What's Happening in Character Education?

Why I Serve: A Student Perspective on Servant Leadership

Posted by Franchesca Ramirez on Thu, Aug 27, 2015 @ 08:08 AM

As a part of Principle 9, shared leadership, we aim to emphasize the crucial role students play in character education initiatives. One way we can value students’ contributions is by providing them the opportunity to share their own thoughts. Franchesca Ramirez, the author of this post, is a member of the Milton Hershey School Class of 2016 and will be a part of the team presenting “The Balance of Values & Accountability” at the 2015 National Forum on Character Education.

We struggle to define a leader by their qualities alone because all leaders are uniquely composed of their own set of skills and traits. 

I have been blessed with my own unique composition over the span of my time at Milton Hershey School. I always had leadership potential, but the ignition of that flame was a result of the time and effort of various adults in my life. Individually, the teachers and advisors in my life at MHS have contributed their own efforts in ultimately making me the leader I am becoming, I will forever be in debt to these people I call mentors for the character they’ve inspired in me. For this reason, I was inspired to serve.

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Topics: Service learning, student voice, Student Leadership

Using Advisory Effectively: A Case Study

Posted by Sarah Novick on Mon, Aug 24, 2015 @ 08:08 AM

By Sarah Novick

Advisory can be a great vehicle to implement character education. 

I recently had the privilege of getting to know students, teachers, teacher-advisors, and administrators involved with revamping an advisory program at San Francisco University High School (SFUHS).

For about 20 years SFUHS had an advisory period in its schedule. When I got to know the school a few years ago, students described advisory “a chill out time,” “a time to eat really good snack,” and a place where they could “hang out with friends.” While this non-academic break during a busy Friday after a stressful week is useful, especially for high achieving, stressed-out students at a rigorous high school, administrators wanted to create the infrastructure to better support students’ character, social, and emotional development. In this post I want to take this opportunity to share some of my insights into their successes as they revised their program. 

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Topics: character education, Relationship Building, Caring Community, Advisory

Leaders Unite Communities

Posted by Emily McGouldrick on Wed, Aug 19, 2015 @ 09:08 AM

As a part of Principle 9, shared leadership, we aim to emphasize the crucial role students play in character education initiatives. One way we can value students’ contributions is by providing them the opportunity to share their own thoughts. The following blog entry is written by Emily McGouldrick, a student at Pryor High School 

From day one we have always been told to share: share our toys, our food, and even our advice. So why not share the gift of being a leader? Some people feel that being leader is being the leader of their own dreams. However, this ideal of leadership couldn’t be more wrong.

To me, leadership is walking side by side and accomplishing something together. Leadership is seeing someone down and lifting them up. Leadership is when something tragic affects a town, but instead of tearing the community apart it brings them together. Leadership is being yourself and encouraging everyone else to find themselves as well. Being a leader is not a quality one should keep to themselves, being a leader should be shared and used to change the world one town at a time.

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Student Leadership for All

Posted by Lisa Stutts on Mon, Aug 17, 2015 @ 09:08 AM

By Lisa Stutts, Special Education Teacher at 2015 National School of Character: Northern Parkway School

Can all students be leaders? How do we empower leadership in our school?

All students can be leaders.

We as educators may need to shift our mindset to believe it. We all can fall into the trap of having our “go to” students; it’s routine and easy for us and we do it without thinking.  Some students may appear as natural leaders, while others need much more training. It is those students we need to make sure we give several opportunities to develop their leadership skills, and as a parallel develop their character. Just as we scaffold and modify classroom work, we can do the same with leadership. We need to trust and empower our students to be leaders at their individual pace.

Teachers need to find creative ways to provide leadership opportunities to all students.

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Topics: leadership, student engagement, Shared Leadership

‘Big Six’ Leader in Civil Rights Movement to Keynote at National Forum on Character

Posted by Calvary Diggs on Thu, Aug 13, 2015 @ 07:08 AM

by Calvary Diggs

It’s a little over fifty years ago, and the United States exists in less vibrant tones and colors. No diversity. No rainbows. The atmosphere operates only on an absolute of black and white.

For one child, he first began to understand the diff

erence– one that he’d later describe as ‘inequality’ and ‘injustice’ – when he was denied access to a local library. He’s black. The library was for whites only.

Years later, the child – not so young and naïve anymore – finds a comic about a man named, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The child sees the similarities. Empathizes. Wants to help make the world a better place.

Many years later, he’s in college and a young man.

He decides to take part in the freedom rides. At twenty-three, he marches and speaks alongside Dr. King – his hero. The young man learns to understand generations of pain and hate while enduring a growing list of arrests and hate crimes. He has to exercise grit and determination at Selma as he’s violently attacked by police. And he shows courage and integrity to this day as a congressman working with the rights of others in mind.

This man is Congressman John Lewis, and we are honored to have him deliver a keynote address at the National Forum on Character Education.

As education professionals involved in character education, we frequently ask, “What does good character like in action?” To answer this question, we actively seek real-life role models and genuine examples. They provide us with the inspiration, ideas, and stamina necessary to lead our youth to becoming productive citizens with strong ethical principles. No one embodies these qualities better than John Lewis.

