What's Happening in Character?

Rebecca Sipos

Recent Posts

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: Sipos Becky ,, graduation, core values

Farewell--The Case for Character goes on

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Thu, Dec 22, 2016 @ 08:12 AM

As I contemplate my retirement at the end of this month, I have been reflecting a lot about Character.org and the state of character today. As an organization, we have much to celebrate. Some notable numbers:

  • Largest group of National Schools of Character in our 2016 class
  • Significant growth in applicants for 2017 from 28 different states, 12 more than last year
  • Most participants ever in our National Forum
  • Highest ratings ever for programming--both at the conference and in recent trainings (more than 90% out rated sessions a 4 or 5 out of 5 )
  • Recent grants and donations are spurring new momentum and innovations. (Look for a redesigned and improved website in 2017.)
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Topics: character, Sipos Becky ,

I Am Grateful.

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Thu, Nov 17, 2016 @ 09:11 AM

I just finished reading Brain on Fire , a powerful memoir of journalist Susannah Cahalan’s descent into madness. It is a gripping personal story as well as a fascinating look at the cutting edge of neuroscience. But one small story in the book really captured my heart--the story of Dr. Souhel Najjar, the doctor who was instrumental in diagnosing Cahalan’s disease. No one else had been able to figure it out. Dr. Najjar was impressive with his heartfelt and sympathetic bedside manner, but it was his backstory that touched me and explained why he had such an affection for the weak and the powerless.
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Topics: Reflection, role models

Every Day is Character Day

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Thu, Sep 29, 2016 @ 12:09 PM

Last week we celebrated Character Day along with 90,000 organizations in 124 countries around the world. It has been exciting to watch the exponential growth of Character Day in just three years. Clearly there is interest in the idea of character and momentum is building.

In Tiffany Schlain’s Character Day movie “The Science of Character,” she inserts this quote that she attributes to Frank Outlaw. “ Watch your thoughts. They become words. Watch your words. They become deeds. Watch your deeds. They become habits. Watch your habits. They become character. Character is everything.”
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Topics: Character Day, character

Character and Academics--How to Integrate

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, Aug 15, 2016 @ 13:08 PM

I’ve been thinking a lot about our focus this month on integrating academics and character education in the classroom. We truly believe they should be intertwined, but sometimes when I go to a school for a site visit evaluation, I observe lessons that seem like were planned just for my visit, as if someone had said, “Be sure to teach a character lesson today.”

I like it best when I get to observe a challenging academic lesson that engages the students and incorporates the natural intersections with character that most content contains. Exploring the ethical issues in science, debating historical decisions, and of course, exploring character traits and ethical dilemmas in literature are obvious choices, but there are ethical considerations in every subject.
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Topics: teachers, character, intrinsic motivation

What Do Kids Really Need to Be Happy and Successful? Empathy.

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Sat, Jul 16, 2016 @ 20:07 PM

Dr. Michele Borba writes in her new book Unselfie, “While we may be producing a smart, self-assured generation of young people, today’s kids are also the most self-centered, saddest and stressed on record.”

According to a University of Michigan Study,

  • Teens today are now 40% lower in empathy levels than 3 decades ago.
  • In the same period narcissism has increased by 58%

And multiple studies have shown there has been a clear increase in peer cruelty.

We need to counteract those trends by teaching empathy. Sometimes considered a “soft” skill, new research featured in Dr. Borba’s book shows that empathy plays a surprising role in predicting kids’ happiness and success. And it’s not an inborn trait, but a quality that must be taught.

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Topics: empathy

Three New Books for your Summer Reading

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, Jun 13, 2016 @ 09:06 AM

Although summer suggests time to devour fun beach reads, I suggest you consider adding one, or all, of the following new books by our upcoming Forum speakers to your reading list.

Michele Borba’s new book—just out this week—UnSelfie, Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World, is fabulous. It’s clearly the work of a lifetime as she includes anecdotes from decades of work in education psychology. I had tears in my eyes before I even finished the introduction. She opens with the story of a dad who after hearing her speak on empathy 10 years ago gave her a picture of his son who had hanged himself after relentless bullying. He said, “If someone had instilled empathy in those boys, my son would be alive today.” 

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President's Column: Teacher Appreciation

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Wed, May 4, 2016 @ 08:05 AM

by Becky Sipos, President & CEO, Character.org

"In a completely rational society the best and brightest of us would aspire to be teachers, and the rest of us would have to settle for something less, because passing on civilization from one generation to the next ought to be the highest honor and the highest responsibility anyone could have." --Lee Iacocca

Teacher Appreciation Week (May 1-7) is a time to reflect on the importance of teachers and how we can best honor and encourage them. As a former high school teacher, I remember the teacher appreciation breakfasts and lunches, the occasional mug or teacher appreciation planner, but not much more.

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Topics: teachers, Teacher Appreciation

Book Review: The End of Average

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Wed, Apr 13, 2016 @ 13:04 PM

Book Review: The End of Average, How We Succeed in a World that Values Sameness by Harvard scientist Todd Rose

By Becky Sipos

You might think a book about the story of “average” would be arcane and uninteresting, but I was hooked from the opening anecdote. The book begins with the story of the Air Force in its early days when planes kept crashing. In fact, 17 planes crashed on a single day. Investigators kept saying “pilot error.” But one researcher kept digging. The cockpits had been designed for the average dimensions of pilots, but researcher Lt. Gilbert Daniels found that out of the 4,063 pilots, none had all the “average measurements,” not one. Even if you took only three of the measurements, less than 3.5 percent of the pilots were “average.” That may not seem significant, but taking a split second longer to reach a control or to make an adjustment to a piece of equipment just slightly out of reach could make the difference between flying or crashing. To their credit, the Air Force took that knowledge and created flexible cockpits—adjustable seat belts, mirrors, helmet straps and foot pedals—things that we take for granted in our vehicles today. The Air Force created a radical plan: to design environments to fit the individual.

Today that concept of individual fit is being applied to medicine as oncologists, neuroscientists, geneticists and more try to design medicine and treatments best suited to match an individual’s DNA. Some successful businesses also have begun to implement these principles. Google found relying on standard measurements did not help them find the creative employees they sought. There is even a new interdisciplinary field of science known as the science of the individual. With the “average” philosophy, we aggregate and then analyze; the science of the individual says analyze and then aggregate

And yet, this mindset is not everywhere. It is not widespread in schools. The age of average persists.  

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Topics: testing, Sipos Rebecca, Book Review

Four Ideas for Boosting Teacher Morale

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Wed, Mar 9, 2016 @ 06:03 AM

by Becky Sipos

Teachers matter. Decades of research and studies have found that, what to me, seems obvious--the quality of teachers has a bigger influence on student achievement than school facilities or curriculum. But what the studies have not clearly defined is what we mean by student achievement. Nor have they figured out what to do about ensuring teacher quality. (See the latest issue of Education Next for a range of articles and commentary on this issue as they explore 50 years since the Coleman Report.)

Those who think student achievement is best measured by test scores are among those who wanted to tie teacher evaluation to student outcomes. Taking it a step further, many wanted to use those tests to eliminate the low performing teachers. That led to hotly contested policy debates on teacher evaluations and protests on time spent on testing. Not to mention that the lowest performing teachers were often those at high poverty schools, and there was not a long line highly effective teachers waiting to take those challenging positions. Those debates may have dissipated a bit with the newly passed Every Student Succeeds Act that reduces the role of the federal government in requiring test score accountability in teacher evaluations. How the states will move forward remains to be seen.

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Topics: teachers, Teacher Appreciation, Caring Community

Creating Digital Citizens: Civic Duty meets the Online Era

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Wed, Feb 10, 2016 @ 11:02 AM

by Becky Sipos

As the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary have dominated the news, I have been thinking more and more about citizenship. Peggy Noonan’s recent column talked about how seriously New Hampshire residents take their responsibility. They even have a state law that requires they host the first primary.

After someone described the people at one event as “professional voters,” Noonan said it was not that. She described the diverse group in attendance and said. “It is more like: ‘We may be a field hospital, we may be high, we may be damaged by the collapse of the American culture, we may be the prime victims of deindustrialization, but we are: citizens. And we do our job. We will pick a president.”

Noonan said, “Choked me up as I witnessed it. No joke. Choked me up.”

That sense of responsibility, of caring about your country and the process of electing a president made me stop and think Are we instilling that feeling in our young people today? Not just the sense of responsibility, but the sense of caring, the sense of taking care of your community, planning for the future.

Thinking about community brought me to thinking about Jason Ohler’s new book that I just read, 4Four Big Ideas for the Future, a compilation of four presentations that he has given. The idea of digital citizenship figures prominently in most of Ohler’s work. What brings these four presentations together is Ohler’s vision of helping people reshape their attitudes toward learning, community, and living a technological lifestyle. Ohler writes: “At the end of the day, we all want a more humane world that honors human potential. We want a world that channels our innately innovative selves toward creating the futures we want, and which can sustain us spiritually, emotionally and physically.”

