Essential Character Newsletter                                                                    April 2014

2014 National Forum on Character Education
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, Mary Gordon, Marvin Berkowitz, Clifton Taulbert, Hal Urban, and more.

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This month, Essential Character is spotlighting Principle 10 of CEP’s 11 Principles of Effective Character Education. 
Principle 10 is defined as:
The school engages families and community members as partners in the character-building effort.

CEP further explains this principle within the context of the following three key indicators:
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  • 10.1.  The school engages families in the character education initiative.
  • 10.2.  The administration and faculty regularly communicate with parents and guardians, providing suggestions and activities that help them reinforce the core values, and they survey parents, both formally and informally, on the effectiveness of the school’s character education efforts.
  • 10.3.  The school recruits the help of the wider community.

Intuitively, it makes sense that students who receive consistent messages at home and at school are more likely to retain those messages.

Example of Principle 10 Promising Practices:

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President's Column
 Rebecca Sipos, Interim President & CEO

Engaging Families and the Community in Your Character Education Efforts

By Becky Sipos
CEP’s principle 10 sounds so simple. But recent events have made me think that it is much more challenging than we realize.

Last month I had the honor of presenting at New Jersey’s State Schools of Character Recognition Ceremony, and I got to hear a great keynote from Rutgers psychology professor Maurice Elias. One thing he said really surprised me. In talking with parents about the good things that come from good social-emotional-character programs, he asked them, “Isn’t that what we all want for our kids?” He got push back. “No,” some said, “We want rigorous academics…” Dr. Elias was startled. He reframed the question: “What sort of schools do you want for your grandchildren?” More >>

National Schools of Character - Lesson Plans

Parent and Community Connections

School District of Jefferson
This is a character education activity that integrates art, language arts, math, writing and science. It is well received by students, parent, and community members. Children make Garden of Virtues Posters or Peace Posters to start the new year. The posters are delivered to city government offices and businesses wishing success and peace in the coming year.

Adding “Homeside” to “Schoolside” Learning

Rockwood School District
“Homeside activities” are designed as an extension of “schoolside” activities. They further promote the development of a “Caring Schools Community.” The activities are built around conversations between students and their family members and thereby help create a partnership between school and home. They deal with topics and ideas related to the student’s schoolwork and may involve a short writing or drawing activity.

 National Schools of Character Program
Project: What’s Wrong with the World? (And How Do We Fix It?)
Kay Granger Elementary School
Students work together to research an ecological issues and then specify solutions that families can take to address the issue. Teachers should be familiar with ecological issues, their causes and consequences. Curricular standards addressed include; research, writing a multi-paragraph essay, writing a persuasive essay, editing and revising, speaking and listening skills, and technology standards.

CEP is now 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  Learn more >>

Blogs & Other Articles of Interest

Raising a Moral Child
By Adam Grant
(From The NY Times, April 11, 2014)

What does it take to be a good parent? We know some of the tricks for teaching kids to become high achievers. For example, research suggests that when parents praise effort rather than ability, children develop a stronger work ethic and become more motivated. Read more >>

Classrooms with a Cause

A curriculum to help teachers and students plan meaningful service projects, based on what they’re studying (or studied) that term. The Classrooms with a Cause framework includes a student workbook, a facilitator's guide, subject-area prompts, and rubrics to help measure and demonstrate student outcomes. Based on Youth Service America's (YSA) successful Semester of Service framework, Classrooms with a Cause helps teachers answer the proverbial question, “Why do I have to learn that?”, with a more compelling answer than the age old, “Because it’s on the test.” Learn more >>

Calendar Items

The 2014 National Schools of Character will be announced May 15, 2014.

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.

Congressional Briefing by Committee for Children, April 30, 12:00 – 1:30pm, SVC 203-02, Capitol Visitors Center. Ready to Learn and Ready to Work:  Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) as Cornerstone of School-Readiness and Career-Readiness. Learn more >>

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

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 >>

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

See Calendar of Events

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