What's Happening in Character?

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

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

Character Education Data and the New Character Map

Posted by Sora Wondra on Fri, Jul 26, 2013 @ 12:07 PM


By Sora Wondra, Advancement Officer

CEP often receives inquiries from researchers asking about state-level character education legislation or from teachers and parents who are interested in finding a local National School of Character. In order to share this valuable information with a larger audience, Character.org has developed a new at-a-glance tool—the Character Map.

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Topics: character education, Character Education News, National School of Character, NSOC, patriotism

Extra Early Bird Promotion Discount Ends Soon!

Posted by Jesse Marble on Fri, Jul 12, 2013 @ 09:07 AM

 

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Topics: National School of Character, Forum Speakers, National Forum, school climate, international summit, promising practices, 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: no child left behind, key lessons, National School of Character, school safety

National School of Character Helps Neighboring School after Sandy

Posted by Lara Maupin on Thu, Nov 29, 2012 @ 09:11 AM

Richard Stockton Elementary (2012 National School of Character) students were busy in the week before Thanksgiving as they worked on their service efforts to help those impacted by Superstorm Sandy. On Tuesday, students, staff, and parents traveled with the donations they had collected to Brigantine, New Jersey, home of 2011 NSOC Brigantine Elementary.

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Topics: National School of Character, Service learning, resiliency

National Schools of Character Lead Post-Sandy Service Learning

Posted by Lara Maupin on Wed, Nov 21, 2012 @ 09:11 AM

Eloisa DeJesus-Woodruff, Principal of 2012 National School of Character (NSOC) Richard Stockton Elementary in Cherry Hill, New Jersey was so moved by the devastation being faced by her fellow citizens in New Jersey and New York in the wake of Sandy that she returned from the National Forum ready to act. She had a vision of mobilizing the National Schools of Character to help those in need – other NSOC communities that were impacted as well as anyone else who needed help through the Red Cross. She hoped her students could help others and would have the opportunity to share stories with other students in other communities around the country. Knowing the power of service learning in her own community, she envisioned how much impact the NSOCs could have by working together.

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Topics: CEPLeaders, National School of Character, Service learning, leadership, resiliency

Call for Stories: How Are You Helping Superstorm Sandy's Victims?

Posted by Katie Hood on Tue, Nov 20, 2012 @ 16:11 PM

Superstorm Sandy devastated much of the East Coast at the end of October. Millions lost homes, pets, electricity, and some have lost hope. However, many of our National Schools of Character have mobilized to help alleviate the issues that many of these communities are facing. 

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Topics: character, Education News, National School of Character, leadership

Why Do These National Schools of Character Do Character Education?

Posted by Adam Williams on Sat, Nov 3, 2012 @ 18:11 PM

 

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Topics: character, character education, Education News, National School of Character, character education in curriculum, CEP2012

Where the Spirit of Learning Soars & Character Grows: a Good-to-Great Story

Posted by Scott Taylor on Tue, Oct 23, 2012 @ 10:10 AM

Eight years ago, Crestwood Elementary School in St. Louis, Missouri, became truly engaged in character education. We were already a pretty good school and doing some character education, but a district decision directed all schools to do more character education following the Caring School Community (CSC) program with its emphasis on autonomy, belonging, and competence. A leadership team of four staff and one parent became excited about the possibilities that an increased focus on character education could bring to our school. Now, eight years later Crestwood has just finished a remarkable year when we were named not only a National School of Character, but a National Blue Ribbon School as well —the only school in the nation to receive both of these prestigious national awards.

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

Why Do You Do Character Education?

Posted by Lara Maupin on Fri, Oct 5, 2012 @ 11:10 AM

We asked our 2012 National Schools of Character why they do character education. Some replied:

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

Connecting Service Learning to Character and Academic Growth

Posted by David Wangaard on Tue, Jul 17, 2012 @ 12:07 PM

David Wangaard, Ed.D., is the Director of the School for Ethical Education and author of this post.

In working or visiting with teachers, I often find they think service learning is just adult-led community service. Service learning is, however, quite distinct from community service. See the eight quality standards for service learning that The National Youth Leadership Council (NYLC) has published to define effective practice. 

I want to talk about three of these standards to highlight how they advance excellent character and academic growth in students: 

  1. Students are engaged in planning, implementing and evaluating the project;
  2. Teachers plan into the project specific academic objectives aligned with school curricular goals or standards; and
  3. All project participants engage in formative and summative reflection.

All three of these standards, in addition to the other five noted by the NYLC, create a meaningful distinction between traditional community service and the robust teaching strategy of service learning. These standards are also linked to many of Character.org's 11 Principles.

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

What's Different for Students in a School of Character?

Posted by Lara Maupin on Tue, Jun 5, 2012 @ 15:06 PM

In schools of character:

  • Bullying is rare

87% of students attending 2011 National Schools of Character reported in climate surveys that they felt safe school or that bullying was rare (with 27 of the 44 NSOC reporting data in this category).

Eldridge Park Elementary School (Lawrenceville, NJ): 100% of 3rd graders report feeling safe at school in exit polls.

Fuguitt Elementary School (Largo, FL): 98% of students report feeling safe at school

Mark Twain Elementary School (Brentwood, MO): The school reports an 85% reduction in incidents of bullying over the past 6 years.

Union Elementary School (Buckhannon, WV): 93% of students surveyed say they have never been bullied.

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Topics: CEPLeaders, bullying advice, National School of Character, student voice

Bullying Prevention: What Really Works

Posted by Lara Maupin on Tue, Apr 10, 2012 @ 15:04 PM

There’s been a great deal of nationwide interest in the issue of bullying lately, with good reason since about one-quarter of our nation’s students report being bullied regularly. Despite the intensified focus, many well-meaning parents, educators, and leaders are left wondering what exactly they should do to stop peer cruelty and prevent possible tragedies. Zero tolerance? Anti-bullying coordinators? Legislation? Assemblies? Curriculum? What really works? Where can educators get the most bang for their buck and make the biggest positive impact on the young people in their care?

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Topics: bullying advice, National School of Character, Service learning

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

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

Resiliency in Youth: The Power of the Entrepreneur Mindset

Posted by Clifton Taulbert on Tue, Aug 30, 2011 @ 17:08 PM

When I was 13, I was hired by “Uncle Cleve,” a local entrepreneur who lived in my Mississippi Delta hometown of Glen Allan, to work with him at his Ice House. I had to wait on customers, cut the ice into multiple sizes, make change and be quick about it. I had to learn to speak up and to be polite even when I didn’t feel it was required. Even though I was only 13, I was involved in man’s work.

I found myself surrounded by a mindset of “I can and I will” …the thesis of my recent book, "Who Owns the Ice House?” The environment was so powerful that it gave me a new way of thinking. I didn’t have to do what everyone else was doing.

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Topics: National School of Character, National Forum, resiliency

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

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

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

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

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 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

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

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

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