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Topics: ethical and engaged citizens, Citizenship, Digital Citizenship

How Real World Lessons Lead to Academic Achievement

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Tue, Jan 5, 2016 @ 05:01 AM

by Becky Sipos

When I was a beginning teacher, I was often dismayed how students didn’t improve their writing very much despite my best instruction. When I was “forced into” sponsoring the school newspaper as a job requirement and I began teaching journalism, I was amazed by the writing growth I saw in my students. What made such a difference?

As I began to assess the situation and to figure out what made the difference, a figurative light bulb went off. Students were doing real work for a real audience, and they wanted to do well. Students had a choice in the type of assignments they had. And they were truly responsible for their work. In my typical English class, if they didn’t do their work, they would get a poor grade and I would be upset. But on the newspaper staff, if they didn’t do the work, someone else would have to do it. After all, no newspaper leaves a big blank space that says “so and so didn’t finish his story.” Students who didn’t complete assignments had to deal with the wrath of their classmates. They immediately saw the impact of their failure to meet deadlines.

When the paper was published, they also learned immediately how well they did. If readers liked their stories or photos, they would get praise from teachers and students alike. If they got something wrong, boy, did people let them know. They soon learned emphatically the journalism rule of double checking and having multiple sources. The old journalism adage “If your mother says she loves you, check it out” was not a joke.

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Topics: Academics,, Curriculum Integration

Choosing Your Core Values

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Tue, Dec 8, 2015 @ 11:12 AM

by Becky Sipos

Which is better: honesty or integrity? empathy or compassion?

Of course, it’s a bogus question. Both are good. At first glance, principle one sounds easy “Choose your core values.” But there are so many good qualities out there, how do you choose?  And how long do you stick with your choices? When should you change?

Over the years that I have been evaluating schools for our Schools of Character program, core values seem to follow trends. In 2007 most of the schools had some variation on these: respect, responsibility and honesty. But in recent years, schools have been including values such as empathy, compassion or kindness. Is that because of the times? The Great Kindness Challenge got over 2 million students to perform acts of kindness last year. Did it also influence schools to change their core values?

Do events in the news affect what schools choose? Smith Street School’s whole education program came about because of their environment. “The stakes are so high,” says Dr. Triplett, “Because of the realities outside of our school, many kids in our area are in danger ... good character is, in many cases, a matter of life and death to our kids. They have to make good choices in life -- and we want them and their parents to understand the connection. For this reason, we see these students as OUR children. CE is so, so much deeper here for that reason.” They chose “reflection” as one of their core values as they really want their students to think through their actions.

Schools seem to fit into three categories when it comes to selected core values.

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Topics: president's post, core values

Examining Poverty & Cultivating Empathy: Three Books that Will Expand Your Perspective

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, Nov 9, 2015 @ 13:11 PM

By Becky Sipos

The first is Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers, my book club’s nonfiction selection this month. I thought the horrific stories of life in the slums of Mumbai, India, would be too awful to read, but Boo’s empathetic portrayal really drew me into their lives. I cheered for Abdul, the young garbage sorter, who works hard to get ahead, and was intrigued by Zehrunisa, his mother, whose efforts so often backfired despite her best efforts. As I got to know the complexity of the people, I was appalled by the corruption in society. But even when I felt that some deserved some blame for certain outcomes, I certainly understood and empathized with why they did what they did. I liked that Boo did not just focus on the terrible things. She showed the fun and playfulness of flagpole ring toss, teenage girl tell-all sessions and more. The book gave me a look at an aspect of society I had never really contemplated before. As a former journalism teacher, I read with amazement wondering how she gained the trust of her subjects and got such details of their lives. It also made me think how important it is that she makes us look at something we’d normally not notice. Now that we’re aware, what should we do? The author said in an interview: “If we don’t have all the time in the world to make things perfect, we can still make incremental and meaningful improvements. And seeing what’s wrong—seeing it clearly—seems to me a crucial part of beginning to set it right.”

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Topics: empathy, Book Review, Poverty

President's Column: Bullying Prevention

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Tue, Oct 6, 2015 @ 12:10 PM

By Becky Sipos

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and so I wanted to write my column to fit in with that theme. But I am no bullying expert. I’ve learned a lot about bullying since I’ve been working at Character.org, but for real expertise, you should turn to our own board member expertMichele Borba, or our Education Advisory Council expert, Jonathan Cohen of theNational School Climate Center, or students themselveshttp://www.tolerance.org/blog/expert-opinions-students-speak-about-bullying

In fact, so much has been written about bullying that I fear that the topic doesn’t generate the concern it once did. And all 50 states have now enacted anti-bullying laws, so every school has mandates to do something on bullying. But what works best?

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Topics: bullying prevention

The Power of Partnering with Parents

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Tue, Sep 8, 2015 @ 07:09 AM

by Becky Sipos

Early in my teaching career, I called a parent concerned about her daughter. I’ll never forget her response: “I don’t call you for help with my job, so why are you calling me for help with yours?” I still vividly recall my shock as I had assumed helping her daughter develop into a responsible adult was a shared commitment.

As I gained experience, I realized that for many parents a call from school always meant bad news and was to be avoided. So I shifted my approach and began sending home positive post cards for every student and calling home with something positive about each child in my classes. At Back to School night I asked both moms and dads in attendance to fill out a card telling me something about their child that I probably didn’t know and to share how I might teach them more effectively. Of course, I occasionally still called home to discuss a problem, but the positive approach worked wonders.

I am recalling these memories because Character.org is focusing this month on Principle 10: engaging families and community members as partners. The start of school is always a good time to connect with parents, but it’s not always easy.

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Topics: parent involvement, Community Involvement

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

3 Books All Educators Should Read this Summer

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Thu, Jun 11, 2015 @ 16:06 PM

By Becky Sipos 

Count me among the millions who have watched Ken Robinson’s 2006 Ted Talk on “How Schools Kill Creativity,” (the most viewed in the organization’s history), so when it was time to select books for my summer reading column, I knew one book I would choose was Robinson’s new book

Creative Schools The Grassroots Revolution That's Transforming Education.”

The book is full of inspiring schools and creative educators. Robinson makes a key distinction between teaching and learning and many stories focus on that. I found particularly touching his example about a teacher in Mexico, who taught at a primary school in Matamoros, described as “a destitute town not far from the U.S. border that regularly serves as a backdrop for drug wars.” After several years of traditional teaching with limited success, Sergio Juarez Correa decided to focus on empowering students to learn for themselves. He built his lessons around open-ended questions and encouraged collaboration and conversations.

The transformation was amazing. One girl who lived by a dump and had never done well turned out to be a math prodigy and scored the highest math score ever and was featured on national television. But 10 other students scored in the 99th percentile in math. Not that Correa was impressed by their standardized test scores as he was focused on empowering them to think and do so much more, but the scores showed others the potential that had been ignored among his students.

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Topics: Book Review, Professional Development

A Surprising Move: Traditional End-of-Year Awards Ceremony Scheduled for Fall

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Wed, May 27, 2015 @ 12:05 PM

by Becky Sipos

It’s the time of year when most schools are having award assemblies to celebrate their end-of-year achievements, so I was surprised to learn that Bayless High School, a 2015 National School of Character, decided to move its assembly to the fall. What were they thinking? I called principal Patrick McEvoy to find out.

First, he said the staff realized that they couldn’t really celebrate the whole year because the data often didn’t arrive until the summer. And second semester achievements often weren’t recognized because the semester wasn’t over. Also, the assembly had become a long affair, meaningful for seniors, but perhaps just “something to sit through” for other students. So they kept their celebration for seniors, but moved everyone else to the fall. He said that move has had surprising results.

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Topics: Reflection

Celebrating, Assessing and Setting Goals

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, May 18, 2015 @ 09:05 AM

As the school year draws to a close, it’s time to celebrate successes, reflect on challenges. 

Dr. Thomas Lickona, psychologist and character education expert, has said that if schools wish to make a lasting difference in students’ character, “they need a comprehensive, holistic approach (one where schools) look at themselves through a moral lens and consider how virtually everything that goes on there affects the values and character of students.”

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Topics: assessment

How Almost Losing My Job Led to More Inspired Teaching

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Thu, Apr 9, 2015 @ 12:04 PM

By Becky Sipos

The principal came to my classroom door with the bad news, “Because enrollment has declined for next year, we have to make some cuts, and since you were the last hired, that means we have to let you go.”

Devastating news, but I had heard this story before. In the early days of my teaching career, I had to change schools every two years because of moves thanks to my husband’s military career. I was always the last hired and the first to go when reductions hit. This time, though, there was a catch. The principal added, “But if you agree to sponsor the school newspaper, we can keep you because that is a protected position.”

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Topics: Academics,, student engagement

More Than Community Service: Creating Opportunities for Moral Action

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Thu, Mar 12, 2015 @ 14:03 PM

Do you think you made a good choice?

Did you do the right thing?

These questions are in the school announcements, in the school song. They're everywhere, according to Schools of Character principal Kimmie Etheredge. Does that focus on doing the right thing make a difference?  Etheredge shared this story. "The manager of a store close to the school called to tell about a young child who found a $20 bill and turned it in to the service desk.When the service desk person complimented her on her honesty, the child said, “I’m a Granger Wrangler, and we always do the right thing.”

