“CharacterStrong was a training worth attending. It totally highlights what is needed and missing. The interactions with other participants was empowering and helped build relationships with each other. At the same time, the training gave me ideas of how to use these activities with students, staff, and parents to build relationships and character.”
Mary Vang, Clovis Unified School District, CA
“As a school psychologist, I love how the focus of the training was on RELATIONSHIPS and the importance building relationships has on creating a culture and climate where children (and staff) are SEEN.”
Jill Duran, Clovis High School, CA
“It’s so important for all of us to grow our character and help kids learn these values...the value of influence...and building trust and the tools to do that. This training has been great and is needed at the site level and throughout the district to make the culture changes that need to happen at the staff and student levels.”
“I have come across three programs in my 30+ year career in education that I knew were imperative for my districts. In the 1980s came TESA (Teacher Expectation Student Achievement), in the early 2000s we found Professional Learning Communities, and today it is CharacterStrong. My staff needed assistance in learning how to navigate social emotional learning in teaching to the whole child. CharacterStrong hit the mark.”
Bill Motsenbocker, Superintendent
“If we want our schools to be places where students and staff want to be, we must begin with the people in them. The CharacterStrong curriculum does that. CharacterStrong provides the plan, resources, training, and support to empower both students and staff to be more empathetic, more thoughtful, more kind and, in turn, more successful. This research-based program is intentional, practical, and powerful. With its Whole Child, whole school approach, CharacterStrong has the potential to transform your school. (Did I say the training is fun, the trainers engaging and authentic, and the program adaptable for a class, an advisory, a school, or a school district? It is.”
Terry Hamm, Director, Texas Association of Student Councils
"This has been the best training I have ever received, including doctoral course. When you speak of paradigm shifts, this is the perfect example. CharacterStrong applies what we know to be true in a way we can understand and apply it. It is not a gimmick aimed at making someone rich. It’s a movement trying to change a global community. We value what we make time for. Make time for a positive culture shift that focuses on relationships first. Focus on being CharacterStrong!"
Logan Lacy, Keller, TX
"What a wonderful experience. Houston and his assistant was right on demonstrating the power of collaboration and Social Emotion Learning connections. This training makes us pause and think wholeheartedly of the whole child. This training was engaging and educational. I look forward to the next one."
Sherman McCray, Dallas, TX
"The kindest training I've ever attended. I felt valued, was challenged and learned from my presenters and fellow colleagues in the training!"
Ginger Robbins, Dallas, TX
"Loved every minute...comfortable and uncomfortable. Made new friends and experienced the CharacterStrong climate first hand. This will make me a better teacher, wife, mom, and person."
Valayne May, Dallas, TX
“CharacterStrong was just the voice we needed in our 46,000 student school district! Clear Creek Independent School District adopted a set of Core Values several years ago that guide our decisions, actions and character, and we are deeply committed to the social and emotional well-being and safety of our students. Our work with Houston (and the CharacterStrong team) has been tremendously instrumental in providing our staff with not only the motivation to stay committed to this work, but the resources and ideas to bring it to life. Houston Kraft has facilitated learning at our What’s In Your Heart? Character Conference, and our district wide rally. In addition, he has worked with all of our intermediate teachers to support the use of the CharacterStrong curriculum…We absolutely love working with Houston. His energy, passion and love for all things kind is infectious! We look forward to a long partnership[.]”
Stephanie McBride | Executive Director for Professional Learning, Clear Creek ISD
I have been in education for over a quarter of a century and this is, hands down, the BEST training that I have ever been privileged to be a part of. There are so many components that teachers of every age and discipline can use in the classroom. It also is self-reflecting and not only makes someone a better teacher after attending but also a better person. This presentation allows for professional and more importantly personal growth. I recommend it for EVERYONE that is involved in education. Teachers, secretaries, custodians, cooks, IT department, bus drivers, coaches and administrators. VALUABLE BEYOND BELIEF!!!
Pam Roh - Wisconsin Educator
This training opens your eyes to the importance of relationships in the classroom and how to build those relationships. Character is something that we can change & need to make a habit and as educators to model as a teacher.
Rebecca Farnham - Seven Lakes High School
I am going to be honest when we started using CharacterStrong, I was very skeptical. I could not fully buy in, which made it hard for me to have my students buy in. Now that I have done this training there are many different things I want to implement into my classroom and school!
Lauren R. - Seven Lakes High School - Teacher
I think CharacterStrong is going to do great things for our school. The best part is that my teachers are taking ownership; I am simply supporting them. This training allows you to vulnerable and honest with yourself and your staff. Tough - but awesome experience for me as a principal to experience this with my teachers.
Ted Vierling - Seven Lakes High School, TX - Principal
Over my 11 years of teaching, I have seen an increasing need for something more in education. It is no longer enough just to teach our educational content, we need to educate the whole child and shape better human being. CharacterStrong is the best way of going about this, I have seen to date.
