Each year, Character.org honors one individual for his or her long and steadfast commitment to the field of character education. The person so honored receives the prestigious “Sanford N. McDonnell Award for Lifetime Achievement in Character Education.”
This award is named in honor of Sandy McDonnell, who was the driving force behind the resurgent character education movement in America. He dedicated much of his adult life to improving our nation’s schools and developing good character in others, especially young people. Among other things, Sandy instituted a company-wide ethics program as CEO of McDonnell Douglas Aircraft, founded and led CHARACTERplus in St. Louis and served as National President of the Boy Scouts of America. He was also the founding Chairman and inspirational leader of Character.org (then known as Character Education Partnership or CEP) until his death in 2012.
2015 Award Recipient
Character.org chose Edward DeRoche, Director of the Character Development Center at the University of San Diego, to receive the 2015 Sanford N. McDonnell Award for Lifetime Achievement in Character Education.
Dr. DeRoche joined the University of San Diego’s School of Education as dean in 1979 and returned to the faculty as professor and director of the Center for Character Development Center in 1998. He has been an elementary and junior high school teacher, a principal, a member of a public school board of education, and has served on several private school boards.
He is the past president of the California Association of Teacher Educators, past vice president of the San Diego Council on Literacy, and a former member of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. He also served as a member of the National Commission on Character Education for the Association of Teacher Educators.
2014 Award Recipient
Kristin Danielson Fink, a national voice in gaining support for character education and current Utah State University faculty member, received the 2014 Sanford N. McDonnell Award for Lifetime Achievement in Character Education.
Ms. Fink has been a leader of America’s character education movement for more than two decades. She has served and made remarkable differences at the local, state and national levels. Character.org Board Chairman, Dr. Charles Haynes, said, “No one has done more to advance the cause of character education in schools than Kristie Fink. Widely admired for her dedication, leadership and caring heart, she also embodies the ideals of Sanford N. McDonnell, for whom this national lifetime achievement award is named.
2013 Award Recipient
Dr. Maurice Elias
An internationally recognized authority on character education and social-emotional learning (SEL). He has presented on the topics throughout the U.S., Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, and he is scheduled to be one of the keynote speakers at the Forum. His books and publications number in the hundreds, and one book, Emotionally Intelligent Parenting, has been translated into nine languages. Dr. Elias’ blog on Edutopia is read by hundreds of thousands of educators worldwide.
“But the most important role that he doesn’t even realize he fills in life is a mentor and coach for those considered to be the ‘younger generation’ within the Social-Emotional Character Development (SECD) field,” said Donna Snyder, manager of ASCD’s Whole Child Programs, and one of the educators who nominated Dr. Elias for the award. Read press release >>
2012 Award Recipient
Dr. Jacques Benninga
Sept. 5, 2012, Washington, DC –Character.org has chosen Dr. Jacques Benninga to receive the 2012 Sanford N. McDonnell Award for Lifetime Achievement in Character Education. Dr. Benninga is Professor and Director of the Bonner Center for Character Education and Citizenship at California State University, Fresno.
Press release continued
“For more than 25 years, Dr. Benninga has been a major force in promoting quality character education in California and beyond,” said Mark Hyatt, past Character.org President & CEO. “His 1991 book, Moral, Character & Civic Education in Elementary School, helped launch today’s character education movement.” He has also written approximately 40 journal articles on character education and sustainability.
This annual award is named in honor of Sanford N. McDonnell, Chairman Emeritus of the McDonnell Douglas Corporation and Character.org. It is Character.org’s highest honor. The recipient of the “Sandy Award” is an individual who, over a significant period of time, has been an outstanding role model of good character and has also met one or more of the following criteria:
- Strong and widely influential advocacy of quality character education.
- Outstanding contributions that have broad impact on any or all of the domains in which character development takes place (school, family, community and sports)
- Being a friend and supporter of character education by mentoring character education leaders or supporting the field philanthropically.
Dr. Benninga will receive the award on Nov. 2 in Washington, DC, during the 2012 National Forum on Character Education, before an audience of more than 800 educators from across the country.
“To my knowledge, no one else has done research illuminating the factors that enable schools to sustain quality character education once they achieve it,” said Dr. Marvin Berkowitz, endowed professor of character education at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and a former “Sandy Award” winner.
Dr. Benninga joined Dr. Berkowitz in pioneering research on the relationship between character education and academic achievement. Their review of the literature on this question and the results of their own study showed a positive relationship between academic achievement and the implementation of certain principles from Character.org’s 11 Principles of Effective Character Education. Their study in 120 California elementary schools showed that deeper character education correlates with higher state test scores for at least three years. This study continues to offer answers to people who ask, “Does character have an academic payoff?”
At the Bonner Center for Character Education and Citizenship, Dr. Benninga and his colleagues have done groundbreaking work to create professional development opportunities and materials that enable teachers to reflect together on the practical ethical dilemmas they face in their work with students.
“All of us at Character.org applaud the committee’s selection for this year’s lifetime achievement award, named in honor of our founding chairman and inspirational leader, Sandy McDonnell,” Hyatt said. “In addition to being an author, widely-respected scholar, teacher and researcher, and genuine thought leader in our field, Jacques is a humble and quiet professional who has done remarkable work for many years without fanfare or attention. His support for countless school leaders throughout California and the rest of the nation has helped them to create school cultures that foster and reinforce honesty, respect, diligence, responsibility, service and citizenship.”
Previous Sandy Award Winners
- 2011 Dr. Sheldon Berman
- 2010 Linda McKay
- 2009 Kathy Beland
- 2008 Dr. Avis Glaze
- 2007 Dr. Philip Vincent
- 2006 Dr. Marvin Berkowitz
- 2005 Dr. Hal Urban
- 2004 Dr. Diane Berreth
- 2003 Dr. Eric Schaps
- 2002 Sir John Marks Templeton
- 2001 Dr. Thomas Lickona
- 2000 Dr. Kevin Ryan
- 1999 Sanford N. McDonnell
- 1998 Dr. Edward Wynne
The Sandy Award is sponsored by Learning for Life.