Doing the right thing is an important focus of principle 5, and the emphasis is on “action.” Students learn best by doing in the ethical domain just as they do in the intellectual domain. While recent blog posts have highlighted service learning projects, moral action can include opportunities in everyday classroom routines: showing respect for peers and adults, helping resolve a conflict, and participating in a cooperative learning activity. Each of these could provide a “teachable moment” for any teacher.

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Topics: Service learning, 11 Principles, Moral Action

Founded on Caring: A Case Study of Sadler Arts Academy

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Fri, Feb 27, 2015 @ 15:02 PM

by Becky Sipos

As we wrap up February’s focus on Principle 4: Creating a caring community, I thought it would be nice to look at a case study, one school that emphasizes caring in everything it does. Although all of our Schools of Character create caring communities, I chose a school that was founded on the very concept of caring: Sadler Arts Academy in Oklahoma, a 2014 National School of Character.

The school is a real example of goodness coming out of bad. In 1996, Sadler Elementary School had the unfortunate distinction of the worst test scores in Muskogee. The community also knew the school’s students as the rowdiest and rudest kids in town.” Rather than struggle to fix the mess, the school closed and reopened as Sadler Arts Academy.

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Topics: Caring Classrooms,, Caring Community

Starting Your Character Education Journey

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Fri, Feb 20, 2015 @ 12:02 PM

By Becky Sipos

For me, the New Year always brings an attitude of fresh start along with a reflection on accomplishments or disappointments of the past year. Pick up any magazine and you can see the imperatives: Lose 10 pounds in two weeks, plan more nutritious meals, get fit in only 15-minutes a day and so on.  

For schools, the imperatives usually revolve around better classroom management, helping low-achieving students to be more successful, getting all faculty onboard with positive school goals, or meeting state and federal testing requirements.

The trouble with most New Year’s resolutions is that the adopters are often looking for a quick fix. Unfortunately, neither losing weight nor transforming school culture is a quick fix, but both are worthy goals.

For educators looking to change their school culture, Character.org’s 11 Principles of Effective Character Education offers guidelines for an effective program. But teachers sometimes think they are designed to be a step-by-step recipe beginning with #1 and progressing through step #11. But really, you can start with any principle. If you are looking to jump start your character education journey this year, here are four suggestions for ways to get started now.

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Topics: character education, 11 Principles

Tired of Testing? Let Your Voice Be Heard

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Fri, Feb 20, 2015 @ 11:02 AM

By Becky Sipos, President & CEO

Last week, two of us from Character.org attended ASCD’s Legislative Advocacy Conference. The conference focused on empowering educators to voice their opinions on education policy, and more specifically the upcoming reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). While ASCD’s legislative agenda has many facets, most of the discussion revolved around the importance of reducing standardized testing and creating multi-metric forms of assessment.

On the final day, we had the opportunity to bring our concerns to a variety of congressmen and congresswomen on Capitol Hill. Throughout the conference, we had discussed the phrase educating students to be “college, career, and citizenship ready.” As I visited my senator and representatives, I kept thinking about that phrase “citizenship ready.” What does that mean exactly?

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Topics: testing, Advocacy

Why Should We Celebrate President's Day?

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Tue, Feb 10, 2015 @ 16:02 PM

 By Becky Sipos, President & CEO

Character.org’s vision is young people everywhere who are educated, inspired and empowered to be ethical and engaged citizens. As Presidents’ Day approaches, I’ve been thinking about the “ethical and engaged citizens” aspect. It’s a part of our mission statement as well. How are we doing?

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Topics: Citizenship, Sipos Becky ,

Annie Fox Addresses Bullying Issues in "Whose Kids Are These Anyway"

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Thu, Jan 22, 2015 @ 14:01 PM

When it comes to bullying prevention, teachers handle concerns from parents, demands from administrators and regulations from their local and federal governments, all while educating a group of 20 or so young students. Rather than simply providing them resources and telling them to solve the problem, it is important to also stress, they are not alone.

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Topics: character education, teachers, bullying, bullying advice, Fox Annie

Starting Your Character Education Journey

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Wed, Jan 14, 2015 @ 11:01 AM


By Becky Sipos

For me, the New Year always brings an attitude of fresh start along with a reflection on accomplishments or disappointments of the past year. Pick up any magazine and you can see the imperatives: Lose 10 pounds in two weeks, plan more nutritious meals, get fit in only 15-minutes a day and so on.  

For schools, the imperatives usually revolve around better classroom management, helping low-achieving students to be more successful, getting all faculty onboard with positive school goals, or meeting state and federal testing requirements.

The trouble with most New Year’s resolutions is that the adopters are often looking for a quick fix. Unfortunately, neither losing weight nor transforming school culture is a quick fix, but both are worthy goals.

For educators looking to change their school culture, Character.org’s 11 Principles of Effective Character Education offers guidelines for an effective program. But teachers sometimes think they are designed to be a step-by-step recipe beginning with #1 and progressing through step #11. But really, you can start with any principle. If you are looking to jump start your character education journey this year, here are four suggestions for ways to get started now.

Read More

Topics: character education, school climate, leadership, what works in education, teacher development

Lessons from a Sidewalk—the Power of Social Norming

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Wed, Jan 7, 2015 @ 16:01 PM

Driving home from work last week, I heard a snippet of a conversation on NPR between author Daniel Pink and Kojo Nnamdi. They were discussing the recent National Geographic show “Crowd Control” that debuted on Nov. 24. While I haven’t seen the show, it sounded interesting.  The show explored some experiments with crowd control, focusing on pedestrian safety.

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Ferguson—How do you teach when hearts are hurting?

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Wed, Nov 26, 2014 @ 16:11 PM

While the world is watching Ferguson, disturbed by the violence, disturbed by the grand jury’s ruling, disturbed by the very disparate responses that all seem to be colored by race, I was brought back to my teaching roots and empathized with all of the classroom teachers struggling with how to deal with this issue.

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Topics: character, character education, teachers, Ferguson

Announcing our New Director of Communications, Tucker Wannamaker

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Fri, Sep 26, 2014 @ 13:09 PM

Today, I along with the Character Education Partnership's staff and board of directors would like to formally welcome Tucker Wannamaker to our team as the new Director of Communications.

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Topics: Tucker Wannamaker, communications, new hire

How Are Social-Emotional Learning and the Common Core Connected?

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Fri, Jan 17, 2014 @ 10:01 AM

By Maurice Elias, Professor, Rutgers University Psychology Department

In September, 2013, the Education Advisory Council of the Character Education Partnership published a white paper titled, "Integrating Common Core and Character Education: Why It Is Essential and How It Can Be Done." Kristin Fink and Karen Geller, acclaimed educators both, co-chaired the process and I asked them to comment on some of the key points:

Maurice Elias: In your view, what is the major shortcoming of the Common Core standards as they are presently being put forward?

Karen Fink: The standards do not explicitly address the quality of the learning environment or the culture of respect, responsibility, and excellence that must be in place for optimal student learning. Every student needs to feel that the school has a deep commitment to preserving his or her safety, worth and dignity. The school community must have as a standard genuine, caring relationships between and among students, teachers, parents, and staff. The standards also lack a specific focus on teaching moral and performance character, and the social-emotional skills that help students develop the stamina and self-discipline to grapple with more rigorous curriculum to truly become college, career, and civic ready.

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Topics: character education, common core standards, social-emotional learning, Elias Maurice

What is Character Education?

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, Dec 30, 2013 @ 12:12 PM

Fourth in a series by student teacher Rebecca Bauer who graduated from a National School of Character and wants to make sure that as a teacher she includes character education.

After completing my student teaching, I find myself asking the question that I probably should have started with. What is Character Education and what does it mean to have a Character Education program? Some of the confusion about character education seems to be due to the presence of many different names for the same practices. I have encountered many professors who have never heard of character education but strongly encourage teaching with “a culture of care,” without understanding the enormous overlap. I have met teachers who implement the Responsive Classroom approach, without knowing that in the process, they, too, are incorporating some of the elements of character education. Schools can always teach more character education and there is always more work to be done, but one way to convince people that character education is worth teaching, is by showing them they are already teaching it.

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Topics: character education, student teaching, Bauer Rebecca

A Mid-Year Reflection for Teachers and Students

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Wed, Dec 11, 2013 @ 12:12 PM

By Maurice Elias

As we edge towards the end of the calendar year and the first half of the school year, we can benefit from taking stock of what has happened thus far and also, put aside regretful events or actions that might hold us back from a good start in the new year. I have explored these aspects of reflection with staff members, and my dear colleague, Rachael Kessler, of blessed memory, used it with students.

Here is a reflection activity for school leaders to facilitate with faculty, and one for teachers to use with students in secondary schools:

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Topics: character education in high school, social-emotional learning, teacher development, middle school development

Time for Character Education

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, Nov 25, 2013 @ 10:11 AM

Third in a series by student teacher Rebecca Bauer. She graduated from a National School of Character and wants to make sure that as a teacher she includes character education, but she is finding it challenging.

