Essential Character Newsletter                                                    March 2014

2014 National Forum on Character Education Registration Coming Soon!

Join us Oct. 31st -Nov. 1st for two full days of thought-provoking breakouts and inspiring keynotes from some of the powerhouses in character education:
Michele Borba, Eduardo Briceño, Barbara Gruener, Marvin Berkowitz, Clifton Taulbert, Hal Urban

Registration is almost open. Click here to be notified when it launches.

CEP Announces the 2014 National Schools of Character Finalists

Character Education Partnership has named 50 schools and districts as national finalists in the 2014 National Schools of Character (NSOC) program.The NSOC program recognizes schools and districts that have demonstrated, through a rigorous evaluation process, that character development has had a positive impact on academics, student behavior, and school climate. CEP has provided this program to K-12 schools and districts in the U.S. since 1998.
See 2014 Finalists >>

Promising Practices
Apply Now for Promising Practice Recognition

Share your great ideas and good practices regarding ANY of CEP’s 11 Principles of Effective Character Education by applying for a 2014 Promising Practice award. The application window is open now and runs through midnight on April 4, 2014. Winning practices will be shared on CEP’s website and showcased at the 2014 National Forum. Every school — indeed, every teacher at every school — has the potential to create something impactful in their respective sphere of influence. Every educator can benefit from the great ideas of others. Apply today

Kehrs Mill Elementary School
National Schools of Character

Lesson Plan
This month's lesson plan is Fifth Grade Service Project from Kehrs Mill Elementary School.

By working with a local food pantry, students examine the essential question, “Are we more alike or more different than those who have less (or more) than us?” They learn that those less fortunate are closer to them geographically, socially, and emotionally than they may have previously assumed as they collect items for a food drive. See lesson plan >>
Sandy McDonnell
The Legacy of an Honorable Man

by Becky Sipos 

Two years ago this month, Sandy McDonnell, CEP’s founding board chair, died. He had an impressive resume. However, that resume was only one tiny part of who he was as a person. Read More >>

the science of character

#CharacterDay is Tomorrow!

What is your Character? How do you build a meaningful and successful life and help other around you do the same? 

Join us and the world for #CharacterDay this Thursday, March 20th and watch the global premiere of "The Science of Character" short film that will explore Character & its place in our world.

Watch the trailer and learn more >> 

Want to work at CEP? 
CEP is now accepting applications for our Schools of Character Director. See below for our note about it and find out more here.

This month, Essential Character is spotlighting Principle 5 of
CEP’s 11 Principles of Effective Character Education.

Principle 5: The school provides students with opportunities for moral action.

Alt Academy-Crayons for Kids
Promising Practices and the 5th principle
By Dr. Dave Keller
As a national evaluator for both the National Schools of Character (NSOC) program and the CEP’s Promising Practice program, I admit that I absolutely LOVE reading applications from schools that exemplify Principle 5.  

In many respects, this is where the “rubber meets the road” --- or, more academically speaking, this is where theory meets practical application. Schools that are strong in Principle 5 inevitably appear to be “beaming with pride” as they discuss their efforts to engage students within the school and in the broader community. 
Inaugural Issue of Research Journal
The inaugural issue of the Journal of Character Education is now available. From an updated cover, to carefully crafted and thoughtful manuscripts, to reviews of significant books, the newly-designed journal should make a substantive contribution to forward thinking in character education and provide the basis for much discussion.

This issue includes a CEP article titled, “It’s Unanimous: Effective Character Education isn’t Quick or Superficial and it Begins with Caring Relationships” written by our Schools of Character Director, Dr. Russ Sojourner.
Learn more >>
“School Climate Policy and Practice Trends: A Paradox” 
by Jonathan Cohen, President, National School Climate Center
There has never been more federal and state support for school climate reform efforts in America. Paradoxically, most practitioners are not sure what school climate improvement means on day-to-day basis. This commentary details three factors that contribute to school climate more
Blogs and Recommended Readings

From CEP
Teaching animal appreciation: a pathway to character
By Zoe Weil, President, Institute for Humane Education

From Connected Principals
5 Ways To Cultivate A Culture Of Acceptance
Submitted by William Parker

From Edutopia
A Teaching Moment: Harriet Tubman
Harriet Tubman's story offers a fascinating study of
leadership, resilience, and history.
Submitted by Elena Aguilar

From Taking Note - Thoughts on Education from John Merrow
Why Teachers are Leaving
By John Merrow

How to Build Leaders (It’s a Dad’s Job)
by Carey Casey 


Maya Angelou's Poetry: A Lesson in Service, History, SEL, and Civics
By Dr. Maurice Elias
Exposing our students to the powerful words and images of Maya Angelou's poetry builds their skills in reading, character education, vocabulary, civics, history, and humanity

From Fix School Discipline
The How We Can Fix Schoo
l Discipline Toolkit is a step-by-step guide for educators, students, parents and other community members to work together.

News Briefs

Job Opening: Schools of Character Director
Dr. Russ Sojourner, Director of National Schools of Character, will depart at the end of May to become the President of The Classical Academy (TCA), the largest charter school system in Colorado. “The work I do with CEP is terrific and noble work, and I was not looking to leave,” Russ said. “But I do value and respect TCA, and their President position is the one other seat I would consider filling.  I’ve missed participating in the daily life of a school, and I’m excited to continue to implement the CEP principles in a school system that places a high priority on nurturing children as they become both smart and good citizens. But I’m confident that with your support, Becky and CEP will continue to positively affect the thousands of teachers and young people we already impact around the country.” 

“Naturally we are said sad to see Russ leave,” said Interim President and CEO Becky Sipos. “He has done great things in his two years at CEP, both for the Schools of Character Program and with his professional development trainings all around the world. We are now seeking a strong candidate to replace him.” Learn more about the position >>

NIJ To Fund Research To Increase School Safety
The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) has announced it will make available approximately $15 million under the Comprehensive School Safety Initiative for multiple grants to address school safety nationwide. These grants will fund research to examine the root causes of school violence and to develop new technologies, apply evidence-based approaches, and test pilot programs to enhance school safety.
See details >>

Bullying May Have Lasting Health Effects on Kids
Kids who are picked on by their peers may see lasting effects on their physical and mental well-being -- especially if the bullying is allowed to persist for years, a new study suggests.
The study found that kids who are chronically bullied seem to fare the worst: Those continually picked on from fifth grade to 10th grade had the lowest scores on measures of physical and emotional health.

See news story from
Read abstract from Pediatrics

Calendar Items

April 4: Character Education Partnership - Promising Practices Application deadline. Apply now >>

Proposals are now being accepted for the 40th Annual Conference of the Association for Moral Education Nov.6-­‐8, 2014, Pasadena, CA.
Deadline for full consideration is April 18, 2014. Learn more

BOOST Conference, April 29 - May 2, Palm Springs, CA. Join the nation's largest, most recognized and comprehensive conference for after-school and out-of-school time professionals. Set in a retreat-like atmosphere, this extraordinary event will rejuvenate your passion and boost your direction for quality programming.

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. Call for presenters >>  
National Forum on Character Education: Beyond Accountability; Inspiring Greatnesss, Character Education Partnership, Oct 30 – Nov 2, 2014, Renaissance Hotel, Washington, DC.

See Calendar of Events


Effective March 1, 2014, all mail should be addressed to:

Character Education Partnership
1634 I Street NW, Suite 550
Washington, DC 20036

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