17th Annual Conference Announcement

The 17th Annual West Coast Character Matters Conference

Character Development Center
Department of Learning & Teaching
School of Leadership and Education Sciences
University of San Diego

Pre-conference Seminar
Medal of Honor: Lessons of Personal Bravery and Self-Sacrifice
Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Character Matters Conference
Wednesday and Thursday, June 26 & 27, 2013
Theme: Character Education is the Common Core for Educating Both Hearts and Minds

We value you as a character educator of children and young people. We value your time and talent and the choices you make to enhance your professional development.

Educators continue to choose our Character Matters Conference because they leave motivated and empowered with new knowledge, skills, and content that will increase academic achievement and enhance classroom climate and school culture. The conference is your opportunity to meet new people that you can add to your professional learning network.

Pre-conference Medal of Honor Seminar: June 25, 2013

The Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation Medal of Honor: Lessons of Personal Bravery and Self-Sacrifice

Purpose: To develop an understanding of the Medal of Honor material and how it can be used in your classroom and to share best practices using the specially prepared resources. Presented by two CMOH staff members.


Character Matters Conference: June 26 & 27, 2013

The Question: How do educators and community leaders foster and promote lessons for the mind and heart when teaching character traits and skills in our schools and community?

Presenters: A variety of teachers and counselors will share their ideas, suggestions, and experiences on why and how to implement character traits and skills in your school and classroom.

Featured Speaker: Dana Brown, Social Entrepreneur and Community & Youth Organizer
Heart-Based Language
Educating our Global Society Students
Through Common Core & Trauma-Informed Schools


  • Dr. Audrey Hokoda, SDSU, Child & Family Development
  • Rosa Ana Lozada, LCSW, CEO, Harmonium
  • Carol Prime, SDSU, Center for Critical Thinking & Creativity
  • Lynn Underwood, Executive Director, Commission on Gang Prevention & Intervention
  • Dr. Dorothy Zirkle, SDSU,Chair, Nursing and Public Health

Other Conference Presenters

  • Susan Schock –  Teacher with 42 years of experience including 16 years teaching first grade at Toler Elementary School, a California Distinguished School with a school-wide emphasis on character.  Fitting Character Education into Your Day –  Susan will share how she fits character education into her busy day. From literacy to read-aloud to social studies to classroom management, opportunities to add character to your day are there waiting for you. Participants will leave with easy, ready-to-use activities and tips they can put into practice in their own classrooms and schools.

Featured Speaker:

  • David Hanlon High School teacher and head of the Vista High School Character Leadership Program.  David will share best practice strategies for creating a comprehensive and effective character education program at your school site.
  • Leor Levin – Teacher, Wells Middle School, California State School of Character – Integrating Mindfulness  – Attendees will gain insight as active participants into the benefits of mindfulness, as well as how mindfulness can be integrated into the classroom throughout the day.
  • Molly Maloy – Elementary School Teacher, Specialist Certificate in Character Education – Bringing Character Alive in Your Classroom
                            • Using picture books to teach character within the context of theme (aligned to the Common Core standards)
                            • Character videos (with students choosing a character trait, writing a script, filming, and editing)
                            • Fostering a positive classroom environment
  • Jocbethem Tahapary – M.Ed. Counselor, Oak Valley Middle School, PUSD – PLUS Program –This session will describe the PLUS Program used in the Poway Unified School District. PLUS stands for Peer Leaders Uniting Students and the program offers students the opportunity to engage in conversations and interactive learning activities.


Character Matters Conference-ONLY Registration Fee:

  • $200 per individual
  • $125 per individual for schools sending two (2) or more educators
  • $75 for students with ID (non-credit)

Includes: Breakfast & Lunch –two days, two books, packet of 8×10 posters

One-Day Seminar ONLY – Medal of Honor Training Program Registration Fee:

  • $100 per individual
  • $100 for students with ID (non-credit)

Includes: Breakfast & Lunch, MOH instructional binder plus handouts (value= $120)


Seminar and Conference – 3 Days

  • $275 per individual
  • $250 per individual for schools sending two (2) or more educators
  • $150 for students with ID (non-credit)

Includes: Breakfast & Lunch –three days, MOH binder ((value = $120), two books and packet of 8×10 posters

Contact us for more information: character@sandiego.edu

Blog Post: Character and Academic Achievement

Character & Academic Achievement
By Ed DeRoche

Believe it or not, character education (including social-emotional programs) promotes academic achievement.

“I don’t believe it!” “How can you make such a statement?” “For such an outlandish statement you need to show me proof!”

The case is rather straightforward. When teachers – all school personnel for that matter – take the time and make the effort to nurture character development traits (values/virtues) such as respect, responsibility, self –discipline, caring/empathy, honesty, trust, and fairness, there is a “pay-off” academically, socially, and emotionally. Students, in all classrooms and in every school, need education and guidance regarding their behaviors, their attitudes, and their actions.

A few quotes from the research (without references as I want to limit this blog to about 600-words) will clearly suggest that character education instruction and academic achievement are related.

“A 2011 meta-analysis of school-based social and emotional learning programs, published in Child Development, found significant improvements in academic achievement, behavior, and attitudes compared with control groups.”

“[Our study] found that greater reliance on character education translated to higher state academic test scores. Additional positive results have been found within the closely related field of Social Emotional Learning.”

“[Researchers] performed a meta-analysis of 213 school-based, social and emotional learning programs involving 270,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Compared to control groups, SEL participants demonstrated significant improvement in social and emotional skills, attitudes, behavior, and academic performance.”

Russell J. Sojourner, Director of Leadership Development, Character Education Partnership writes: “Perhaps no case is more compelling than that of Ridgewood Middle School (Arnold, MO), which Charles Haynes and I reported in USA Today on February 20, 2007. Simply by transforming the horribly negative school culture of a failing school by using character education principles, they moved from state test scores with only 30% success in communication arts and 7% success in mathematics in 2000 to 68% in communication arts and 71% in mathematics.”

Here is one of my favorites because it introduces us to the emerging field of positive psychology. “We have found that students’ academic achievement is influenced by a set of character strengths. Among middle-school students, the character strengths of perseverance, love, gratitude, hope, and perspective predicts academic achievement. Similar results are found as well among college students.”

Here is another: “Youths’ social, emotional, and academic development are related, and promoting social and emotional development can lead to several desirable outcomes…an increase in positive student behavior and academic performance, and also a reduction in disruptive behavior and emotional distress.”

The Child Development Project (Oakland, CA), implemented in many elementary schools and written about in several research publications, demonstrated the “transfer effect” of their character education program. When compared to a control-group, students in CDP’s character education program were found to be more concerned for others, demonstrated more altruistic behavior, learned greater conflict resolution skills, had a greater liking for school and classes, and were more motivated to learn school subjects. Most important, however, “years later, students from the program’s schools were making greater academic progress relative to their peers….”

Regarding Paul Tough’s new book, How Children Succeed, J. Nocera (New York Times) says: “…tapping into a great deal of recent research, Tough writes that the most important things to develop in students are ‘non-cognitive skills’ which Tough labels as ‘character.’ Many of the people who have done the research or are running the programs that Tough admires have different ways of expressing those skills. But they are essentially character traits that are necessary to succeed not just in school, but in life.”

As we say and promote at this Center, CHARACTER MATTERS. It matters because helping children and youth develop positive character traits and skills is an important means of helping them become both smart and good, managing their emotions and behaviors, and becoming productive and contributing citizens.