Even at an elementary school as great as the one that I was working at, I still felt the need to “sneak in” character education. The classroom environment encouraged respect and responsibility, but another part of the character education equation, critical thought and discussion, was missing.  Despite believing deeply in the importance of character education, I felt uncomfortable making time to devote entire lessons to it, especially in a classroom that I was only borrowing for a couple months. While I have read and will continue to read ways to incorporate character education into the common core standards requirements, as a student teacher trying to get by, my survival strategy turned into simply sprinkling in character education wherever I could.

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Topics: character education, character education in curriculum, teachable moments, student teaching, Bauer Rebecca

A Call to All Social-Emotional Learning Leaders

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, Nov 18, 2013 @ 08:11 AM

By Maurice Elias,Professor, Rutgers University Psychology Department and Edutopia Blogger

It's time for the leaders of the social-emotional learning (SEL) and character education fields to jump in the sandbox together and create a set of common guidelines for implementation in schools.  This is a variation of the "Manhattan Project" called for years ago by Tim Shriver, a founder of CASEL.

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Topics: character education, leadership, social-emotional learning, Elias Maurice

Q. What can schools do to keep students safe?

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, Nov 4, 2013 @ 20:11 PM

From the 2013 NSOC magazine: Edited by Joseph Mazzola with permission of the authors

In the wake of too many school shooting tragedies, we at CEP know that educators and parents in every school community are looking for solutions that work, so we posed this question to several national experts, and here is what they had to say.

A. From studying thousands of schools, we know that many students feel very unsafe.
We also know that educators and parents underestimate how unsafe the students feel. There are many experiences—individual, interpersonal, and organizationally—that can contribute to students feeling and/or being unsafe. And there is not a simple or single solution to this very complex problem. Short term curriculum and programs do not typically make a difference. However, there are some school-wide processes, as well as teaching strategies and one-on-one methods, which can lead to students feeling and being safer in schools. Here are some that align perfectly with CEP’s Eleven Principles of Effective Character Education and our Center’s school climate reform efforts.

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Topics: community of character, school climate, school safety, school shootings

Rules and Incentives

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, Oct 28, 2013 @ 08:10 AM

Second in a series by Rebecca Bauer, a graduate of a School of Character, who is now chronicling her student teacher experience.

Like most classrooms, we spent a good deal of time the first week discussing rules. We brainstormed a list together. The lead teacher wrote up a consolidated version and then every student signed it. We asked each student to choose the rule they thought was most important and to write a sentence about why it was important. One student did not finish in time and took his work out with him to complete it during recess. The boy decided that the most important rule was to listen.

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Topics: character education, student teaching, intrinsic motivation, PBIS

Literature as a Path to Good Character and Better Decisions

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Thu, Oct 10, 2013 @ 04:10 AM

By Stephen Ellenwood

Good literature can help us understand both a range of nuances regarding key virtues such as kindness, persistence, or honesty and the complexities of how to answer questions that require, for example, both kindness and honesty. This approach is based in part on Jessamyn West’s wise counsel, “Fiction reveals truths that reality obscures.”

Good stories with believable characters and situations help students understand the fine points of both language and character. These stories also focus on how students create and become a member of a caring community. 

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Topics: character education, what works in education, character education in curriculum, Character Ed Infused in Curriculum, social responsibility

A Virtues-Based Community: More than just a Dream

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, Oct 7, 2013 @ 07:10 AM

By Dr. Raquel Castrodad
“If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it.” – William Arthur Ward

The quote from what is a brilliant ad slogan, “Just Do it!,” should be the guiding light and starting point of this voyage towards achieving a virtues-based community. It was for us. We are just a rural school in the middle of a little island, but we had big dreams (and now have even bigger dreams). Stephen Butler Leacock may have said it best when he said, “It may be that those who do most, dream most.”

The attainment of a virtues-based community requires a vision, a plan, the will, and the courage to act. The vision begins. As the possibilities are explored, the vision expands. The journey has begun. It truly is as simple as that! “Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream, so shall you become. Your vision is the promise of what you shall one day be; your ideal is the prophecy of what you shall at last unveil.” said James Allen.

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Topics: character, character education, National School of Character, character education in curriculum, National Forum, community of character, school climate, CEPForum13, virtues

Adventures in Student Teaching: My First Day at School (Take One & Two)

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Thu, Oct 3, 2013 @ 08:10 AM

First in a series--how a new student teacher tries to implement character education based on her experience attending a National School of Character before entering college.

With nervous energy and excitement, I arrived at the elementary school where I planned to begin my student teaching. It was superintendent’s conference day, and I was taking the opportunity to get a lay of the land. I walked into the second grade classroom and I could not find it. The heart of an elementary school classroom, it was missing. There wasn’t a carpet or a rug, or even a patch of open floor where the students could congregate around an easel or board. There were only desks. They were laid out in a U shape, with two rows in the center. I couldn’t imagine an effective way to facilitate discussion in this set up. Perhaps I was overly critical, after my professor had assigned us to read McKenna’s “Uncovering the Lessons of Classroom Furniture,” but I couldn’t shake the feeling that building a sense of community in this business-like room would be quite difficult.

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Topics: character, character education, student voice, teachers, school climate, student teaching

The OCHO Project: Read for a Need--Teaching Children to Help Others

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Sun, Sep 29, 2013 @ 19:09 PM

By Marilyn Perlyn

The OCHO Project: Read for a Need(Opportunities for Children to Help Others) exposes children to the joys of reading while teaching them that they can help others less fortunate than themselves. It is an elementary school program in which students embark on a 6-8 week literacy journey that is infused with eighteen character traits and service learning.

Children are asked several months later if they would like to share a book with another child in a different part of the world. Each year, donated books are brought to a different country by Marilyn Perlyn, founder of the OCHO Project. Books have already been donated to kids in need in Tanzania, India, Vietnam, Laos, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Kenya, and Namibia. In 2014 we will visit China!

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Topics: character education, key lessons, what works in education, Service learning, character education in curriculum, National Forum, international education, CEPForum13, Perlyn Maryilyn

Taking Your School from Good to Great

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Tue, Sep 24, 2013 @ 09:09 AM

Character education is often misunderstood. It is more than a word of the month or an assembly to honor students with good character. It exceeds catching students being good and helping those who are less fortunate. Character education is not a program, but a philosophy about how we ought to treat one another and why. 

The fundamental lessons in relationship building and character development need to begin with the staff, not the students. Once relationships among the staff are nourished, trust evolves and true understanding and implementation of character education can begin. 

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Topics: character, character education, National School of Character, what works in education, teachers, community of character, CEPForum13

Character Is Our Super Power

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Sun, Sep 22, 2013 @ 14:09 PM

 by Barbara Gruener

Is anyone out there as excited about the upcoming CEP National Forum as I am? One of my very favorite things about October is the chance to connect with other character educators from around the US and beyond its borders. It’s been an annual booster shot for me since I first attended when the Conference was held in Houston back in 2004.

Our school, Westwood Elementary, was selected the inaugural Texas State School of Character in 2007 and then honored with the National School of Character distinction in 2009. What an invigorating time that was for our school family. But we didn’t stay atop that mountain for long. Shortly after our celebration, budget cuts meant we’d be merging with the 4th and 5th grade campus next door; we are now navigating a new normal as a preK-5 school family.

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Topics: character, character education, National School of Character, character education in curriculum, National Forum, empathy, social-emotional learning

Powerful Analogies From Nature that Build Character

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Fri, Sep 20, 2013 @ 14:09 PM

by Barbara A. Lewis

Do you want to know something so strong that it survived the atomic explosion on Hiroshima? Might you guess a 400-pound gorilla that can hoist up 10 times its body weight?

Or how about Iron Man or the Hulk (not fair—they’re not real)?  Or what about the annoying cockroach?  Well, you would be right about the cockroach (which gives you a clue as to why they’re so hard to expel from your house). 

But you might not have considered bamboo. Surprise! Bamboo has more tensile strength than steel.  Knowing this, you might choose to build your next home with bamboo, because it could withstand 9.0 magnitude earthquake and last for hundreds of years. (You might want a new house before then though.)

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Topics: key lessons, character, character education, character education in curriculum, National Forum, CEPForum13, Character Ed Infused in Curriculum, empathy

Using Assessment for Sustainability and Impact in Character Education

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Fri, Sep 6, 2013 @ 12:09 PM

By Matt Davidson

I have been an advocate for and practitioner of assessment in the field of character education for nearly 20 years. Much has changed in education over that time period. In particular, the importance of using data to guide practice has grown significantly. In the field of character education much of the early practice in the field was primarily driven by intuition and conviction—that is, by a general belief in the importance of positive character values, strong school culture, and a safe and engaging climate. Intuition and conviction aren’t in and of themselves wrong or misguided. However, the science of character and culture has evolved considerably and best practice in the field is now guided by both the art and science education.

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Topics: character education, character education in curriculum, assessment, assessment and character education

The 8 C’s of Character

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Fri, Jun 21, 2013 @ 12:06 PM


By Ed DeRoche

There are only two C’s in “character,” but one can find many words that begin with C in describing good, positive character traits and behaviors. I’ve compiled a few C words that show the attributes of character.

