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News: Medal of Honor Presentation

Medal of Honor Presentation

Ed DeRoche addresses seminar attendees

Ed DeRoche addresses seminar attendees

We had our own July 4th celebration when the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation’s staff and two experienced California teachers provided pre-conference seminar attendees with a one-day training program. They focused on “lessons of personal bravery and self-sacrifice” as “a teaching resource designed by teachers to provide students with opportunities to explore” virtues such as courage, patriotism, commitment, integrity, sacrifice, and citizenship.

Forty attendees were thrilled to meet, in person, Jay Vargas, a Medal of Honor recipient, and receive the Foundation’s excellent and comprehensive instructional kit of resources, lessons, DVDs and black-line masters.

I want to share some representative observations from attendees, which I have edited.

I really felt a connection to the importance of service to others and how character truly counts; it was powerful and meaningful.

Learning about the value of character education has made me determined to add

Jay Vargas, Vietnam Veteran and Medal of Honor Recipient

Jay Vargas, Vietnam Veteran and Medal of Honor Recipient

character education into my classroom’s curriculum. Our nation was founded on the values that exist in service and this should not be forgotten. I feel very humbled to know about several Medal of Honor recipients and their stories, and that they were willing to open up, and at moments be vulnerable in order to share the love, selflessness, respect, and determination that have for their country and friends.

I found the vignettes to be informative and thought provoking: perfect material for my future world history classroom. Beyond the reminders of the costs of war, the seminar encouraged me to reflect on the importance of service to others. I believe that this is truly an important life perspective to cultivate in our students and ourselves.

One of the important things I took from this program, which I think is a good lesson for students also, is that you don’t necessarily need to be special to do something great. The message that I kept getting from the different men in the videos was that they did not think they did anything great or deserved all this attention and honor, they were just doing what they thought was the right thing to do. This is a powerful message because I think it can encourage students to choose to create values and beliefs of what is right.

From this seminar, one thing that I learned and found special was that I went home with a new meaning and awareness of what it means to be selfless and to sacrifice.As an elementary school teacher, I feel that this program would be extremely beneficial especially to the upper grades (i.e. grades 4-6) because it teaches students about the greater good and serving others before oneself. Learning about these qualities that the Medal of Honor recipients possess allows for thought provoking discussions and sharing of experiences.

Character education is something that I am extremely passionate about and will be intertwined throughout all aspects of my future classroom community. In certain classroom environments (potentially upper-elementary through high school), the Medal of Honor Curriculum would be a fabulous way to integrate character education with the study of wartime history.

The seminar provided an opportunity for me to reflect on the character traits of commitment, courage, sacrifice, patriotism, citizenship, and integrity as a person and educator.

As I see it, teachers should use the MOH resources and virtues/traits as a framework to introduce students to the characteristics and stories of heroes and heroines in many fields and professions. Teachers might retain the “medal” theme offering students units and lessons about the “Presidential Medal of Freedom,” the “Presidential Citizens Medal,” the “Liberty Medal” and the “Nobel Peace Prize,” to name a few.

What we are really talking about here is offering young people positive role models that may influence them in their studies, their relations, their behaviors, and their careers.

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:

News: 2012 Character Matters Essay Contest Winners

Thank you to all the participants and congratulations to all the winners!

Elementary School

1st Place: People are Like Puzzles
By Eitan Breziner, Grade 5
Teacher: Hagit Cohen-Hamo
San Diego Jewish Academy

2nd Place: Friendship Matters
By Rachel Ownbey, Grade 4
Teacher: Cindy Canfield
Berry Elementary

3rd Place: Character Matters to Me
By Maria Ines Acosta, Grade 5
Teacher: April Henry
St. Therese Academy

Middle School

1st Place: 1,825 DAYS
By Ana Laura Castro, Grade 8
Teacher: Juan Escamilla
Nestor Language Academy Charter School

2nd Place: Third Time’s A Charm
By Noah Packard, Grade 7
Teacher: Kim Pittner
Coronado Middle School

3rd Place: The Clown Death March
By Kimberly Strater, Grade 7
Teacher: Michele Gallo
Oak Valley Middle School

High School

1st Place: Character Matters
Jackeline Recinos, Grade 9
Teacher: Erika Heinzman
Kearny High Complex S1B

2nd Place: Character
By Adam Motiwala, Grade 12
Teacher: Sumaiyah Vedder
National University Academy

3rd Place: My Inspiration
Megan Davey, Grade 10
Teacher: Cynthia Hedges
Point Loma High School