Sold Out For The Kids

I wasn't even going to go to that National School of Character Open House at North Pointe Elementary yesterday because I've been there before, three times to conduct workshops, once as a site visitor and then in November when they brought home the CEP banner from the National Forum in DC.

That was a special celebration!

I attended that day to bring congratulations from our NSOC to theirs 
and to dance the Six Pillar Shuffle with them.

Click the picture to read all about it.

But late this week I made a last-minute, executive decision that, because I have an intern who would totally benefit from attending and networking at their NSOC Open House, I simply had to attend.

And, sure enough, I was blessed beyond belief

The sixty participants were treated to the most amazing morning. We started in the monthly Character Connection community meeting, then moved to the library for an overview and agenda, to look at our maps and to enjoy some time to reflect. At 9:00, we broke into a six-session, two-hour block of pure bliss. 
Our chance to watch and see, to learn and grow. 
From the best in the business.
A school family that is clearly sold out for the kids.
I sent my intern with Angela, a counselor and friend from a neighboring district, and I moved from session to session enjoying the blessing by the fruits of our labor. You see, the character momentum was fueled when their Principal Kelly Mooney and their Counselor Jennifer McCaffrey joined us at the Westwood Elementary NSOC Open House at this time five years ago in 2009. I am at once honored and humbled to have been a part in this school's glorious journey.

I started in the Coffee Chat with the Principal, then I took a solo session to simply roam the halls, look at their vibrant visual displays, followed by the Character Cruise session led by my colleague and friend, Jennifer. I was bursting with pride at the way this young counselor has taken seeds I've planted and cultivated them to positively impact her faculty, staff, students, and families. I took a water break that's worth mentioning because it was a passing period, and I got caught at the bubbler while a class passed by. One student saw that I was waiting, and she stopped the line and invited me to go through to get back to my classroom. On her own. Because that's how they treat others at this  model school. 

I attended a session on the CEP's Eleven Principles, a session on Morning Meeting, and visited a random classroom where students recognized me from their celebration last fall and were eager to tell me about their blogging adventures. I was intrigued when they broke into small groups and began by working on their secret group handshakes.

Before I knew it, it was time for a yummy working lunch and the closing. I sat by my intern and listened as she eagerly shared all that she'd taken in and experienced. After we heard from the fifth-grade Leadership Team, it was time for a Q & A with a student panel. I decided to play devil's advocate and ask this question: Aren't fourth and fifth graders too cool 
for all of this character stuff?

It was while students were answering my question, that I got emotionally overwhelmed and started to cry.
Yep, big crocodile tears. 
Of pride. 
Of joy. 
Of hope.

This fifth-grade girl told the participants in no uncertain terms that they were not too cool, that, in fact, kindergarteners "get so ecstatic" to be able to sing with the big kids. We do it for them, she told us. Another student added that it's important because "we're building our reputation." And a fifth-grade boy said that they might be the oldest now, but next year in sixth, it'll be like they're "back in kindergarten as the youngest." 

Their message? You're never too old to be a character kid. And that doesn't happen by chance. That happens when you're committed to raising future leaders founded by character values. It's because you're hiring for character and a climate of caring is your top priority.

And, as we were leaving and thanking administrators for the morning, Kelly handed my intern a hardcover copy of the Kathryn Otoshi's One from her Principal's Book Of The Month club and wished her well, evidence that they're walking the talk and always seizing opportunities to pay it forward.

Thank you, NPE, for inviting us to experience what being
 sold out for the kids looks like, sounds like, and feels like.

You have truly captured my heart.


  1. Oh my gosh! I just love that you asked that question to the older kids! I have been asking the same type of questions to my older kids at lunch bunch sessions, and getting the same amazing answers. (I've got to get the older ones more invested in my Character Crusade....) Aren't kids great! And, in your amazing words, "Do we have a great job, or what?!"

  2. Now you made ME cry! What a wonderful model of character building... Wish you could bring them with you when you visit California... Your pride (and JOY) in this situation makes it apparent that you, too, are willing to "walk the talk." What a blessing...

    Finding JOY in 6th Grade


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