I have known David Wangaard, the director of The School for Ethical Education since the mid-90's, and have found him to be a very thoughtful and articulate spokesperson for the character and ethical education movement. I invited David twice to provide professional development to teachers I was working with on a grant project, and his presentations were outstanding and very helpful. The School for Ethical Education has a long history of developing high quality materials, professional development, resources and support to schools to help them integrate ethics into their broader curriculum. I often mention The Golden Compass to teachers as an outstanding publication that can help them teach their students a process for ethical decision-making and the importance for all of us in developing a golden compass to guide us in life. I highly recommend The School for Ethical Education to any teacher, school or district interested in integrating character education into their basic school program and school improvement process.
I was introduced to David Wangaard through the Greater Valley Leadership Program in 2010. David's presentation on Ethics was outstanding and a valuable component to our collective leadership development. David's style kept the class engaged and proved to be one our most interesting sessions.
The School for Ethical Education (SEE) has been an active participant in the Connecticut Assets Network since 1998. During this time, SEE has sponsored a variety of Character Education workshops, conferences, contests and awards for youth and the adults who work with them throughout the state of Connecticut (see pictures below). Early on, SEE’s multi-day state conferences were often youth-driven and demonstrated character education programs from around the state. It’s only drawback is that it doesn’t have enough staff and funding to bring its programs and expertise to every school in the state. SEE’s greatest assets are its many programs which include:
1. Youth: Ethics in Service (YES) helps Connecticut educators and youth in grades 2-12 implement meaningful service-learning projects. The goal of YES is to promote academic achievement, critical thinking, character development and civic engagement through the teaching strategy of service-learning. Service-learning is different from community service in that it involves a deliberate inclusion of academic curriculum and reflection before, during, and after service. Under this initiative, the School for Ethical Education began a youth philanthropy board in January 2004 as a project supported by its Learn and Serve grant and support from the Connecticut Assets Network. The goal of the youth philanthropy board is to provide high school students the training and experience to successfully distribute mini-grants in support of service-learning projects in New Haven County. Ten students were recruited from seven high schools in New Haven County. The students met twice a month and learned about youth philanthropy in support of service-learning. The group's goal was to create a Request for Proposal (RFP) that could be disseminated to New Haven County schools in the fall of 2004. The board named itself Student Activists for Service-Learning and identified leadership roles to help guide their activities.
2. The Laws of Life Essay: The Laws of Life essay program offers a great opportunity for students in grades 5–12 to think, reflect, discuss with peers and adults and then write about their core values, principles and ideals that will guide them throughout their lives. Laws of Life is a student writing and character development project that supports writing practice for CT Mastery and CAPT testing.
3. Curricula Development: the director of SEE, David Wangaard, Ph.D. has developed curricula to support their Character Education Programs. Some examples are:
a. Service Learning Workbook: this workbook is intended to help youth and their adult leaders plan and implement service-learning projects. This comprehensive resource, Service-Learning: Planning and Reflection, A Step-by-Step Guide (Character Development Publishing), is directed at youth in grades 4 through 12 and their teachers or adult leaders in schools or in after-school programs.
b. Integrity Works! is a program that promotes academic integrity to reduce cheating and plagiarism in secondary schools. SEE provides guidance for schools to form an Academic Integrity Committee (AIC) with the goal of authoring, implementing and evaluating a strategic plan promoting academic integrity. Integrity Works! has its own Academic Motivation and Integrity Survey (AMIS) for research-based student survey measurement.
c. The Golden Compass: the activities and skills taught through application of The Golden Compass workbook provide a compass needle that always points to alternatives in support of positive character. Teachers and students learn a character-based decision making strategy and are provided 56 dilemmas to help students practice the Golden Compass strategy.