Ashley Griffith - East Valley High School, WA
I think it is extremely eye opening and as a previous student who took a leadership class from John but was not super involved in leadership after that semester I still saw the way these teachings affected the climate and culture at the school. And now in my own classroom and school especially as a new teacher I can see the way that the curriculum is starting to work it’s way into the children’s lives. I truly believe that keeping this going will positively impact our school and our district.
Makynzie Frost - Carmichael MS, WA
Character Strong is a transformational program that has made a huge impact in our school, and in my classroom. I have always felt like I had a focus on relationships with my students, but this program takes it to another level.
Dyan Woodward - Enterprise MS, WA
To any teacher that has been in the trenches, is a dedicated professional, who is all about the kids, CharacterStrong is for you! This program will transform YOU! and your teaching will be better.
Travis McClelland - Enterprise MS, WA
So much of education is based on testing, meeting standards, growth in those standards, graduation and we loose focus on what should be important. The training made me rethink the word "hope" and how this training can provide hope in so many different ways. Hope in the Servant Triangle, hope in a conscious choice to "be the good" as our school is using this year, and hope that the work that I am doing is for an organic and vital purpose.
Ariana Holliday - East Valley HS, WA
This training gives so much to take back to the classroom and school but also at home. Everyone would benefit from this training. Teachers, parapros, even janitors.
Becky Goodlake - East Valley HS, WA
Does your school culture need a booster shot of positivity and inspiration? Could you use help integrating Social and Emotional learning opportunities into your daily habits and routines? Do you crave those caring connections just like your students and stakeholders do? "Creating A Climate That Cares" to the rescue! Suit up and prepare to strengthen SEL skills as you engage and supercharge in this character-muscle workout. Break down those barriers that keep you doing what you've always done and feel your personal growth head in directions you never imagined possible. Savor every second of interactive, passionate learning opportunity to positively transform your character building for good!
Barbara Gruener - Bales Intermediate, TX
This is such a gold mine of strategy, tools, and the heart and purpose behind teaching leadership and the servant-leadership model. I valued every minute of the time today. I could keep listening, learning, and reflecting!
Dana Kuhn - Selah Intermediate, WA - 13 Years in Education
These servant-leadership workshops always inspire me and renew my energy as the school year quickly approaches. I know that this curriculum and these ideas help transform our students into amazing young people.
Sarah Erdmann - Aviation HS, WA - 13 Years in Education
Being able to teach Character Education to my students has been a career changer. Having an outlet to talk about character to my students has allowed me to relax and feel more confident that I am doing my part to teach my students to be well rounded citizens. All of the science and research shows that if kids do not feel loved or safe, that they will not learn. Knowing that my students have a time in their day to grow as leaders and mini humans has allowed me to focus more on my content area.
Chloe Ruffin - Newport Beach Middle School, OR - 1st Year Leadership Advisor
I am starting my 43rd year as an educator. Thirty of those years I have been an activity director and leadership class teacher at a large high school. My leadership class curriculum has been based mainly on projects and giving back to the school and I’m good at motivating students to do projects.
I didn’t think an “old dog” could learn new tricks until I brought John Norlin to my school to keynote a mid-year leadership summit. I always knew John had a different approach to teaching leadership but I already alluded to “old” and learning new approaches in my twilight years seemed questionable at best. It just so happened that one of my administrators attended John’s keynote and that got the ball rolling. My principal was convinced and brought John back to speak to about half our staff in June, which led to 15 of us attending the CharacterStrong workshop in August, then bringing John back to speak to the entire staff before school started. Meanwhile John had custom designed the CharacterStrong curriculum for our school to be taught in small 5 minute chunks during our extra five minute homeroom time allotment. And me, I was given an entire semester of day to day lessons in character development for my leadership classes.
Needless to say these character lessons have been transformative. I’ve been at this school for 38 years. I’ve never seen the staff this engaged with students and I believe the kids are more engaged with one another. Our mascot is the Bombers. Our students and staff are on the runway engines are revved-up and ready for take-off. It’s going to be an exciting journey.
Jim Qualheim - Richland High School, WA - 43 Years in Education
In 17 years at the middle level, I’ve never seen a more transformative curriculum that meets the whole child right where they’re at. It gives them purpose, value, and it allows them to learn about themselves in a healthy way. They navigate tough social waters as a middle schooler and the curriculum builds skills for students to use in all facets of their life.
Our climate and culture has dramatically improved as more and more students are exposed to the curriculum. Our students are more aware of interpersonal relational issues that may come up and feel empowered to support each other in a positive, healthy way. One side benefit of expanding the curriculum to the majority of our 8th graders is that our suspension rate has gone down over the years.
As an educator, my practice has been transformed. The curriculum not only will inspire and teach your children to improve their relationships, it will improve your relationships with your students, your families, and your friends. You will see that there’s no better way to live your life than that of a servant leader. It will never let you down. Modeling servant leadership in your building will build your influence as an educator and will allow you to make positive change at a systems level.
I was even able to get my very data driven principal to start encouraging our teachers to “serve” our kids. That slight language change has made our staff meetings much more student focused rather than teacher focused.
Sally Rusk - Inglewood Middle School, WA - 7 Year Leadership Advisor