What's Happening in Character?

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

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

Heroes On and Off the Screen

Posted by Rob McManamy on Fri, May 17, 2013 @ 10:05 AM

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Topics: key lessons, leadership, integrity

The Power of Perseverance: Character, Health and Fitness

Posted by Joe Mazzola on Thu, Mar 7, 2013 @ 09:03 AM


This blog was written from my perspective as a Personal Fitness Trainer and a lifelong exerciser.  It provides very helpful and easy-to-understand tips on losing weight and getting into better shape.  My goal is to help those who struggle in one or both areas.  All of the information comes from a longer paper on the same subject which you can access through a link at the end of this posting.  So, with this brief backdrop, I am pleased and honored to share the following information that I believe will help you achieve your health and fitness goals.  More importantly, it will help improve your quality of life in countless ways.  I’ll start with Diet and then shift to Exercise.  Okay, the warm-up is over—let’s roll.

Diet—Tipping the Scales for Success

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Topics: key lessons, discipline, core values

‘Our journey is not complete’, either

Posted by Rob McManamy on Wed, Jan 23, 2013 @ 12:01 PM

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Topics: key lessons, leadership, integrity, moral character, school safety

A New Kind of No Child Left Behind

Posted by Lara Maupin on Fri, Dec 21, 2012 @ 09:12 AM

As we all continue to struggle with the impact of the horrible tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, we find ourselves as a nation at a crossroads about what we can do to better protect our children, especially at school. We are suddenly more willing than we have been in recent times to tackle complex and controversial issues such as gun control, mental health services, and violence in video games and the media. But those of us who are parents and teachers and school leaders can’t wait for these issues to be addressed through the political process – although I, for one, commend any American with the passion and expertise required to work on these issues for doing so. At CEP our mission is to create engaged and ethical citizens so we certainly applaud and support civic engagement and civil public discourse. However, those we serve need support and concrete strategies NOW, TODAY. Thankfully, our National Schools of Character can serve as models for what a safe school can be and our 11 Principles can serve as a roadmap for any school that would like to get there.

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Topics: key lessons, school safety, National School of Character, no child left behind

Nurturing an Attitude of Gratitude in Kids

Posted by Michele Borba on Tue, Nov 20, 2012 @ 09:11 AM

There’s something about the Thanksgiving season that tunes up my “reflective switch” and makes me think a bit more about our children. I worry that over the years we’ve removed ourselves a bit as a society from the real meaning of this glorious holiday. We’re seeing an upsurge–even in a recession–of kids who are a bit too spoiled, a bit too unappreciative, and a bit more ungrateful for all the good things life has to offer.

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Topics: key lessons, family, Borba Michele, teachable moments, Michele Borba

How can we create more just and democratic schools?

Posted by Adam Williams on Sat, Nov 3, 2012 @ 17:11 PM

In Marvin Berkowitz’s Hot Topic discussion this afternoon, he didn’t hesitate to cut right to the point. “We need to make schools less like prisons,” he said. “When you think about it, it’s disconcerting how much the analogy fits. How can we create more enlightened and just schools?” Marvin’s talk focused on utilizing empowerment and democracy to accomplish this. 

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Topics: CEPLeaders, key lessons, character, character education, CEP2012, cheating, student voice, core values, what works in education, CEPForum10, character education in high school, Character Ed Infused in Curriculum

The Powerful Effect of Parenting

Posted by Adam Williams on Sat, Nov 3, 2012 @ 00:11 AM

When keynote presenter Paul Tough became a dad, he never thought he would be using parenting techniques he learned from rats. Tough delivered a compelling keynote address at the 2012 National Forum during the afternoon session. "Parents and other caregivers who are able to form close, nurturing relationships with their children can foster resilience in them that protects them from many of the worst effects of a harsh early environment."  Amazingly, we see strong evidence of this in the behavior of lab rats. The effect of good parenting is not just emotional or physiological. Neuroscientists say it is biochemical.