1. Caring: Two important synonyms are “compassion” and “empathy.” Robert Krzaric wrote in The Greater Good’s e-newsletter that caring-empathy is one’s “ability to step into another person’s shoes, aiming to understand their feelings and perspectives, and to use that understanding to guide our actions.” Most importantly, he notes that new research suggests that caring-empathy is “a habit we can cultivate.”

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Topics: character, character education, integrity, moral character

It really is a 'Grand Old Flag'

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Fri, Jun 14, 2013 @ 08:06 AM

By Joe Mazzola

Today is Flag Day-- at time to remember our nation's freedoms and core values. I try to do that regularly.

On Memorial Day, I attended a special ceremony at a small cemetery in the town that I now call home.  It was one of the most touching ceremonies
I’ve ever attended. I felt like I had gone back in time to what I picture as “small town America.” 

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Topics: character, community of character, core values, patriotism

Can You Create 'Quality Time'?

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Tue, Jun 11, 2013 @ 13:06 PM

By Carey Casey 

Leading up to Father’s Day, there’s a national campaign to remind fathers of the important role they play in their children’s lives. It uses a common phrase for its slogan: quality time.

I endorse this, because we need dads embracing their roles, spending time with their kids, and making memories together. And time is one of the most important, basic commitments that a father makes. Quality time with your kids is a great goal.

At the same time, I hope that term doesn’t give you the wrong idea as a dad ...

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Topics: character, parent involvement, family, role models

Summer Reading—for Pleasure and for Professional Development

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Wed, Jun 5, 2013 @ 14:06 PM

Four ‘Character’ Books to Explore

By Becky Sipos, Chief Operating Officer

When I was a teacher, I always looked forward to catching up on the pleasures of reading during summer vacation. I accumulated a big stack of beach reading and fun novels, but I also always took time to read some education books to improve my teaching and recharge my classroom practices.

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Topics: Character Education News, character, bullying advice

Remembering Sandy McDonnell's Commitment to Character Education

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, Oct 8, 2012 @ 10:10 AM

The world lost a great leader when CEP's co-founder and Chairman Emeritus Sanford N. McDonnell passed away in March. The overwhelming outpour of emotions from those who knew him and whose lives he had touched inspired CEP to archive the sentiments and prepare a book of memories for the McDonnell family. Our Vice President, Joe Mazzola, shared his thoughts in a blog post shortly after Sandy's passing.

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Topics: CEPLeaders, Character Education News, key lessons, role models

Preventing Bullying—a Teacher’s Perspective

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Thu, Mar 29, 2012 @ 17:03 PM

The movie Bully opens tomorrow in select theaters. You no doubt have seen many of the stories about the film as it has received widespread news coverage, in addition to on social media platforms like Twitter (#BullyMovie and @BullyMovie). I saw the movie last year at a prerelease screening at the U.S. Dept. of Ed. It’s a powerful film designed to show what being bullied is really like for some kids. Of course, I was very saddened by the terrible stories of the kids being bullied, but as a former teacher, I was more alarmed at the behavior of the authority figures in the film—behaviors familiar to any teacher or administrator. Director Lee Hirsh says that the question of how to respond appropriately to bullying is at the heart of the film.

How should teachers and administrators handle bullying? I was reminded of a courageous film sent to us a few years ago by Fox High School in Arnold, MO. The video is a powerful demonstration of how teachers can sometimes act like bullies without even realizing it instead of preventing bullying. Watch the film below and ask yourself if you are a bully or a teacher.

I contacted Fox High School to see what changes may have come about since they made this film. Assistant Principal Gina Buehner said that initially the school did a lot, and many have changed as a result of the process.

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Topics: bullying advice, teachers

Where Gardens Grow Character

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Fri, Sep 9, 2011 @ 17:09 PM

We believe gardening in schools is a necessity.

Most of us probably know that school gardens are a great teaching tool that can be used to enrich curriculum and improve physical health, but we believe in gardens as a way to grow character.  We see this everyday in our garden.

We see children sharing, working hard, and being kind. We watch kids grow responsibility as well as vegetables. We see kids engaged, excited, motivated, and proud of their school.  We watch as kids make connections between their school, their community, and the planet.

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Topics: National School of Character, Forum Speakers, character education in curriculum

Start the School Year Off Right

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Tue, Aug 23, 2011 @ 17:08 PM

A focus on the whole child and each child's moral and social development pervades the program at Beauvoir the National Cathedral Elementary School, a 2011 National School of Character. The school invests a great deal of time and resources into the "social curriculum," which is seen as being just as important as, and even part of, the academic curriculum.

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Topics: National School of Character, character education in curriculum, student voice

The Power of Revisions, Part II

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, Aug 15, 2011 @ 17:08 PM

by Mark Schumacker, Beavercreek Schools teacher

As most teachers do, I always look at what I am doing and analyze the success of my work.  I want to make sure I am doing the best I can and if I am not, I want to figure out what can I do to improve my product.  The work ethic, drive, passion, effort, and academic achievement of my students are the means to my analysis.  The revision policy, as well as our goal system, has allowed many of my students to achieve success more aligned with their actual ability (and beyond in some cases).  This has been a true joy to personally witness.

An area I have struggled with since my first year teaching, is motivating the kids that seem to not care.  Every year I have a group of kids who refuse to work for me, accept failure, and seem rather apathetic towards turning this vicious cycle around.  And every year I bust my tail trying to motivate these kids.  I contact their parents, I offer help, I give second and third chances, but by the second semester I am ready to give up.  Have you been here before?  Can you relate?  We don't want to give up, but we feel as if we have given so much and received little effort in return.  It is frustrating.  We begin to worry about the other 110 kids in the classroom who ARE willing to work.  Have we now neglected them?

I have tried everything!  Have you ever said that?  Did yo

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Topics: character education in curriculum, character education in high school

Attending the Department of Education's Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools annual conference

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Thu, Aug 11, 2011 @ 17:08 PM

Federal education conference emphasizes the importance of school climate

by Lara Maupin, Director SSOC/NSOC

Joe Mazzola and I attended the Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools annual conference this week. We were quite pleased to see the Department’s emphasis on how school climate can enhance the conditions for learning reflected in the selection of keynote speakers and workshops. Researchers and practitioners shared how improving school climate can improve academic achievement and reduce bullying.

We were especially thrilled that the Department asked dynamic principal Kristen Pelster of Ridgewood Middle School in Missouri to be the kickoff keynote speaker. Kristen told her school’s powerful story of transformation from the worst school in the district to National School of Character. How did they do it? Character education! By holding kids to high expectations and giving them the support they needed to meet those expectations, Ridgewood culture began to change. Over time, Kristen was able to empower her teachers and students. Without changing anything about how they taught academics, Ridgewood students improved academically. Of course, this is a story we know well at CEP. We see it repeated time and time again in our

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Topics: Character Education News, character education in curriculum, Office of Safe and Drug Free schools, school climate

Save our Schools March in Washington

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Sun, Jul 31, 2011 @ 17:07 PM

Yesterday more than 5,000 teachers and supporters gathered on the Ellipse for the Save Our Schools  rally and march to the White House. I decided to attend along with my son, his wife and her parents, who came down from New York City to show support. Quite frankly, I thought there'd be an even bigger crowd, but I'm sure the nearly 100-degree heat deterred many. Nevertheless, it was an enthusiastic group, and  we heard some excellent speeches.

I was struck by Linda Darling Hammond's statistics--we have 5% of the world's population, but 25% of its prison inmates. She compared how little we spend per pupil for education t

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Topics: testing, character education in curriculum, student voice, teachers

Service doesn't end with the school year!

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, Jul 18, 2011 @ 17:07 PM

By Megan Jones, Senior Administrator at CEP

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Topics: Character Education News

Creating "a culture of integrity" in Atlanta Public Schools

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Fri, Jul 8, 2011 @ 17:07 PM

It’s comforting to see something good come out of something bad.  There’s not much more scorn that can be heaped upon the Atlanta Public Schools after the cheating debacle that surfaced this week in the news, shedding light on a scandal involving educators, administrators, standardized test scores, shocking lapses in morals, and examples set for our nations’ students that will take years of effort to undo.  But yesterday’s revelations are a huge step in the right direction. 

According to Interim Superintendent Erroll B. Davis Jr., Atlanta Public Schools will work toward achieving “a culture of integrity” as well as a “more open and transparent culture” among its schools, administrators, and teachers.  Too little, too late?  Certainly not. It’s a monumental step in the right direction, and CEP would like to offer information and resources

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Topics: character education, character education in curriculum, community of character

Pulling up bootstraps

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Tue, Jun 28, 2011 @ 17:06 PM

We’ve recently posted some great news articles on our Facebook page from around the country about communities that inject valuable character education into the local sports scenes.  The Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy Leadership and Character Development Camp in Vero Beach, Florida emphasizes character education at their summer camp.  Midnight Basketball in Taylor, Texas is more informal, yet is a well-known gathering place for teens to play in a pick-up game at night and benefit from the wisdom and values shared by local mentors and leaders. 

