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ssential Character Newsletter                                                    May 2014

2014 National Schools of Character Announced

The Character Education Partnership is proud to name 41 schools and 3 districts to its 2014 roster of National Schools of Character (NSOC). Each school or district is recognized for its commitment to character education and for fostering a positive environment for social and academic learning.

Read the full press release

“Becoming an NSOC is quite an accomplishment,” said Russ Sojourner, the Director of the Schools of Character program. “We at CEP are incredibly impressed with their accomplishments toward creating a positive school climate, where students are inspired, motivated, and taught to be both smart and good.” 

Each of these schools or districts has a story to tell about increased academic achievement, fewer disciplinary problems, and other benefits of a caring school climate. 

Here are just a few examples:

Lindbergh School District, Ranking #1 for academic achievement in Missouri, Lindbergh's rigorous curriculum and diversified instruction enrich the learning experience for all. Student involvement via service & leadership is integral to its success. Parents & community are active in promoting citizenship & service. Lastly, Lindbergh provides the funds for systematic collection of data attesting to the success of Character Education. Lindbergh Schools could well serve as a national model for a district that has wed character training with academics to produce amazing results.

Imagine Charter School at Weston, Weston, Florida Blue Ribbon School of Excellence last year, Imagine Charter School at Weston's elementary students were ranked No. 1 in reading among 728 Florida schools with 25 percent or more English Language Learners, and second in math and fifth in science. Among all 1,780 Florida elementary schools, Imagine Charter School at Weston also ranked seventh in math, No. 22 in reading, and No. 36 in science. The middle school students also demonstrated high academic achievement, ranking No. 10 in math and No. 16 in reading among 577 middle schools.

Smith Street School, Uniondale, NY with .08% white, 37% African-American, 55% Hispanic & 67% poverty, this diverse school became a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence for its academics. Smith Street had the highest third grade math scores in Nassau County, and it scored highest in the Uniondale district on all NYS tests. Before the scoring changes in New York (NYS changed its scoring two years ago so ), its ELA state exam scores had a 10% increase in students passing in grade 3 over the past three years, fourth grade students had an 8% increase and fifth grade students had a 4% increase. The NYS Science exam showed 96% of Smith Street School students passed.

More >>


We can’t wait to honor our 2014 National Schools of Character (NSOC) at the  National Forum on Character Education, to be held Oct. 30-Nov. 2, 2014 in Wash., DC

Register Today!

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan offers his congratulations to the 2014 National Schools of Character! Play video >>

 Becky Sipos and Students from John Poole Middle School
Interim President and CEO Becky Sipos announced the 2014 National Schools of Character with a speech highlighting their achievements on various of CEP’s 11 Principles. Her comments on principle 4, “creating a caring school community” were echoed by eighth grade student Jennifer from John Poole Middle School. She said, “And I love coming to school every day…which I guess is pretty rare for most students.” Read the speech >>


Download our 2014 National Schools of Character Infographic >>
May is Teacher Appreciation Month
The entire month of May is dedicated to showing appreciation for the incredible dedication and hard work of our teachers. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

CEP is accepting nominations for the 2014 “Sandy Award”

 'Sandy' Award
Each year, Character Education Partnership (CEP) honors one individual for his or her long and steadfast commitment to the field of character education. The person so honored receives the prestigious “Sanford N. McDonnell Award for Lifetime Achievement in Character Education” named in honor of Sandy McDonnell, the driving force behind the resurgent character education movement in America.  The 2014 award will be presented in Washington, DC, before an audience of educators from across the nation and the world, during the National Forum on Character Education.

The deadline for all submissions is Friday, May 30th.  Please email your nominations to Heather Cazad at hcazad@character.org.  Learn more >>

Grant Opportunities

The School Climate Transformation Grant
Local Educational Agency Program provides competitive grants to local educational agencies (LEAs) to develop, enhance, or expand systems of support for, and technical assistance to, schools implementing an evidence-based multi-tiered behavioral framework for improving behavioral outcomes and learning conditions for all students.
Learn more >>

Project Prevent Grant Program
This program provides funding to LEAs to increase their capacity both to identify, assess, and serve students exposed to pervasive violence, helping to ensure that affected students are offered mental health services for trauma or anxiety; support conflict resolution programs; and implement other school–based violence prevention strategies in order to reduce the likelihood that these students will later commit violent acts. Learn more >>

Blogs & Other Articles of Interest

Good Schools for All: Finishing the Work of Brown vs. Board of Education
By Dr. Maurice Elias
A good school is, or should be, within reach of every child. That was one of the intents of the Supreme Court when, on May 17, 1954, their decision in the case of Brown vs. the Board of Education, ruled unanimously that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal" and schools must be desegregated. Read more >>

Your Best Weapon Against Bullying? You!
By Diana Kennedy
(From SmartBlog on Education)

Bullying in school is rightly a topic of great concern these days. Not that it is necessarily worse than any other point in history, but with a recent spate of adolescent suicides, we are more aware than ever before of how damaging it can be, and how permanent the damage. In this article Diana talks about how teachers can be a powerful weapon against bullying. Read more >>

