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2023 International Forum Videos

Character: The Science-Backed Solution to Our Mental Health Crisis

Tools and strategies to improve well-being

Our young people are experiencing a mental health crisis due to a variety of factors. In her keynote, renowned psychologist Dr. Michele Borba will  share the science-based tools and strategies educators and families can use to equip young people with the resiliency and character strengths that all of us need during the inevitable storms of life.

Dr. Michele Borba is an internationally renowned educational psychologist, award-winning author and Today show contributor who has spoken to over one million participants on five continents about child development issues. She blends 40 years of teaching and consulting experience with the latest science, giving realistic advice to parents, educators, and child advocates about strengthening children’s resilience, social-emotional intelligence and character, and reducing peer cruelty. Borba is the award-winning author of 25 books translated into 30 languages. Titles include: ThriversDon’t Give Me That Attitude!Building Moral IntelligenceEnd Peer Cruelty, Build Empathy, and UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World.

Character Can Change The World

The Power of Real-Life Stories to Help Students Practice Kindness and Gratitude

During the pandemic, Steve Hartman from the iconic CBS News series “On The Road” began a new series called “Kindness 101.” Together with his children, Steve shares stories around character-inspired themes and how ordinary people are doing extraordinary acts and changing lives. Steve will give a keynote at our Forum on how to join thousands of teachers around the country who are using his videos to inspire students to build connections, and how through a ripple effect, create a more caring and compassionate world.

Steve Hartman has been a CBS correspondent since 1998 and is known for creating moving stories about ordinary people doing extraordinary things in his weekly feature “On The Road.” Hartman‘s stories are often used in schools by thousands of teachers for lessons on empathy, honesty, fortitude, courage, etc. In addition, with the help of his children (Meryl and Emmett), Hartman has produced “Kindness 101” segments on these themes for CBS Mornings. Steve has proved the adage, “Everybody has a story” and has won numerous broadcast journalism awards, including an Alfred I. DuPont Columbia University Award, four National Emmy awards, and 14 RTNDA/Edward R. Murrow awards, including a record 11 citations for best writing.

Cracking The Intrinsic Motivation Code

5 Insights To Help Students Discover Their Moral Compass

Dr. Elias will explore how to shape positive student behaviors by fostering their sense of purpose. He will also discuss the evidence-informed approaches and practices that encourage students to set goals for themselves, to think about their own thinking, as well as tools to help students assess and strengthen their own character. This highly-interactive keynote will draw on many of the key indicators highlighted in Principle 7 of our 11 Principles Framework for Schools.

Maurice J. Elias, Ph.D. is a professor in the Psychology Department at Rutgers University, director of the Rutgers Social-Emotional and Character Development Lab, and codirector of the Academy for SEL in Schools. He received our “Sandy Award” in 2013 for his sustained and significant impact to the field of character development and education. He has written Emotionally Intelligent ParentingTalking Treasure: Stories to Help Build Emotional Intelligence and Resilience in Young Children, and The Joys & Oys of Parenting .


5 Life-Saving Phrases Every Human Needs to Hear

Combining humor, authenticity, heart, and soul, international speaker Joe Beckman shares five specific phrases he believes all humans need to hear…especially today. The result is a refreshing, authentic, and down-to-earth approach to finding self-worth (Love YOU), resilience (Push Through), confidence (Fail On), joy (Yeah Toast!), and maybe most importantly, human connection (Just Look Up).

  Joe Beckman is co-founder of TILL360 Consulting, and his mission is to reclaim human connection in school communities
throughout the world. Beckman has shared his infectious energy, human, and passion in over 2,500 schools and has positively
impacted over 2 million people. He authored the 2020 book Just Look Up, is a proud husband and a proud father of three.

The Choosing Love Mindset:

Thriving, Not Just Surviving

This session provides practices and implementation ideas for the Choose Love principles that will empower you to thrive physically, mentally, and emotionally. Participants will discover the importance of essential life skills taught through the Movement’s no cost, comprehensive, lifespan, next generation Character Social Emotional Development programs. These programs, for all ages, teach individuals how to “choose love” in any circumstance and how to thoughtfully respond with love in all situations, circumstances, and interactions.

Scarlett Lewis founded the nonprofit Choose Love Movement after her son was killed in the Sandy Hook tragedy. She created Choose Love for Schools and other solutions that empower educators and students to use the Choose Love Formula in any situation. Choose Love’s programming has been accessed in over 10,500 schools in all 50 states and over 120 countries.

Using Core Values to Address Race, Ethnic, and Cultural Gaps in School Climate

Any difficulty addressing cultural differences in your building? Any problems connecting with diverse backgrounds? Does your data show misalignments within your populations? If so, what is your plan to help navigate these issues? These questions, and more, will be addressed during this session that gives educators tips and strategies to address race, ethnic, and cultural gaps among students and staff. Participants will leave with a blueprint for leading difficult conversations and move forward together.

Dr. Antonio Cooper, Jr. has served as a behavior specialist, elementary school teacher, dean of students, assistant principal, principal, coordinator of student services, director of curriculum and instruction, consultant, motivational speaker, adjunct professor, and author. Throughout his career, Cooper has heralded the mission of helping young people become the best version of themselves and encouraging them to go out and achieve whatever they set their minds to

Practical Kindness:

Low-Burden Strategies to Increase Prosocial Behaviors

Presented by former Character.org keynote speaker and author of Deep Kindness, Houston Kraft will lead you through a series of practical exercises designed to increase empathy and create more consistent compassion that you can take back into any classroom or staff meeting. Leave with research-backed activity ideas and easy-to-implement educator tools to support your staff development.

Houston Kraft has spoken at over 600 schools or events internationally. In 2016, he co-founded CharacterStrong that currently serves 8500 schools across 50 states and 36 countries. In 2019, Kraft’s face was featured on Lays BBQ chip bags as someone who helps “spread smiles.” In 2020, his first book, Deep Kindness was published by Simon & Schuster.

Schools of Character Luncheon

Celebrate the National Schools of Character together for our 30th Anniversary party!