by Barbara Gruener

Barbara GruenerIs anyone out there as excited about the upcoming CEP National Forum as I am? One of my very favorite things about October is the chance to connect with other character educators from around the US and beyond its borders. It’s been an annual booster shot for me since I first attended when the Conference was held in Houston back in 2004.

Our school, Westwood Elementary, was selected the inaugural Texas State School of Character in 2007 and then honored with the National School of Character distinction in 2009. What an invigorating time that was for our school family. But we didn’t stay atop that mountain for long. Shortly after our celebration, budget cuts meant we’d be merging with the 4th and 5th grade campus next door; we are now navigating a new normal as a preK-5 school family.

We also switched leaders, which put our program’s sustainability to the test. But things are moving in the right direction as we work with new family members to prepare our little leaders to take their place in the world as ‘value-able’ citizens. We continue to reach out and share our best practices with others as we go deeper in our character building. In fact, one of the schools we were able to mentor these past three years is being honored as a 2013 NSOC and we couldn’t be happier.

Many other good things have come my way on this character journey. I joined CEP as a site visitor and have had the pleasure of visiting incredible school families doing amazing things these past five years. I’ve also started blogging at The Corner On Character to share character-development ideas and stories that I’ve written or stumbled upon. To date there are nearly 700 posts, so feel free to visit if ever you need a character-infusion technique, activity, or strategy. I’ve also had the opportunity to speak nationally at the Forum, in MO for our Characterplus friends, in TN with the National Center for Youth Issues, and locally for the Texas Counseling Association’s annual conference. I’ve even delivered two keynotes.

This year my breakout session – Character Is Our Super Power – will be on Friday just before lunch. If you’d like to sing, dance, and laugh while we talk about meeting the social, emotional, and physical needs of our youngest super heroes, then this will be a good fit for you. Maybe their strength is empathy, because they understand what it’s like to switch places with people. Maybe kindness is their super power and they’re a first responder when help is needed. Perhaps they’re at their best at showing up, on time and ready to go, taking responsibility. Whatever it is, how do we harness that energy into our character force field and use those powers for good?

Have I piqued your curiosity? The Forum offers a wide variety of session options, inspirational keynote speakers, and an array of products on display that’ll support your efforts in character education. With everything they’ve got planned, I sure hope I can find time to reconnect with friends I’ve made at the Forum in previous years, like Lindsay from Canada, Phil from the Carolinas, Bonnie from New York, Jack from Tennessee, Pam from Dallas, and Raquel from Puerto Rico. The list could go on and on; will you be there, too?

Barbara Gruener
Session: Character Is Our Super Power
CEP National Forum Speaker
Friday, October 25