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The CharacterStrong Podcast

The CharacterStrong Podcast: Weekly conversations for anyone in education. CharacterStrong is an organization that provides curricula and trainings for schools internationally. Our trainings help educators infuse character and social-emotional learning into the daily fabric of any classroom or campus. Our curricula focus on character development in order to help students cultivate social-emotional skills, their emotional intelligence, and help them develop a stronger identity and purpose in school and in the world.For more information visit our website: characterstrong.com

Weekly hand curated podcast episodes for learning

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Permission To Feel: Emotions Matter - Dr. Marc Brackett

Marc Brackett, Ph.D., is the Founder and Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and a Professor in the Child Study Center of Yale University. He is the lead developer of RULER, an evidence-based approach to social and emotional learning that has been adopted by nearly 2,000 pre-K through high schools across the United States and in other countries. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). As a researcher for over 20 years, Brackett has focused on the role of emotions and emotional intelligence in learning, decision making, creativity, relationships, health, and performance. He has published 125 scholarly articles and received numerous awards and accolades for his work in this area. Learn more at: marcbrackett.com


3 Oct 2019

Rank #1

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3 Leadership Takeaways - CS Co-Founder John Norlin

Houston sits down with CharacterStrong Co-Founder John Norlin and they talk about the Top 3 things students identified every year as most important to their learning in his 10 years as a leadership teacher. 


5 Mar 2019

Rank #2

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TOPICS: School Culture & Climate - John & Houston

John & Houston have some fun and talk about the first thing that comes to mind on different School Culture & Climate topics.  Topics: Hallways, Cafeteria, Custodian, Spirit Swag, Funniest speech moment.


6 Mar 2019

Rank #3

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World Kindness Day! - CharacterStrong Co-Founders John Norlin & Houston Kraft

Happy World Kindness Day! John Norlin is a Co-Founder of CharacterStrong, a Servant Leadership trainer, and motivational speaker. He was Washington Advisor of the Year, taught 5 leadership classes per semester for 10 years at Sumner High School, and was a Program Administrator for the Whole Child for five years. Houston Kraft is a Co-Founder of CharacterStrong, a professional speaker, leadership consultant, and kindness advocate who speaks to middle schools, high schools, colleges, and businesses nationally. He has spoken at over 500 events and counting. Student Body President in High School, Class President at Bowdoin College, Leadership Camp Staff for 12 years in Washington - he is a lifelong learner of character, culture, kindness, and leadership.


13 Nov 2019

Rank #4

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Meaningful Inclusion Can Lead To Lasting Friendships #choosetoinclude - Odessa High School Students

As the recipient of Special Olympics Missouri’s 2018 School of Character Award of Merit, Odessa High School values kindness and meaningful inclusion. The school with just over 600 students is in a rural community approximately 30 miles east of Kansas City. Following a year of using Character Strong resources in their student-led lessons in freshman classes, the school is in its first year of school-wide implementation of the Character Strong Advisory Curriculum. The school’s student council is recognized as an Honor Council by the Missouri Association of Student Councils. The senior student council members featured on the podcast include President Keiton Johnson and Vice President Makenzie Lewis along with Tyler Hepworth and Lyndsey Roseler. Tyler and Lyndsey are a Special Olympics unified pair who recently represented Character Strong at the Inclusive Youth Leadership Summit held in Chicago. The school utilizes unified pairs to teach Character Strong lessons to freshman classes. The group is active on social media. Follow them @odessar7_stuco on Instagram and Twitter.


23 Dec 2019

Rank #5

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Being Intentional In The Everyday Things We Do - Justin Pierce

Justin has been a teacher, coach and assistant principal for the last 12 years in SW Washington. He is blessed to have married his best friend who challenges and supports him, has birthed their 3 boys, and is his partner in life. Justin believes teachers are the ones that make the magic happen in school buildings and that relationships are the key to their influence in the lives of our children. Justin’s mission is to create a Non-Anxious environment where his family, friends, and colleagues feel valued, loved, supported and challenged. He believes in the CharacterStrong Curricula and its use of low burden high impact tools to cultivate a culture of character, develop social-emotional skills, and challenge students, staff, and the community to make kindness normal.


