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CharacterPlus National Conference

Mark your calendars! We've got three great days of character development professional learning in store this summer.

The CharacterPlus
National Conference is June 16-17, 2015 (pre-conference is June 15). This year, we have two fantastic keynotes, one dynamic panel of community leaders and six pre-conference offerings for our conference attendees!

Morning keynote speakers will be Tanya Avrith and Baruti Kafele. Tanya Avrith is an innovation specialist and digital citizenship expert. Principal Kafele is a leading authority on strategies for creating a positive school climate and culture, transforming the attitudes of at-risk student populations, motivating students to excel in the classroom and school leadership development. 

This year, we will have a panel during lunch, featuring a focus on Character in the Workplace. The panelists include:

 • Deb Hollingsworth, retired executive, AT&T
 • Dave Estes, vice president, human resources and talent acquisition, Maritz
 • Ann Seeney, director of human resources, St. Louis Cardinals
 • Thomas Ahr, director of leadership, human resources division, BJC
 • Khalia Collier, owner, St. Louis Surge (semi-pro women's basketball team)

Also new this year: six pre-conference workshops! Take a look at the selections, each is three hours and all take place at the St. Charles Convention Center:

Leading the Character Charge when Followers are Few & Hard to Find
Audience Grade Level: K-12 | Audience Experience Level: Beginner

Courageous Conversations About Race
Audience Grade Level: K-12 | Audience Experience Level: All

Dramatic Play: Giving Meaning to Service Learning
Audience Grade Level: Early Childhood | Audience Experience Level: Beginner

Inspired Leadership that Transforms School Culture
Audience Grade Level: Elementary | Audience Experience Level: Beginner

Fostering Student Self-Motivation
Audience Grade Level: All  | Audience Experience Level: All

Pushing Past Mediocre… (The 7 P’s to Leadership, Legacy and Human Excellence)
Audience Grade Level: High School | Audience Experience Level: Beginner

If you opt to participate in a morning and an afternoon pre-con, lunch is provided. Registration for the conference opens on February 2 at
#StartsWithUs Campaign

What happens when high school students fight cyberbullying with cyber-allies… When they flood social media with messages of encouragement and appreciation for their peers? Eighty students from eight area high schools came together at CharacterPlus’ Character Goes Viral Student Summit on September 30. Over the course of the morning, the students consulted with the St. Charles City-County Library's social media specialist, and crafted the hashtag #StartsWithUs and the ClothesPin Challenge.

The campaign launched on October 16. Within 24 hours, the hashtag was trending sixth on Twitter in St. Louis with over 2,500 tweets. Within the past three months, messages have spread among middle and high school populations. Over 1,500 contributors on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook picked up on the campaign and it has traveled around the world, reaching two million social media users. The student teams have keep the momentum going with flash mobs, mix it up events, lessons and mini-campaigns. They surveyed their student populations in October and will survey again to assess the impact of their efforts.

Students were interviewed by sponsor Fox2 News/KPLR11 and then more in-depth on KPLR11’s Afternoons on 11 with Christine Buck. They were supported from the start by the St. Louis Rams, the sponsor of the Summit and defensive end Chris Long. The day of the launch, he took over the Rams social media and tweeted out to hundreds and has since continued messages on his own account. “As a big user of social media, I have experienced firsthand the benefits and negatives associated with social media,” Long said. “Through this campaign, our hope is that we can get people to think about using social media as a way to spread positive messages, while eliminating cyberbullying. It will be fun to see how far- reaching the #StartsWithUs movement can become and the impact it can have.”
This Bud’s for You…
Buddy Lessons that Build Belonging, Understanding and DOK

Buddy classes bring elementary students who are at least two grade levels apart together to learn and be there for each other. These special times increase academic knowledge and social-emotional skills when the lessons are well-designed. Our February 5 workshop, Strengthen your Buddy Lessons, explores lessons that meet standards within an atmosphere of fun, challenge and mentorship. Lessons in math, science and social studies share the stage with Buddy Booking and Buddy Mail.

Buddy programs are the cornerstone of a caring school community and perhaps the most effective antidote to peer bullying. As healthy relationships between pairs of students ---one mentor and one younger—are nurtured throughout the year, every child has an ally. Adults have a forum in which to coach their student in social-emotional skills. Respect becomes a meaningful and active part of the give and take between buddies. This is why the St. Louis Blues 14 Fund supports this work. The fund was created in 1998 to honor former Blues player Doug Wickenheiser who passed away after a long battle with cancer. The foundation focuses on cancer care, education and youth hockey development.

Click here for more information and to register.

Woodland Elementary School - Infusion Learning

Research shows that
engagement in the arts stimulates crucial avenues of the cognitive and emotional development of young children. At Woodland Elementary, a CharacterPlus Way school in the Jennings School District, teachers are taking to the halls!

Floor to ceiling murals and captions painted by art teacher Jeffrey Arnold illustrate characters and elements of popular children stories and classic books. Some lessons take place in the hallways in front of the murals, to connect the curriculum to art and to reinforce student learning. These activities also provide a frame of reference for students to make connections to learning at school, home and their community.

The CharacterPlus Way focuses on school culture and climate and a sense of belonging in schools. Students are able to view the entire school as a place of learning and we feel certain that students at Woodland are able to enjoy a positive climate. Kudos to the great educators making it happen!

Embrace Service Learning and Everyone is a Winner!

This is the fifth year that GCS Credit Union, the Gateway Grizzlies and CharacterPlus have sponsored the Home Run for Character Service Learning Recognition Program. Service Learning is an important part of a student’s life, research shows students who engage in service learning enhance their academic, leadership, empathy and citizenship skills. It is experiential learning which makes learning more relevant. It is integrated into the curriculum and promotes academic learning and moral development.

Through Home Run for Character, we will honor three schools who best exemplify authentic service learning from select Illinois counties. This is open to any PreK-12 school which has made academic connections to real community needs and has integrated student leadership and reflection. Winning schools will receive baseball tickets for the entire student body and staff members. The school will be honored with a banner presentation at the Gateway Grizzlies game. Schools who have won before are still eligible to apply. The application deadline is April 6.

Visit and go to the services tab for more information.

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