The Myths of Technology Series - "Technology Equals Engagement" 
by George Couros
(​From Connected Principals)
Often you hear statements from educators, such as “when the kids are on the computer, they are so engaged”.  Sometimes it is true in the initial stages of trying something for the first time. I have even see students insanely excited their first few times on “typing” programs, yet that quickly wears off when the mindlessness of the task presents itself.  As educators, we have to be able to differentiate between “novelty” and “engagement”; they often look the same at the beginning, but one will quickly fade. Read more >>

News Briefs

Sense of the U.S. Senate: More Civics Makes Sense
Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) joined by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) introduced a Resolution in the United States Senate calling for more time and attention to civic learning. The Resolution notes the proven practices in civic learning and calls for more professional development opportunities for Civics Teachers. Senator Cardin has been particularly helpful in attracting attention for the need to strengthen and improve civic learning for all students.  We are grateful to both Senators and their staff for the introduction of this helpful Resolution.


Justice O'Connor and Jeff Curley note Changes to SAT to require reading of Constitution
CMS Co Chair, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and iCivics Executive Director Jeff Curley published an OpEd in the "Wall Street Journal" earlier this month  that notes a positive 
change made by the College Board to the SAT. As the Justice and Mr. Curley note, "Something important happened in education last month. The College Board announced a new design for the SAT exam. And in doing so the organization made a commitment that every student who takes the new exam will read a passage from America's founding documents or the great global conversation they inspired." 

Justice O'Connor will be awarded CEP’s American Patriot of Character Award at the National Forum on Character Education


Join the Desmond Tutu Forgiveness Challenge
Learn about Archbishop Desmond Tutu's Global Forgiveness Challenge and how you can get involved. Read more >>


ED Seeks Reviewers for FY 2014 School Climate Transformation Grant Competition
The U.S. Department of Education is seeking expert reviewers for the Fiscal Year 2014 School Climate Transformation Grant (SCTG) program competition to be held this summer. The SCTG program is one of several programs developed in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Justice. The purpose of the School Climate Transformation Grant Program is to provide competitive grants to state educational agencies (SEAs) and local educational agencies (LEAs) to develop, enhance, or expand systems of support for, and technical assistance to, schools implementing an evidence-based multi-tiered behavioral framework for improving behavioral outcomes and learning conditions for all students.

If you are interested in serving as a peer reviewer, please register, provide your background information, and
upload your most recent resume

For more information, contact Eve Birge at (202) 453-6717(202) 453-6717 or by email at eve.birge@ed.gov.  


Calling all School Personnel: New Resource About Bullying and Suicide
Do you work in a school setting and have concerns about bullying and suicide among school-aged youth?

If so, there is a new resource out of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Violence Prevention, The Relationship between Bullying and Suicide: What We Know and What it Means for Schools, that may help. This resource provides you and other school personnel with:

  • The most current research findings about the relationship between bullying and suicide among school-aged youth; and
  • Action-oriented evidence-based suggestions to prevent and control bullying and suicide-related behavior in schools. 

Recommended Reading

Nicolas Kristof columns about Nigerian girls who were kidnapped from school:
What's So Scary About Smart Girls
Why the Kidnapped Schoolgirls Matter
Honoring the Missing Schoolgirls

Excellence & Ethics - Winter / Spring 2014
This issue looks at the growing threats to young people, especially and young women, posed by an increasingly toxic culture. Read more >>

Calendar Items

Character Education Partnership ConferenceOct 30 – Nov 2, 2014, Washington, DC. National Forum on Character Education: Beyond Accountability; Inspiring Greatness, Renaissance Hotel, Washington, DC. 

Characterplus Conference, June 17 - 18, St. Louis, MO. 20th Annual National Character Education Conference at the St. Charles Convention Center. Learn more >>

2014 Character Education Conference, June 26 - 27. Theme: “Character Mattersat theCharacter Development Center - Department of Learning & Teaching, School of Leadership & Education Sciences, University of San DiegoRegister here >>

NSCC Summer Policy Institute, July 7, New York, NY. NCSS will host their Second Annual School Climate Policy Institute. This one-day workshop will provide schools leaders and legislature advocates with guidelines and policies that inform positive school climate. Learn more >>

Winston Prep, NYC Connect and Collaborate, July 8 - 10: Two Essential School Climate Institutes July 2014! 17th Annual Summer Institute 

NSCC Summer Institute, July 8-10, New York, NY. Join our partners at the National School Climate Center (NSCC) for their 17th Annual Summer Institute in on School Climate Renewal and the Common Core. NSCC invites K-12 educators & administrators, State and District education leaders, policymakers, researchers, and community members to join them in learning how to develop effective school improvement plans, utilize best practices to support bullying prevention, how to successfully integrate Common Core into school climate improvement, and more. Learn more >>

National Conference on Character, October 16 - 17, 2014, Abbotsford, British Columbia. Sharing national stories of successful character initiatives including the Abbotsford City of Character story; providing resources to conference attendees with step-by-step guidance on how to start a character movement in your community; establishing a Character Canada Board of Directors to further develop the national vision. 

Character Education for a Challenging Century, October 22 - 24, 2014, Geneva, Switzerland. The conference will bring together a global, growing community focused on the theme of “Character education for success in life and work” at the International School of Geneva. 

See Calendar of Events

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