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Topics: key lessons, character, Forum Speakers, CEP2012

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

Everything You Need

Posted by Bertice Berry on Tue, Sep 25, 2012 @ 12:09 PM

The following comes from one of our National Forum on Character Education keynoters, Bertice Berry's, blog. She is blogging daily in an attempt to teach her readers and herself the art of transformation. She writes:

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Topics: key lessons, Forum Speakers, teachable moments, Bertice Berry

Back to School and Back to Stress for Some Students

Posted by Irene Sullivan on Tue, Sep 4, 2012 @ 13:09 PM

It’s a fresh start. A chance to start over. An opportunity to be successful, to put the past behind, to forge a new reputation and to have perfect attendance. The new school year offers students new teachers, new friends, new challenges and new rewards.

Sadly, for many middle and high school students, it’s another year of half-hearted attempts to get to school, cherry-picking classes to attend, discouragement, suspensions, falling behind, temptations from the outside world, little parental encouragement to attend school every day and eventually being labeled a “dropout.” 

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Topics: key lessons, Forum Speakers, what works in education, community of character

President's Post: Broader Impact of Bullying

Posted by Mark Hyatt on Fri, Aug 31, 2012 @ 09:08 AM

Earlier this month, I attended the Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention Summit here in D.C. Now, we all know how concerned Secretary Arne Duncan and the U.S. Dept. of Education are about this issue. But I was particularly heartened to hear how pro-active the U.S. Justice Department is. They are also working to reduce and prevent school bullying across the nation. 

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Topics: key lessons, Education News, president's post, cyberbullying, bullying advice

7 Surprising Parenting Solutions That Boost Kids’ School Success

Posted by Michele Borba on Tue, Aug 28, 2012 @ 09:08 AM

Academic success impacts our children for the rest of their lives: it influences their self-esteem, college selections, job attainment, financial success, and even their choice of spouse. It’s no wonder we go great lengths to give our kids an academic edge.

But despite our good intentions, we often overlook a few simple strategies that research has proven to impact children’s academic success. Even better, these seven science-backed solutions are things that every parent can do, don’t cost a dime, and they are proven to boost children’s school success.

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Topics: key lessons, parent involvement, Borba Michele, Michele Borba

Staying in the Question

Posted by Bradley Warner on Tue, Aug 21, 2012 @ 14:08 PM

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Topics: key lessons, moral character, teachable moments, teachers

Character Education with Chess

Posted by Roumen Bezergianov on Tue, Aug 7, 2012 @ 12:08 PM

The following is an excerpt of the book “Character Education with Chess”

The King is the most valuable piece in chess. Its value is absolute because if you lose your King, you lose the game. The other pieces have a relative value which changes depending on the position and situation and are expendable. The King, therefore, symbolizes those crucial things in life that can not be bought and sold.

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Topics: key lessons, character education, Forum Speakers, moral character

What Sandy Showed Me

Posted by Joe Mazzola on Fri, Mar 23, 2012 @ 11:03 AM

 I have a very heavy heart right now because Sandy McDonnell passed away. You see, he was my hero. Like many others who knew and loved this great man, I now feel a huge emptiness in my life that I know will never be filled. I loved Sandy like a father.

It was a great blessing to have him in my corner for the five years I served as CEP’s executive director. Anyone who knows me would surely tell you that I needed all the help I could get, too. And that was especially true since I had no experience in the nonprofit sector until Sandy and others hired me.  

Fortunately, on the work front, Sandy was always there for me. He coached and guided me through all of the really important and tough areas of running any organization—like financial management, strategic planning, human resources and more.

And, Sandy did all of this mentoring quietly and behind-the-scenes. Board members, staff and others never knew all he did for me from the shadows. That’s because Sandy was one of those very rare but genuine servant leaders that many of us read about but never meet. He couldn’t care less about being in the spotlight. Instead, he worked to make everyone else around him shine. 

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Topics: CEPLeaders, key lessons, role models, leadership, integrity

Character Education Isn't a Quick Fix, but Well Worth the Effort.

Posted by Katie Hood on Fri, Jan 6, 2012 @ 16:01 PM

I recently listened to a radio show that discusses issues in American education. This day's particular show focused on character education and featured Crestwood Elementary School (MO) principal Scott Taylor.

The most striking thing I realized while listening to the show was that the most common issues in education: bullying, poor academic performance, pressure for students to reach test scores rather than truly learn just aren't issues at NSOCs.

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Topics: key lessons, character education, National School of Character, what works in education