Schools of Character

Lori Soifer

Director of
Schools of Character

My character journey began on April 21, 1999, the day after Columbine. With three other moms, I started a Campaign for Safe Homes in my school district. Soon after, I was asked to join the district's strategic planning committee, and in 2000, fostering a culture of character became a district goal. I found my passion and was elected to my school board in 2005. During my 9 years as a Board of Education trustee, most of the schools in my district received their National Schools of Character certification. Shortly after I left the Board of Education, our school district was recognized as a National School District of Character. I have seen, firsthand, how this process positively impacts the lives of students, educators, families and school communities. I encourage you to learn more about becoming a School of Character.


We Congratulate 47 schools and 1 school district as our 2021 National Schools of Character

We also certified schools in Brazil and Mexico

Each of these schools has put into place a comprehensive approach that inspires their students to understand, care about and consistently practice a set of core values that will enable them to flourish in school,
in relationships, in the workplace, and as citizens.

These schools underwent a rigorous evaluation process to achieve their certification, documenting how they have implemented the standards articulated in's 11 Principles Framework for Schools. Based on decades of research on effective schools, the 11 Principles Framework serves as a guide for schools to plan, implement, assess, and sustain their comprehensive character development initiative.


What makes a School of Character? High school senior Taylor explains in this video.

Former Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice congratulates our
National Schools and Districts of Character.

All schools and districts certified as a
School of Character are recognized during's National Forum.

Our school was passionate about developing the collective character of our school community but unsure how to tie it all together in a cohesive manner. Once we learned about the 11 Principles Framework our efforts took off!
- Joe Duda, Middle School Principal

Benefits of becoming a
School of Character

More than 3 million educators, students, parents and community members across the country and internationally have been positively impacted by being involved with a School of Character. Over the years, school and community stakeholders have shared with us 3 significant benefits:

A palpable "ethic of caring" defines the school culture
Staff members use the word "family" to describe the culture of their school. Students perceive their teachers and staff as caring. Discipline reflects the positive relationships between the adults and students involved. Among staff, what begins as respectful relationships become caring attachments
between all members of the
school community.

A set of shared core values guides every aspect of the school
At the heart of each National School of Character is a set of shared "core values" that express and articulate what the school stands for. For example, at Woodbridge Elementary, the school staff strives every day to model the "Be the WE" creed that includes the character strengths of respect, kindness, acceptance, and service. Woodbridge teachers, staff, and parents describe their creed as the "beating heart" of the school.

The core values guide behaviors in the school, home, and community
Schools of Character foster in their students a commitment to be honest and trustworthy, to volunteer their time and talents to the common good, and when necessary, to show the courage to stand up for what is right. Teachers use service-learning to help students address "real world" issues. Schools of Character also offer students opportunities to take on leadership responsibilities related
to restorative practice, bully
resistance, academic integrity,
and sportsmanship.