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Topics: Forum Speakers, National Forum

Character Education—Comprehensive, Intentional and Proactive

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Tue, Aug 11, 2015 @ 08:08 AM

By Becky Sipos 

At Liberty Corner Elementary School (NJ), students know the focus is not only on academics, but also on how they are going to leave the school as a person. That focus apparently is working. Comments from the middle school say that “the Liberty Corner School kids are the most well-rounded, best kids in the building.” Eric Rauschenberger, Liberty Corner guidance counselor, said, “The greatest compliment we get year after year is about the kind of kids we are sending. It makes us feel validated that what we’re doing is sticking.” Kindergarten teacher, Trisha Bubnowski, said, “We’ve gelled as a school community so that when you go out in public and see Liberty Corner School kids, you hear people say character education is what sets us apart.”

How does Liberty Corner achieve these results? A big part of their success is due to principle 3 (of Character.org’s 11 Principles of Effective Character Education): “The school uses a comprehensive, intentional, and proactive approach to character development.” They really work to include character development in everything they do.

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Topics: character education, 11 Principles

Are you a Teacher Leader?

Posted by Rebecca Bauer on Wed, Aug 5, 2015 @ 09:08 AM

Teacher leadership has become a buzzword recently. All teachers lead activities and lessons in their classrooms. Many teachers also lead after school activities and clubs. Some teachers even serve as administrators, too. These days it’s more normal for teachers to have multiple roles in a school than just one.

So what exactly does teacher leadership mean, and more importantly, why should you care?

The NEA defines teacher leadership using 7 domains. This Character Resource Roundup focuses on three of those domains:

  • “Fostering a collaborative culture to support educator development and student learning”

  • “Promoting professional learning for continuous improvement”

  • “Advocating for student learning and the profession”

Fostering a Collaborative Culture

Often the topic of fostering a collaborative culture, especially when it comes to staff culture, is a discussion that is left for the principals and administrative teams. Teacher leaders can and should play an essential role in these efforts. Ask yourself what you are doing to foster a collaborative culture.

  • How do you welcome new staff?

  • How do you support your coworkers?

  • How do you collaborate amongst your grade level team and professional learning communities?

Read The Power of Teacher Networks, a book in which author, Ellen Meyers, “describes teacher networks as a force that breaks teachers out of isolation, improves their practice, advocates for students and schools, and keeps our best teachers teaching.”

Looking for something a little shorter? For a quick introduction read “Fostering Leadership Through Teacher Networks” by Sarah Burns. By strengthening your “Teacher Network” you will improve your teaching practice and hopefully make some new friends too!

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Topics: Advocacy, Character Resource Roundup, Teacher Leadership, Shared Leadership

Fostering Student Leadership - A Character Resource Roundup

Posted by Micah Kenney on Sat, Aug 1, 2015 @ 08:08 AM

During the month of August, the Character.org blog will focus on Principle 9, “The school fosters shared leadership and long-range support of the character education initiative.” One aspect of this principle is the encouragement and inspiration of students to become leaders in their schools and communities.

There are a variety of resources for students and staff to improve leadership and inspire those around them. Many of the resources shown here are versatile resources that can be used by students to learn and practice student leadership or used by faculty to encourage it.

Videos, Articles & Other Helpful Resources

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Topics: Character Resource Roundup

Meet the Character.org Summer Interns

Posted by Character.org Staff on Wed, Jul 1, 2015 @ 11:07 AM

We are so thankful to have three amazing interns helping out at Character.org this summer. Meet our newest friends, Andrés, Calvary & Micah!

Andrés Cordero - Research Intern

Andrés is a Swarthmore College international student majoring in anthropology and education. Originally from Costa Rica but growing up in five different countries, he gained an interest in comparative education.

Andrés took active interest in character pedagogy after taking a political theory course in college that highlighted the relevance of ethics in all human endeavors. He believes that character development is the key to personal growth and what transforms educational settings across the globe into thriving communities. After college, he plans to become a teacher and later intends to get a graduate degree in public policy to eventually partake in Costa Rican politics.

Fun Facts about Andres: he is passionate about Latin America, interested in traveling and enjoys soccer.

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Topics: communications

Character Education Goes to Camp

Posted by Rebecca Bauer on Thu, Jun 25, 2015 @ 12:06 PM

by Rebecca Bauer

As an educational non-profit, we spend most of our time talking about schools, but as summer begins, I want to acknowledge that crucial character development often happens not only outside of the classroom but also outside of the school year.

In my household, camp was always spoken about as a Matt Smith spoke to in his recent blog post, a magical place. My parents met at camp. They returned there to be counselors a few years after. They sent my older brother to that same camp, where he later became a counselor too. When I turned 10, it was my turn.

While some parents might be horrified at the thought of sending their child away for 7 weeks, my parents trusted in the camp and knew it was a safe and caring community. Thinking about this, I realized that the 11 Principles of Character Education seamlessly apply to camp settings. Any principle can be adapted for the camp setting, but for me Principles 2, 4, and 7 stick out when it comes to character growth in my own camp experiences.

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Topics: 11 Principles