On a similar note, this year’s Promising Practices winners include schools like Gallup Hill Elementary in Ledyard Connecticut and South Grafton Elementary in South Grafton, Massachusetts whose P.E. teachers have helped to transform the recess period into constructive game time using character education and organized athletic activity. Their actions have greatly diminished playground shenanigans and bullying and encouraged cooperative play and teamwork.

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Topics: bullying advice, character education in curriculum, resiliency

Graduation Wisdom

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, Jun 13, 2011 @ 17:06 PM

June is a great time to evaluate the things that really matter in life. With school years ending across the country and the great weather kicking into high gear (already turning into overly hot, humid days here in Washington, DC), we all begin to take a look at the Class of 2011. Graduates at all levels are being recognized for their hard work and accomplishments as they embark down future paths that are at the same time invigorating and uncertain.

It is interesting, therefore, to study the words that are spoken on these historic occasions. What messages come across? What themes can we promote to future graduates? You will be hard pressed to find a graduation speech that extols the wisdom of achieving fame and wealth. Despite America’s ambitious and capitalistic nature, when it comes down to these defining moments in our lives, we stop to think about the qualities of life that really matter—things like being kind to others, respecting and valuing different opinions, being open to new experiences throughout your life—in general finding a way forward on the path to happiness.

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Topics: leadership, core values, graduation

International Comparisons

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Tue, Jun 7, 2011 @ 17:06 PM

We’ve all been hearing about great educational systems of nations such as Finland and Japan. If you haven’t yet seen “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants,” unveiled recently at an event attended by Secretary Duncan, John Merrow’s blog post provides a succinct summary of insights and a link to the report itself.

It’s worth taking a look at what these countries are doing to see if we can learn from them. If these countries don’t debate school choice, teacher accountability, or high-stakes testing, why do we? Will all of our interventions and measurements really make our students achieve more? Perhaps Merrow is right to point to our divergent state policies and lack of support or respect for teachers as weak areas of our educational system.

Even so, that leaves us with the question, “What do we focus on right now?”

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Topics: Education News, National School of Character, leadership, community of character, school climate, international education, parent involvement

Assessing the Challenge Index

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Wed, May 25, 2011 @ 17:05 PM

Once again Jay Mathews, a reporter for the Washington Post, has released his Challenge Index, the ranking of high schools determined by calculating the number of college level tests taken in a given year divided by the number of graduating seniors.

I was happy to see that McLean High School (where I taught before retiring from teaching and coming to work for CEP) was ranked 13th on the list of schools in the Washington, DC area. It was the highest ranked school in Fairfax County Public School District, a fact that I’m sure made the folks on the McLean faculty proud—especially since they were also ranked high in the national list of the top 200 high schools.  I’m sure there is lots of celebrating going on in schools all over who consider themselves to be among the best high schools in America because they made the list.

But is that legitimate? I agree with Mathews on the need to offer challenging courses to anyone who wants to try. As a former Advanced Placement English teacher, I’ve seen kids who had never taken an advanced class before rise to the challenge in my class. Even if they didn’t pass the test, the introduction to the advanced curriculum and the struggle to learn pays dividends in college, which is what Mathews has found through his research. But being a good school requires so much more than that.

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Topics: testing, Education News, National School of Character, character education in high school, challenge index

The Expenses of Prom

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, May 16, 2011 @ 17:05 PM

Prom, a night intended to be full of fun and revelry, can often be an enormous burden on students from lower-income backgrounds. The need to get the perfect dress or tuxedo, find transportation, partake of a fancy meal, and then perhaps coordinate an after-party (in a safe, legal environment) can be a truly stressful experience for those students.

For this reason, it is always heart-warming to hear about schools or programs that have taken it on themselves to make prom night an option for all who want to attend by alleviating some of the financial considerations surrounding the event.

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Topics: Service learning, student voice, character education in high school

Ways to Celebrate Our Teachers

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Tue, May 3, 2011 @ 17:05 PM

Today is National Teacher Appreciation Day. What is your school doing to honor the hard work of its teachers? While some schools stretch out their celebrations throughout the full length of Teacher Appreciation Week with breakfasts and other recognition activities, other schools seem to let the day pass without any acknowledgment of any kind. Just take a look at some of the comments here (May 1st post) and here (May 1st post).

If you could come up with your own way to acknowledge the hard work of all of our teachers, school leaders, and the faculty and staff as a whole, what would you do?

Here's one idea that was recognized as a 2010 Promising Practice.

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Topics: character education, leadership, teachers, community of character, school climate, core values

Funding Ideas for Attending the National Forum

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Fri, Apr 29, 2011 @ 17:04 PM

It's that time of year again! Our first official invitation emails went out yesterday , signaling that registration for the 18th National Forum on Character Education is now open! (If you haven't received yours yet, let us know and we'll make sure you're in our system.)

We've already begun to hear about excited attendees and speakers who are low on funds for the conference. It certainly is a great expense, when you add up the registration fees, hotel costs, flights, and any other expenses that come to mind. We know what it's like, being a nonprofit ourselves in these challenging time. Know that we are constantly working to find funding opportunities for you. Our Director of Resource Development is as we speak trying to secure funds we can reserve for scholarship money for our wonderful attendees out there, and we will be sure to let you know as soon as funds do become available throughout this registration cycle.

In the meantime, what options are out there for finding funding on your own? Many schools have pulled travel and conference funding as budgets are being slashed across the nation. One of our breakout session speakers initially applied after confirming that funds were available to travel, but has since heard that none of those funds will actually be available. So it becomes vitally important to explore all possible options to find other sources.

Here are some ideas that can help get that process started, many of which have been successful endeavors by previous conference attendees.

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Topics: character education, National Forum

Earth Day Activities

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Fri, Apr 22, 2011 @ 17:04 PM

In honor of Earth Day today, April 22nd, here are some highlights from our resources related to the environment, science, and "going green." When you have a chance, be sure to check out the rest of the lesson plans and best practices provided by our wonderful exemplary schools.

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Topics: Service learning, character education in curriculum

Challenge All Students to Seek Mastery over Performance

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Fri, Apr 15, 2011 @ 17:04 PM

By Peggy Lobello, 4th Grade Teacher
Orrs Elementary, Griffin, GA

Students come to us in all shapes and sizes. They come in all abilities as well. It is an ongoing task charged to educators to find ways to challenge students at all levels of ability. Teachers at Orrs Elementary School work together to provide meaningful learning experiences at all level of mastery.

Lessons based on choice menus by interest or learning style is one way to challenge students. Another way to challenge students is to provide differentiated lessons to meet the needs of all learners. Teacher-led small groups in reading or math can provide challenging opportunities with teacher direction.

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Topics: Character Education News, National School of Character, character education in curriculum

Upgrading the Website

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Tue, Apr 12, 2011 @ 17:04 PM

CEP is in the beginning stages of re-designing our website on a grand scale. We received a grant from the John Templeton Foundation to aid us in making this essential upgrade. As we advance in this process, we hope to provide you with updates and details on our plans, as well as highlight some of our new resources and designs. Throughout this time, we would be happy to hear any feedback or suggestions you might have. We want this new website to be a well-designed and easy-to-use resource for all of our constituents.

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Bowls for Hunger

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, Mar 14, 2011 @ 18:03 PM

CEP's March focus is Principle 5: Providing Opportunities for Moral Action. The following service learning idea was submitted by Tina Sohn, Art Teacher & District Character Leader, Sullivan Primary School a 2010 Nationa School of Character, Sullivan, Missouri . We'd love to hear what your school is doing.

Sullivan Primary School (pre-K through first grade) weaves character into every facet of their day. At such an early age, students are given many opportunities to apply values in everyday discussions and play.

One project that started as a small building service project grew to a district-wide project that now includes every campus in the school district, community businesses, citizens, parents, children, and school staff. The “Bowls for Hunger “soup supper night brings all stakeholders together for an exciting night with donations of goods and services as well as building relationships.

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Topics: character education, Character Education News, National School of Character, Service learning, character education in curriculum, Character Ed Infused in Curriculum, student voice

History of Julian - Youth Service Project

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, Mar 14, 2011 @ 17:03 PM

Nancy Younce submitted this story of one of Julian Elementary School's service projects.

The students at Julian Elementary School, a have been focusing on showcasing their Service Learning Projects each year on Global Youth Service Day.  This has made the projects more meaningful to them, with guidance and instruction for high quality service learning.

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Topics: National School of Character, Service learning, character education in curriculum

Building a Caring Community

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Sun, Feb 13, 2011 @ 18:02 PM

This post was written by Jessica Skinner, School Counselor at Lake Carolina Elementary School in Blythewood, South Carolina

Building a caring learning community goes beyond the four walls of a classroom.  At Lake Carolina Elementary, the faculty and staff have been deliberate in their approach to developing a caring community since the school opened in 2002.  We have worked to foster authentic relationships among students, faculty, families, and other members of our surrounding neighborhoods. We acknowledge that each of these stakeholders is an essential part.

As a team of educators, we realize that in order to build a strong school community, it is imperative to invest in each other as colleagues.  Teachers participate in professional workshops and outside-of-school activities to cultivate genuine relationships with each other and develop the faculty into a cohesive team. What we learn as professionals is then transferred into individual classroom communities by incorporating strategies such as daily morning meetings and end of day closure gatherings that give students the opportunity to connect with one another.