12 Dec 2019

Rank #6

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Essential Truths For Principals - Danny Steele

Danny Steele is in his 26th year of education, and this school year marks his fifth year as the principal of Thompson Sixth Grade Center in the Alabaster City School System, just south of Birmingham, Alabama.  Prior to this position, he served as a high school principal, as an assistant principal, and as a teacher and coach. He has written two books with Todd Whitaker which were released last month. (Essential Truths for Teachers and Essential Truths for Principals)  In the fall, Steele will begin teaching full time at the University of Montevallo in the department of Instructional Leadership. He resides with his wife and three children in Birmingham, Alabama.


29 Mar 2019

Rank #7

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Making a Difference in Our Schools Starts in the Classroom - Jonathan Alsheimer

Jonathan Alsheimer is a teacher from “The” Fred Lynn Middle School, Speaker, and author of the upcoming book “Next Level Teaching” published by Dave Burgess Consulting - All about how teachers can make a profound impact on the culture and climate of their classroom and school! We talk about how making a difference at school starts in the classroom, three characteristics of a great teacher, and how we can re-engage the fire and passion for education.


5 Sep 2019

Rank #8

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Leading The Culture & Climate Of Your School - Dr. Bill Ziegler

Dr. Bill Ziegler is the principal at Pottsgrove High School in Pennsylvania. He has served as a school leader for twenty years at the middle and high school levels and is the co-author of a Corwin book, Future-Focused Leaders: Relate, Innovate, and Invigorate for Real Educational Change. Dr. Ziegler serves on the NASSP Board of Directors and the Apple Distinguished Schools Advisory Board. Dr. Ziegler was honored to be selected as the 2016 Pennsylvania Principal of the Year, the 2015 NASSP Digital Principal Award Winner, and as a member of the United States team of Principals to present at the Great Leaders Summit in China. Bill has also served as the President of the PA Principals Association on two separate occasions, 2014 and 2016. Dr. Ziegler is an adjunct professor for Temple University, and served on the rewrite team for NASSP's Building Ranks framework for schools. Bill resides in PA with his wife Kim and two children.


4 Nov 2019

Rank #9

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Soft Skills Are The New Hard Skills - Jon Harper

Jon Harper is the host of My Bad and the co-host of Teachers’ Aid. He has had the chance to interview and learn from over 150 of the top minds in education and psychology. For over 20 years Jon has worked in education. He spent 10 years in the classroom teaching 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th grade, during which time he earned National Board Certification. Jon was also a math coach for 3 years. For the past ten years he has been an assistant principal. He is currently the assistant principal at New Directions Learning Academy, an alternative school for students in grades 3-12. Jon has spent the past 23 years laughing, crying and celebrating with teachers. He knows what they go through each day and he is on a mission to help make their days better.


20 Jan 2020

Rank #10

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Equity Work In The Classroom - Vincent Perez

Vincent Perez currently leads Rethink Manhood, working with men and boys to deconstruct and counter, cultural narratives regarding what it means to be a "real" man. Vincent's practice is rooted in experiential education with a focus on culturally responsive pedagogy, trauma-informed systems, juvenile justice reform, ethnic studies, family engagement, near-peer mentorship and Latina bilingual leadership. He frequently speaks at schools, facilitates student programs and trains adult staff to better serve their students. As a 20+ year veteran in education, Vincent Perez aims to sustain the integrity, courage, and commitment of children, families, and service providers.


6 Jan 2020

Rank #11

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Mindfulness: The Ability To Be 100 Percent Present - Trish Brown

Trish Brown is the Counseling Department Chairperson & 9th Grade Counselor at Mercy High School, as well as a Therapist for Better Help in Farmington Hills, Michigan. She is a wife, a mother, an Executive Officer for the PTA at her daughter's elementary school, and a lover of yoga.


13 Jan 2020

Rank #12

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The Classroom Temperature Check - Bryan Slater

Bryan Slater is an experienced classroom teacher and has spent the last 15 years teaching high school Social Studies in Tacoma, WA, Lagos, Nigeria, and Sumner, WA. He currently teaches IB 20th Century Topics and Theory of Knowledge to 9-12th graders at Sumner High School. We talk with Bryan about how he uses a weekly temperature check to get a pulse on how his students are doing. Bryan shares how this low burden, high impact strategy has influenced his teaching practice and helped him connect relationally with his students while also infusing social emotional learning like empathy throughout his classes.


