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CharacterPlus National Conference

As you know, the annual CharacterPlus
National Conference is June 16-17, 2015. We have two keynotes, one panel of community leaders and six pre-conference offerings for our conference attendees! The conference sessions are now listed online, sorted by topic or grade level.

Keynote speakers are Tanya Avrith and Baruti Kafele. Avrith is an innovation specialist and digital citizenship expert. Kafele is a leading authority on strategies for creating a positive school climate and culture, motivating students to excel in the classroom and school leadership development.  

Press play above to see the CharacterPlus
National Conference video from EdPlus Studios!

New this year: Panel and Pre-con Opportunities

We have an exciting panel during lunch on Wednesday, focusing on Character in the Workplace. Panelists include leading authorities from top companies:

• Thomas Ahr, BJC
• Khalia Collier, St. Louis Surge
• Dave Estes, Maritz
• Deb Hollingsworth, AT&T 
• Ann Seeney, St. Louis Cardinals

Six pre-conference workshops are available on Monday, June 15! Take a look at the selections by clicking here, each is three hours and all take place at the St. Charles Convention Center. This is a great opportunity to have deeper conversations about character development
, plus have hands-on time with provided resources!
egistration for the conference is open at

Give STL Day for our Teacher Scholarship Fund

Give STL Day is a 24-hour giving event with local impact taking place on Tuesday, May 5th. This year, CharacterPlus challenges principals, educators, support staff and parents to invest in the training of other area educators who can benefit from training and networking offered at our annual CharacterPlus National Conference. We are participating in Give STL Day next week! Make a donation of $10, $25 or $50 on May 5th to support our Teacher Scholarship Fund, supporting partial and full scholarships to the CharacterPlus National Conference. It's simple and easy to do, just visit on Tuesday and give us your support!

Connecting Early Childhood with Character Education

CharacterPlus held a early childhood education workshop in
January of this year and more than 100 early childhood educators gathered to hear experts in the field and network with each other about best practices. We thank PNC Bank for generously sponsoring the workshop. For the first time, CharacterPlus has created videos from this workshop, so now you can get the latest information on the subject even if you didn’t attend!

Steve Zwolak “The Keys to Character in Early Childhood Education”
[watch Steve here]

Steve Zwolak is recognized nationally as a leader in early childhood education and the importance of focusing on social, emotional and character development during a child’s formative years. With more than 40 years’ experience teaching and working in the field, he is now the CEO of LUME Institute and Executive Director of University City Children’s Center in St. Louis, Mo. His approach brings together theoretical, observational and neuroscientific research that emphasizes that the emotional development of children is critical to future academic success.

Through LUME Institute, Mr. Zwolak leads Child Care Aware of Eastern Missouri, which is responsible for providing professional development for thousands of early childhood teachers annually. He inspires students and teachers to recognize and move beyond their personal experiences in order to achieve optimum levels of personal and professional success.

Leslei Harper “Early Childhood Books that Build Character”
[watch Leslei here]

Leslei Harper has been an early childhood educator with Rockwood Early Childhood (Rockwood School District, St. Louis, MO) for the past 13 years. She serves as special education/general education teacher in charge of an integrated mixed-age preschool classroom (ages 3 to 5) and is dually certified ECSE/EC MAT. Leslei explains why books are a critical way to teach children character. “Since young children often have difficulty identifying and communicating their feelings, stories can serve to facilitate open discussion and self-understanding and problem solving skills about real-world problems.”

Operation Beautiful - Bayless

During April Bayless School District secondary students focused on "inner beauty." The brain child of the high school student council, two leadership classes and junior high National Honor Society, “Operation Beautiful" kicked off an awareness campaign and a No-Make-Up Day challenge.

Arnela Jakubovic explained the reason: 90% of women want to change at least one aspect of their physical appearance, and only 2% of women think they are beautiful. Peer pressure and culture can re-balance the scales by focusing on the qualities that make a person real, kind, courageous and committed to making the world around them a better place. More than 100 students joined forces and spoke at assemblies, created a video and covered mirrors with black paper. They also put encouraging post-it notes in English, Bosnian, Spanish, Vietnamese, Mandarin Chinese, Croatian and more than 16 additional languages around the schools. Men stepped out of their comfort zone to tell women how beautiful they were on the inside. A majority of 800-plus students took part and deepened the bonds of friendship and connection that set Bayless students apart. If you want to inspire a similar movement in your school, contact Gerrie Robards,


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