Character-Related Acronyms

By Ed DeRoche

A friend of mine, a writer/lecturer on topics of leadership in business, sent me this “business model” asking if I thought it might be relevant and useful to P-12 educators “particularly those interested in the character development of children and youth.” 

In his research he came across this acronym: 

KASH – Knowledge, Abilities, Skills and Habits.  All four directly affect the performance of an individual as well as an organization.

Knowledge:  condition of being aware of something
Abilities:  feelings or emotions about someone or something
Skills:  physical ability to perform tasks
Habits:  repeated and consistent behavior

In previous blogs, we have discussed the nature of “character” and “character education” including knowledge (a compelling curriculum that puts character at the core), abilities (competencies and capabilities), skills (social and emotional), and habits (of the mind and heart).

This blog continues the acronym theme.  Let’s look at a few.  I will leave it to you to decide how best to use them in your school and classroom.


The Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence notes that there are five skills of emotional intelligence: 

Recognition of emotions
Understanding of emotions
Labeling emotions
Expression of emotions
Regulation of emotions

YCEI is quick to point out that RULER is not a program.  It is “an approach for infusing emotions into the DNA of a school…providing training to school administrators, teachers, staff, students, and families, helping them to understand and apply key lessons from the research.                                                                          

When regulating or managing emotions we discovered the use of another acronym, PRIME.

Prevented (e.g., frustration avoided)
Reduced (e.g., rage lessened to annoyance)
Initiated (e.g., happiness generated, feelings of optimism)
Maintained (e.g., pride preserved/self esteem increased)
Enhanced (e.g., joy increased to elation)

You have heard about the SMART acronym.  

SMART refers to goals as being [edited]:   

Specific:  Explicit and precise with no wiggle room when asking who, what, when, where, or why.

easurable:  Ways you can measure progress at any point along the way.

chievable:  Working toward your goal can either lead to satisfaction or it will lead to frustration.  How realistic it is to attain your goal?

elevant:  Do your goals really matter to you?  Are they relevant, worthwhile, timely?
Time-Bound:  Set deadlines.  Stay focused and prevent distractions.   

I asked myself this question:  Why is it important for teachers, students, and others in schools to develop and use SMART goals?  The answer: “According to educational research, educators who establish goals notice a significant improvement in their classrooms and their self-perception.” 


Did you know that many schools and school districts use “VAMP” to frame their character education programs?   VAMP is an acronym for the “Virtues – A – Month Program.”

VAMP helps all school personnel, students, and parents/guardians to focus on a specific virtue.    

VAMP encourages everyone to be on the same page in the teaching, learning, and practicing of a particular monthly virtue.  It does not mean the other “habits of the heart” (respect, empathy, perseverance, etc.) are ignored.  All virtues are interconnected. 

Many teachers and schools coupled the VAMP character education framework with an “events calendar.”  That is, how can and does a monthly calendar event (special day), being observed and celebrated, support the virtue of the month and other virtues.  

The Cobb County (Georgia) Character Education program is centered on a monthly virtue program; that is, over a four-week period the intent is to infuse a specific virtue into the total school environment, and the community. 

For example, for the month of September, the virtue is RESPECT. 

Another example of VAMP is one I noted in my June Blog.  The Kent City School District (OH) has teachers focus lessons on a particular character-related virtue each month of the school year.

September – Work Ethic and Responsibility 

October – Respect for Self and Others

November – Compassion

December – Self-Control

January – Tolerance

February – Trustworthiness

March – Cooperation

April – Respect for Community/Environment

May – Commitment/Dedication

June – Fairness/Justice  

Each virtue is followed by descriptors.  Here is September as an example.   

September – Work Ethic and Responsibility   

Students should: 

  • Attend to task; demonstrate persistence; show best effort. 
  • Be able to carry out a duty and be trustworthy.    
  • Exercise sound thinking and good judgment knowing that they are personally accountable for their actions.

Another example: The Core Virtues Foundation lays out a three-year plan.  Here are the virtues for the months of September and October.

  • September:  Respect—Responsibility
  • October:  Diligence—Self-Control—Self-Discipline—Perseverance

I don’t use social media.  I don’t text.  Phone calls and emails are my major contact methods.  However, I have been told that acronyms play an important part in social media communication.  So, I looked it up. 

BTW, you may AMA about the importance of character education.  IMO and IRL, character matters, and, AFAIK, most people agree. 

(By The Way, you may Ask Me Anything about the importance of character education.  In My Opinion and In Real Life, character matters, and As Far As I Know, most people agree.)

Ed DeRoche, Director, Character Education Resource Center
Department of Learning & Teaching, School of Leadership & Education Sciences University of San Diego
BLOG, August 2021 

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