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Topics: CEPLeaders, character education, Character Education News, National School of Character, character education in curriculum, community of character

Bullying in Schools: A Strategic Solution

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, Jan 24, 2011 @ 18:01 PM

Written by Joseph W. Mazzola President & CEO Character Education Partnership

Bullying in our nation’s schools is rampant.

Consider the following data points from the 2010 Federal Bullying Prevention Summit: every day, 160,000 students stay home out of fear of getting bullied at school; 1 in 3 students will be bullied this year (about 18M young people); 75-80% of all students observe bullying; and, depending on definition, 15-35% of students are victims of cyber-bullying.

Fortunately, our elected officials and others are now taking bold action. To their credit, for example, 43 states have passed anti-bullying legislation. 

I had the honor of representing CEP at the Summit. The key takeaways were: (1) bullying in schools is widespread; (2) the ramifications are very serious; (3) we need to learn more through research; (4) several government agencies are truly committed to taking this issue on; (5) policies and definitions need attention and clarity; (6) there are 67 programs that claim to combat bullying; (7) none of them has been shown to be effective through research; and (8) there is no simple, silver bullet solution.

As with all complex and chronic problems in our schools, narrowly focused intervention strategies typically fail to make a lasting impact. Zero tolerance policies, hallway posters and such all sound very good in theory. There is no doubt that they are also implemented by well-meaning people who really do want to make things better. However, according to many experts, such measures are shallow in nature and thus fail to achieve their intended purpose, especially over the long haul.

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Topics: bullying advice, character education, National School of Character, character education in curriculum, school climate, discipline

Engage families, communities in character-building

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Wed, Oct 6, 2010 @ 18:10 PM

The following post was written by Barbara Gruener, Westwood Elementary Counselor and Lynn Hobratschk, Westwood Elementary Principal. Gruener will be presenting at the 17th National Forum on Character Education.

In a town settled by Quakers, otherwise known as Friends, Principle 10 wasn’t too difficult to sell. A small bedroom community outside of Houston, Friendswood was founded with core values in mind. But knowing about character and putting character into action are two different things, so in 1987 a group of 120 concerned citizens gathered to decide which values would be important to focus on for the students and families in the Friendswood Independent School District. And so our character education initiative began.

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Topics: CEPLeaders, character education, Character Education News, National School of Character, National Forum, community of character, CEPForum10

NSOC Outreach

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Tue, Sep 14, 2010 @ 18:09 PM

National Schools of Character (NSOC) winners are asked to do outreach to educators in surrounding schools. Below is an email highlighting the fruits of such outreach. Thanks to Barb Gruener at 2009 NSOC winner Westwood Elementary School in Friendswood, TX for spreading character ed!

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Topics: Character Education News

I Believe in Me!

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, Sep 13, 2010 @ 18:09 PM

The following is a post from one of our Forum presenters, Sue Lee, the creator of “I Believe in Me!” a 2009 Parents’ Choice Award Winner.

If you’re reading this blog, I hope you will be in attendance at the National Forum on Character Education in San Francisco Oct 28th – 30th. Like me, you are probably very excited that character education is gaining in the educational priority lineup!

I happen to be a forum breakout speaker, my name is Sue Lee and I’m presenting Friday the 29th 2:30-3:45pm. My topic is: Thriving – The Power of Positive Emotional Development. The National Scientific Council On The Developing Child out of Harvard, states, “That emotional intelligence is hardwired into the very architecture of the brain.” As a nation and as educators we must become aware of the significance of that in regards to character education. I will be addressing that a child’s character development is not only hardwired in their brain, but the fact that character development/EQ is actually linked to the physical formation of the brain. That phenomena leads to a developing belief that our nurture becomes our nature.

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Topics: CEPLeaders, Forum Speakers, CEPForum10

Creating Tomorrow's Leaders

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Fri, Sep 10, 2010 @ 18:09 PM

The following post was submitted from Beverly Woods Elementary School, a 2009 National School of Character.

How do we prepare our students for a future in which the jobs they will be doing do not yet exist and the technologies that they will be working with have not yet been invented? The answer to this question is varied and controversial. However, one thing we know for sure is we have to teach our students to lead, act responsibly and respect each other.

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Topics: CEPLeaders, Character Education News, National School of Character, Character Ed Infused in Curriculum, student voice

A Rare and Important Privilege

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Fri, Sep 3, 2010 @ 18:09 PM

“We live more and more of our lives in the splendid isolation of the Internet with all the faux connectors like Facebook, Twitter, and the rest. Getting together is increasingly a rare and important privilege.” When I read these words by Nick Morgan, President of Public Words, Inc., I found myself nodding and thinking, “That is so true.”

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Topics: Character Education News, CEPForum10

A Community of Character

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Sat, Aug 7, 2010 @ 18:08 PM

After my post on RAGBRAI, Rich Puppione, now retired from the Pleasanton School District, reminded me that one of the features of this year's National Forum is a site visit to Pleasanton, California. 

Here's a community where commitment to character permeates everything they do. Four schools in the district have been recognized with National Schools of Character awards, and the school district was named a National District of Character. The mayor, city council, and Chamber of Commerce have also adopted the same core values, or expected behaviors, as the school district has. It truly makes for a community of character.

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Topics: Character Education News, National School of Character, community of character, core values, CEPForum10, RAGBRAI

RAGBRAI and Core Values

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Tue, Aug 3, 2010 @ 18:08 PM

Last week my brother and sister completed RAGBRAI—the bicycle ride across Iowa. From the starting point in Sioux City to the end point in Dubuque, they rode 480 miles over the course of the week. They both came home tired but euphoric. They’d had a wonderful time.
My sister couldn’t stop talking about how friendly everyone was. “Iowa has to be the most hospitable state ever,” she said. At every stop, people from all walks of life offered their homes to the bicyclists (and there were a lot of them. One count on the first day reported 20,000). The bikers camped out in their yards, slept in their basements, and shared their family rooms.

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Topics: character education, Character Education News, Character Ed Infused in Curriculum, National Forum, core values, CEPForum10, RAGBRAI

Optimizing the High School Experience

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Tue, Jul 27, 2010 @ 18:07 PM

Since my first blog post generated a response from a high school teacher wondering about what the Forum will offer for educators at the secondary level, I thought I’d feature one of our PreForum workshops today: Optimizing the High School Experience.

Just take a look at the takeaways:

Participants will learn how to help secondary students...

  • Develop skills in perspective taking and empathy that lead to respectful and compassionate behavior.
  • Appreciate diversity and work collaboratively with their peers.
  • Build safe and respectful environments in their classrooms and school.
  • Develop positive relationships with their teachers.
  • Address underlying thoughts and emotions that interfere with learning.
  • Become self-motivated and engaged learners.
  • Identify their strengths, set goals, and prepare for their future.
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Topics: character education, Character Education News, character education in curriculum, character education in high school, discipline, CEPForum10

Avoiding Teacher Burnout

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Thu, Jul 22, 2010 @ 18:07 PM

I’ve been on the road for CEP lately, exhibiting at a few conferences. So I’ve had the opportunity to talk to quite a few teachers, and many are feeling burned out. They’re tired of being the media scapegoats for all that is wrong with education.

There’s even a Facebook page where teachers are posting Letters to Obama where they share their frustrations and concerns about education and hope to influence the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. I’ve been dismayed by much of the rhetoric, and wondered how CEP can help.

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Topics: Character Education News, teachers, CEPForum10

The Greenfield Way: Transforming our School Culture with Character-Based Discipline

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, Jun 7, 2010 @ 18:06 PM

By Claudia St. Amour, counselor

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Topics: testing, CEPLeaders, Character Education News, character education in curriculum, student voice, discipline

Assessment and Sustainability

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Thu, May 20, 2010 @ 18:05 PM

Posted by Brian McKenney, Principal, Long School

In The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, S.R. Covey suggests that when planning a program one should start with the end in mind.  At Long School, before planning new initiatives, the character leadership team analyzes data from the CHARACTERplus® School Report, completed each spring, to get a basic picture of the current state of our school.

The CHARACTERplus® School Report is a survey of staff, students, and parents designed to assess individuals’ opinions, feelings, and beliefs about the school.  That data provides useful information, from which the character education team identifies specific areas of need (e.g. Students’ Feelings of Belonging, School Expectations, etc.) that correlate with principles from Character Education Partnership’s Eleven Principles of Effective Character Education.  At Long School, assessment plays the role of bridge between what has been and what should be.  It is the end and the beginning of an endless cycle of school improvement.

The likelihood that character initiatives will survive and thrive over the years, regardless of changes in student population, personnel, and community is also carefully considered when planning new initiatives.

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Topics: testing, character education, Character Education News, character education in curriculum

"Character By Design" - Systematic Character Education Curriculum Development

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, Apr 12, 2010 @ 18:04 PM

Submitted by Donna Dunar, principal, Alta Leary Elementary School

What’s that old adage, “Necessity is the mother of invention”? In 2009, we earned National Schools of Character (NSOC) winner status; in 2008, we earned standing as “finalist.” As a finalist in the NSOC process, our site visitors rightly recommended that we work on the integration of character education so as to make it more systematic. We took this feedback to heart as we grappled with what this actually meant.

