Podcast S1. Ep.14: Helping Students Dream Big, Invest More Deeply, & Love Courageously - Erin Jones

Erin Jones has been involved in and around schools for the past 26 years. She has taught in a variety of environments, from predominantly Black to predominantly White to some of the most diverse communities in the nation. Erin received an award as the Most Innovative Foreign Language Teacher in 2007, in 2008 was the Washington State Milken Educator of the Year. She also received recognition at the White House in March of 2013 as a "Champion of Change” and was Washington State PTA’s “Outstanding Educator” in 2015. After serving as a classroom teacher and instructional coach, Erin worked as an executive for two State Superintendents. Erin ran as a candidate for State Superintendent and was the first Black woman to run for any state office in Washington state, a race she lost by a mere 1%. She and her husband of 25 years have a daughter who recently graduated from Central Washington University, a son who is a senior at Harvey Mudd College and one who coaches high school football with husband, James, who is a high school teacher in North Thurston School District.

We talk with Erin about the work that she is doing with students and educators of all ages as she invites people into the conversation of building community thru her message of Dream, Invest, & Love.

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Podcast S1. Ep.13: Calling A School-Wide Press Conference - Brandon Bakke

Brandon Bakke has spent the last 23 year in education, a career that has has spanned five different high schools in two different states. He taught history, government and coached basketball for the first seven years before becoming an assistant principal for 15 years in Tacoma and Sumner WA. Brandon is currently in his first year as Principal of Fife High School in Washington State.

We talk with Brandon about starting out as a new principal and the unique way that he began his time at Fife High School serving his staff and students as well as a unique idea he brought to promoting his school wide culture and climate.

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Podcast S1. Ep.12: The Importance Of Laying A Good Foundation For The Students & Staff At Your School - Lauren Ambeau

Lauren Ambeau is the principal at Brookside Intermediate in Clear Creek ISD, former elementary school principal, strong advocate for increasing SEL in secondary schools, and passionate about servant leadership. She was the Clear Creek ISD Secondary Principal of the year in 2016-2017 and shares her journey of school transformation in her blog titled Vulnerable Leadership.

We talk with Lauren about some intentional strategies that she uses to lay a strong foundation for the staff & students at her school.

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Podcast S1. Ep.11: Our Schools Need More Hope, Meaning, And Purpose - David Geurin

David is the Principal of Bolivar HS Liberators a National Blue Ribbon School in Bolivar Missouri. He is a National Digital Principal of the Year, a Speaker and Author of #FutureDriven - Will your students thrive in an unpredictable world?

We talk with David about how we all need to feel hope, meaning and purpose in what we are doing.

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Podcast S1. Ep.10: Character Is More Important Than Compliance - David Geurin

David is the Principal of Bolivar HS Liberators a National Blue Ribbon School in Bolivar Missouri. He is a National Digital Principal of the Year, a Speaker and Author of #FutureDriven - Will your students thrive in an unpredictable world?

We talk with David about how character is more important than compliance. So many schools are so focused on compliance, we want students to learn to do the right things, for the right reasons, not just because someone else told them to.

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Podcast S1. Ep.9: Soft Skills: Valuable For Our Future - David Geurin

David is the Principal of Bolivar HS Liberators a National Blue Ribbon School in Bolivar Missouri. He is a National Digital Principal of the Year, a Speaker and Author of #FutureDriven - Will your students thrive in an unpredictable world?

We talk with David about why non-academic “soft skills” are so important as they support the academic skills of students. David speaks on how these human-only traits are becoming even more valuable as technology becomes more integrated in our lives.

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The CharacterStrong Podcast

Written By: John Norlin

We are excited to announce that April 1st we launched the CharacterStrong Podcast, where each week we will be having conversations on School Culture and Leadership. We are firm believers that we need to be reminded more than we need to be taught and our goal is that each week we will provide you reminders from amazing educators and thought leaders around the country who are doing amazing work to create safe, positive, and caring cultures.

What makes the CharacterStrong Podcast unique is that each episode is approximately 10 minutes in length. We know that busy educators and leaders don’t always have 20-40 minutes to listen in to a longer podcast, so we want to provide this content to you in short, bite-size episodes so that you can listen on your way to or from work, or even while planning for your next class. You might even call it the CharacterStrong Commute!

We hope that you find the CharacterStrong Podcast a useful ongoing resource that will provide practical strategies and ideas that you can immediately put into action in your daily work or that push you professionally and personally to be even more intentional and impactful. We would love it if you would give it a listen! On iTunes we would be grateful if you subscribe, rate, review, and download a few episodes -- that’s what impacts where we sit on the charts! You can find The CS Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and Google Play.

After you listen, let us know if there is someone you think we should interview on the show or if you have an awesome idea or strategy to share connected to school culture and climate, social-emotional learning, character development, or leadership.

Podcast S1. Ep.8: Being Intentional About Developing Character And Leadership - David Geurin

David is the Principal of Bolivar HS Liberators a National Blue Ribbon School in Bolivar Missouri. He is a National Digital Principal of the Year, a Speaker and Author of #FutureDriven - Will your students thrive in an unpredictable world?

We talk with David about the roles that non-academic factors play in the future success of students. Change is happening so fast in today’s world and it’s important to help students to be able to develop “human only factors”.

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Podcast S1. Ep.7: Relationships Are The Foundation Of Everything We Do As Educators - David Geurin

David is the Principal of Bolivar HS Liberators a National Blue Ribbon School in Bolivar Missouri. He is a National Digital Principal of the Year, a Speaker and Author of #FutureDriven - Will your students thrive in an unpredictable world?

We talk with David about how relationships are the foundation of everything educators do, and gives some tips on how to be intentional about building better relationships.

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Podcast S1. Ep.6: 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.

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Podcast S1. Ep.5: Essential Truths For Teachers - 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.


We talk with Danny about his book Essential Truths For Teachers, how he helps teachers connect with students, and how he champions for the teachers at his school.

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Podcast S1. Ep.1: Welcome To The CharacterStrong Podcast!

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.

We sit down with CharacterStrong co-founders John Norlin & Houston Kraft as they talk about what the CharacterStrong podcast is all about and how CharacterStrong got its start. 

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