“We live more and more of our lives in the splendid isolation of the Internet with all the faux connectors like Facebook, Twitter, and the rest. Getting together is increasingly a rare and important privilege.” When I read these words by Nick Morgan, President of Public Words, Inc., I found myself nodding and thinking, “That is so true.”

Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate the convenience of e-mail and Facebook, too, but when I really want to learn something, it’s so much better face-to-face. Teachers know from their classrooms: students retain more information when it is delivered in multi-sensory environments.

I hope that’s how educators will view CEP’s upcoming conference, too—as a rare and important privilege. I know school budgets have been slashed just about everywhere, but educators still have the important mission of helping our students to become both smart and good. The 17th National Forum on Character Education is the place to learn effective ways to do just that.

When you can get away from the day-to-day business of school, you can focus, think, dream, and create. Bring your character education team to the Forum, and go home with a strong plan or a ton of new ideas and inspiration. We even have a team discount: register five people at the same time and the fifth person is free. See CEP’s website for even more ways to save.

I’ve talked to educators who are getting frequent flyer miles donated from their students’ parents or other community members. Another teacher told me her elementary school is collecting “pennies for character.” Whatever is collected will help one teacher to attend the conference. The lucky winner promises to take the school’s mascot along for some photo opp’s at the conference and in San Francisco (their school’s version of a traveling Flat Stanley). And the teacher will share the photos and some lessons from the conference upon return to school. We’d love to hear your stories of how you’re finding ways to finance your trip to the Forum.

Sometimes it takes a crisis like this economy to get people to focus on what is really important. And character education is really important. We need more ethical and compassionate citizens, not more Bernie Madoffs and greedy executives Enron.  Please join us at the Forum in San Francisco. Register by Sept. 27 and save with an early bird discount.