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Topics: CEPLeaders, character education, Character Education News, leadership, character education in curriculum, Character Ed Infused in Curriculum

Character Education and Service: Narratives That Engage Difference and Friendship

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, Mar 15, 2010 @ 18:03 PM

This post was written by Nan Peterson, Blake School, Hopkins, Minnesota

Teachers can help students develop the skills to engage authentically across difference through a series of interviews with the end goal of composing and making a gift of a published account of their partner's story. The service is the gift of story and the gift of friendship. The highlighted character quality is respect.

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Topics: Character Education News, student voice

Celebrating Cultural Differences in a Caring School Community

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Thu, Feb 11, 2010 @ 18:02 PM

This post was written by Ron Tucker, principal, Bayless Junior High School, St. Louis, MO

In this era of high-stakes testing and ever-increasing accountability, educators across the country have become familiar with the term “as evidenced by” when it comes to defending their school improvement plans. While testing is important, we know that developing healthy, responsible students is a mandate upon which we cannot compromise. As a native of the “Show-Me State,” I look for “evidence” that we are continually attempting to build a safe, caring school community that promotes tolerance for all of our citizens.

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Topics: CEPLeaders, Character Education News, student voice

Character Education Strategies for Life

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Tue, Jan 19, 2010 @ 18:01 PM

The following was written by Denise Arvidson, principal, Col. John Robinson School, Westford, Massachusetts.

Peace-It-Together:  Character Education Strategies for Life
What do playgrounds, lunchrooms, buses, after school programs and neighborhoods all have in common? They are the “hot spots” where many social and behavioral issues take root and then encroach on classroom learning time. Twelve years ago, some members of our school decided to take a proactive approach and formed a study group to address these issues. The result was a curriculum to give students the skills and strategies to become effective problem solvers in and out of school.

As we developed and implemented lessons, the Peace-It-Together program was born. The program has three components that include lessons on Building Community, Making and Keeping Friends and Making a Difference.

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Topics: character education in curriculum, student voice

Service leadership from younger students

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, Dec 21, 2009 @ 18:12 PM

Submitted by Nan Peterson, Director of Service PK-12 at The Blake School, in Minneapolis, MN.

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Topics: Character Education News


Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, Dec 14, 2009 @ 18:12 PM

The following post was written by Marilyn Jackson, Guidance Counselor, Fox C-6 School District, Seckman High School

We have heard it said many times that “learning is power,” and while obviously this is true, we often do not examine how we empower the learner.  How do we create an inviting atmosphere where students have autonomy? How can they apply the knowledge, skills, and values we have taught them to become moral, ethical people who are committed to themselves and the communities they live in?

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Topics: Character Education News, student voice

PBIS and Character Education: An Evolution towards Best Practice

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Thu, Sep 17, 2009 @ 18:09 PM

From Merle Schwartz, CEP director of education and research

Before I came to CEP in August of 2002, I was a school psychologist in Maine, a learning & behavior specialist, and wrote the first graduate course at that time on PBIS for the University of Southern Maine. Before that, I was a special education teacher for many years. I mention this because, at that time, I had the connection on how PBIS could been done well—and how character education was a foundational missing piece in most schools. Understanding character education allowed me to evolve beyond PBIS.

Although the intent of PBIS (remember it is part of IDEA), was to be proactive and prosocial, it  seems to have morphed back into standard behavior modification techniques. When I work with educators on this topic, and the need for the school to move beyond common “rule” to basic core ethical values, they quickly realize that PBIS does not help develop integrity. In many cases, when the reinforcers stop, the prosocial behavior stops as well.

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Topics: character education, Character Education News, what works in education, discipline

Unethical, Illegal, or Just Dumb?

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, Aug 3, 2009 @ 18:08 PM

By Joe Mazzola, CEP Executive Director

I’ve been following the trial of former Congressman William Jefferson in the Washington Post.  (You probably remember the case. He was found with $90,000 stashed in his freezer.  The money, marked by the FBI, was allegedly to be used to bribe the VP of another country. Jefferson was charged with 16 counts of bribery, racketeering and money laundering. ) Two recent articles really got me riled up. They summarize closing arguments by the defense counsel.

Basically, the attorney said his client was “stupid” and “exercised awful judgment,” but he was not a criminal. The lawyer made a distinction between ethics and the law, saying “prosecutors tried to turn what amounted to ethics violations into crimes. They’re trying to bend the law, stretch the facts to turn what is not a crime into a crime.”

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Topics: CEPLeaders, character education, Character Education News

Ignite "The Passion for What is Right" in Teens

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 @ 18:06 PM

Pam Bylsma, assistant principal at Hinsdale Central High School (IL) offers her insight into developing intrinsic motivation in teens.

Over the course of eight years, Hinsdale Central High School has evolved into a culture where students exhibit ethical and performance values, earning us recognition as a National School of Character.  How did we develop our students’ intrinsic motivation to do the right thing?  How can you work with your teenagers so that they genuinely strive to be their ethical best?

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Topics: CEPLeaders

Character Integration - authentic or artificial?

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Tue, Jun 9, 2009 @ 18:06 PM

Which is best? Or does it matter? In our preK-3 character building, the character lessons serve as something tangible for our young students to connect with and hold on to as they learn all about the pillars of character. Because of their developmental age, trustworthiness, for example, is kind of an abstract concept, but when we pitch a quarter - which represents a lie - in to a bucket of water and then give the students an "honest abe" penny to pitch in to show that it's impossible to cover up a lie, now we've done some science with the water displacement and given students a concrete visual of the ripple effects that lying and then trying to cover it up can have.

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Topics: National School of Character, what works in education, character education in curriculum, teachable moments

What is the impact of awards programs on students?

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Sun, Jun 7, 2009 @ 18:06 PM

Lara Maupin, Associate Director of the National Schools of Character, reflects on her son's feelings about end-of year awards. We welcome your comments on the value of awards and how best to foster intrinsic motivation. Click on the comment button below to responds.

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Topics: CEPLeaders

More on Integrating Character Education

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, Jun 1, 2009 @ 18:06 PM

Dr. Peter R. Greer, former headmaster of Montclair Kimberly Academy (NJ) and member of CEP's Blue Ribbon Panel, adds to the dialogue on integrating character education into the curriculum. He is the author of "Character Education on the Cheap"  [http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2007/11/14/12greer.h27.html.]

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Topics: CEPLeaders, National School of Character, character education in curriculum

2009 National Schools of Character Award Winners Announced

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Sun, May 24, 2009 @ 18:05 PM

The Character Education Partnership (CEP) has named seven public schools, one charter school, one private school, and one school district as 2009 National Schools of Character. Read the Press Release.

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Topics: character education, Character Education News

Integrating Character Education Into the Curriculum

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Sun, May 24, 2009 @ 18:05 PM

Read the recent dialogue between Marvin Berkowitz, Professor of Character Education at University of Missouri-St. Louis and Janice Stoodley, Director of the National Schools of Character. We invite your comments. How do you integrate character education into your curriculum?

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Topics: character education

O, Captain, my Captain

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Thu, Apr 23, 2009 @ 18:04 PM

“Crisis doesn’t necessarily make character, but it certainly reveals it.” 
--John Maxwell, leadership and management author
Recently, we have witnessed and celebrated the heroics of two captains.  The first was Captain “Sully” Sullenberger, who successfully landed his jet on the Hudson River and then made sure that every passenger was safely out of the cabin before stepping to safety himself.   The other was Captain Richard Phillips.  He surrendered himself to pirates off the coast of Africa to protect his crew.  These incidents could have been tragic, but they turned out okay.

Both captains were in positions of leadership.  They were responsible for the lives of others.  And, when tested under the most stressful of circumstances, they demonstrated great character.  They both put others ahead of themselves, risking their own lives in the process.   The two men further demonstrated good character after the fact.  Many of us were struck by their genuine humility and thought it was so nice to see them recognize others involved in their two miracles—the “true heroes,” as they called them.

In an editorial following the rescue, three different leadership scholars commented on the actions of Captain Phillips.  One of them said, “Wow.  What remarkable courage.  Not many people would have done that.”  The other two basically said that he merely did what was expected of any captain. 

I disagree. If Captain Phillips’ behavior was merely the expected, then why don’t we see such behavior more often? 

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Topics: CEPLeaders

2009 Conference - 16th National Forum on Character Education

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Sat, Apr 18, 2009 @ 18:04 PM

"Citizens of Character - the Foundation
of Democracy"

October 29-31, 2009
Hilton Alexandria Mark Center
Alexandria, Virginia

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Topics: Character Education News

Welcome to the official CEP Blog on Character

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Thu, Jan 15, 2009 @ 18:01 PM

Here you will find articles from CEP Members, Leaders, Speakers, and select authors from around the country and the world. As a CEP Member please feel free to make comments about the articles you see here. We welcome feedback and suggestions!

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Topics: CEPLeaders, Character Education News, National School of Character, Forum Speakers