handmade pillow I sewed with a friend in fourth grade. We wrote “best friends forever” in puffy paint across the surface. I also have the "slam book" my friends and I created at a sixth grade sleepover. In it, we listed each other’s flaws, then discussed our findings. It amazes me that we considered that a good idea. At 12, peer approval was everything, and those comments stuck. It was 30 years before I cut bangs again. We alternately loved and tested one another, and it wasn’t always pretty.

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Topics: Friendship

What I Owe to Nature

Posted by Heather Cazad on Thu, Apr 13, 2017 @ 10:04 AM

When I was three, I lived in the country where my mom owned 21 acres of woodsy hillside. I was too young to form many memories there before we moved, but of the ones that remain, all but two took place outside. I had a swing set that faced the hill, and on pretty days, I would swing and focus my attention to the hill with all of its untouched trees and weeds, on the hawks that soared overhead, on the sound of nature around me. I felt the warm breeze as I watched butterflies and bees pass by. That was my happy place, outside in my little clearing. 

When I was ten, I begged my dad to take me to the park every chance we got to walk the paths, see the squirrels and traverse the creeks and streams. We played games and talked, but mostly, we blazed our own trails through the woods in revered silence. As we walked, we listened to the frogs and the echo of twigs beneath our feet.

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Topics: earth day

Relevance, Relationships and Service Learning

Posted by Meghann Persenaire on Thu, Mar 23, 2017 @ 09:03 AM

Relevance A young man, formerly incarcerated, stood on our auditorium’s dimly lit stage, and asked our scholars the following question: “Raise your hand if you know someone who is currently or was recently in prison.” With each moment of silence that followed, dozens of scholars quietly raised their hands. Refoundry, a nonprofit that trains formerly incarcerated people to repurpose discarded materials into home furnishings, is one of a few organizations that our scholars partner with each year.

Each month, our scholars select a social or environmental issue or organization that is relevant to them, for which they are passionate. Our scholars select a social or environmental issue that directly affects their families and/or their communities in Harlem and the Bronx. Mrs. Stephanie Fernandez, who also mentors our student government, and Ms. Karina Perez, who also mentors our National Junior Society, mentor scholars and guide them as they write lesson plans, contact organizations, and write proposals to our school’s Board of Directors and administration. However, it is because these issues are selected by and relevant to our scholars that we witnessed the marriage of service and learning, that we saw a month dedicated to “Reducing Recidivism” or “Equality” go beyond the canned food drive.

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Topics: Service learning, Caring Community

Service Learning for Character and Academic Lessons

Posted by David Wangaard on Thu, Mar 16, 2017 @ 08:03 AM

"Your [service learning] program has allowed me to reach students that I thought were unreachable. Their entire outlook on school and on life has changed drastically; I truly cannot thank you enough.”
– 6th Grade Teacher

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Topics: character, Service learning

Letting Life Get Messy: Lessons from Kindergarten

Posted by Phyllis L. Fagell on Thu, Mar 9, 2017 @ 09:03 AM

A year ago, an eighth grade student came into my counseling office looking stricken. Over the weekend, Lara’s parents had told her they were moving from Maryland to a country in South America. Her father’s global job had taken her to far-flung places before, but she hadn’t seen this move coming. “I thought I’d be going to high school with my friends,” she told me, “not starting all over again. I don’t even speak Spanish!”

I felt for her. Change is hard, especially when it’s foisted on you. I worked with Lara to identify any elements in her control, including her own attitude. She had lived everywhere from Germany to Texas, and we talked about how she had successfully navigated those transitions. We also identified a few positives, including the likelihood she would master a new language.

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Topics: character, integrity, Advisory