6 May 2019

Rank #13

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The Importance of the School Counselor in Today's Schools - Katherine Pastor

Katherine is the American School Counselor’s Association 2016 National School Counselor of the Year. Katherine began serving as the Flagstaff High School (FHS) Counseling Department Chair in the 2008 and Student Government Advisor in 2012. Through a data-driven, comprehensive school counseling program, Katherine and her team have received both state and national recognition. Katherine joined the American School Counselors Association (ASCA) board of directors in 2017 and is an adjunct faculty member at Northern Arizona University’s College of Education where she teaches the next generation of school counselors. We talk with Katherine about the important role that school counselors have in our schools, and she shares some ways school counselors can be used more effectively.


26 Aug 2019

Rank #14

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It's Your Character Not Mine - Bryan Slater

Bryan Slater is an experienced classroom teacher and has spent the last 15 years teaching high school Social Studies in Tacoma, WA, Lagos, Nigeria, and Sumner, WA. He currently teaches IB 20th Century Topics and Theory of Knowledge to 9-12th graders at Sumner High School. We talk with Bryan about the paradigm shift that he has had surrounding the strategy of, “ It's Your Character Not Mine.” He shares how it can change the way that we see fault, take responsibility, and respond better in different situations as we go through the day.


27 May 2019

Rank #15

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Authentic Relationships And Intentional Connection - Jake Kelfer

Jake Kelfer is a lifestyle entrepreneur and life elevator. He is the bestselling author of Elevate Beyond and Elevate Your Network, a high-energy motivational speaker on a mission to inspire millions of people to achieve personal success and happiness. He is the founder of the Professional Basketball Combine which helps NBA draft prospects turn their dreams of playing pro basketball into their reality. He and his work have been featured on Forbes, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NBC Sports, USA Today, Bleacher Report and many other major media outlets. Connect with Jake on social @jakekelfer


9 Jan 2020

Rank #16

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The Caring Game - Character in Athletics With Coach Scott Westering Part 5/5

Scott Westering is the son of Hall of Fame Coach Frosty Westering. He had the privilege of coaching with and being mentored by his father for 23 years as an assistant at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma Washington.  Scott was the Head Coach at PLU for 14 seasons, taking over the position from his father who retired after 32 years. Over the last 20+ years Scott has been a highly sought after speaker, having presented to hundreds of teams, coaches, and athletes. His talks have spanned corporations, conferences, and clinics - including USA Football and two Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony speeches. We finish up this five part series with the final piece of the Attitude Games: the Caring Game. Scott talks about: the importance of character when it comes to our attitude, strength in serving, and the secret ingredient of great teams - they care about the success of each other.


24 May 2019

Rank #17

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Identifying And Reducing Cognitive Overload - Dr. Todd Finley

Todd Blake Finley, PhD, is a tenured Professor of English Education at East Carolina University and an assistant editor and blogger at Edutopia: George Lucas Education Foundation. He has taught elementary and 7-12th grade English and co-developed the Tar River Writing Project. Also, he was selected as one of the Top 12 Global Teacher Bloggers of 2014 and again in 2016 by Cathy Rubin for the Huffington Post. He has written Dinkytown Braves, a teaching memoir available on Amazon and Rethinking Classroom Design (Rowman & Littlefield) with Blake Wiggs. And he writes a free newsletter for educators.


28 Oct 2019

Rank #18

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Relationships Are The Foundation Of Everything That We Do - Dawn MacFarland

Dawn MacFarland has 20 years of service to military-connected students and families through DoDEA (Department of Defense Education Activity). She began her teaching career in Tucson, Arizona, and has since taught in London, England, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as well as Hanau and Stuttgart, Germany. Ms. MacFarland teaches language arts and humanities, and her lifelong commitment is dedicated to educating the whole child—mind and heart. Ms. MacFarland’s career is cultivated by a mindset that looks beyond typical markers of student success and dives deeper into areas of long-term student development and growth. Her entire concept of teaching revolves around the idea that in education, as in life, leaders need to build relationships, and create climates of security, in order to get the best out of the communities they serve. Ms. MacFarland was a finalist for DoDEA 2020 State Teacher of the Year, and she is the 2020 Europe East Teacher of the Year.


12 Mar 2020

Rank #19

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Supporting the Whole Child: Preparing for College, Careers, & Life - Dr. Marci Shepard

Dr. Shepard is the Superintendent of the Orting School District. She has been an educator for over 20 years. Dr. Shepard is also a recognized leader in education, presenting at national and state conferences, serving on state boards and committees, and teaching for the Educational Leadership program at Western Washington University. We talk with Dr. Sheppard about the changes that they have made in her district to better align what they do with their overarching goal of preparing each student in the Orting School District for College, Careers, and Life.


9 May 2019

Rank #20