SALT LAKE CITY – Western Governors University’s (WGU) Teachers College has created two new online character education professional development pathways for principals and teachers. With a focus on bringing character education programming to K–12 buildings and classrooms, the microcredentials will prepare and support educators in fostering a school culture that celebrates and cultivates shared core values by teachers and students, including civility and integrity.
“Now more than ever, we recognize what an important role character education can play in schools across the nation,” said Dr. Mark David Milliron, WGU Senior Vice President and Executive Dean of the Teachers College. “Through these new microcredentials, next-generation educators will be better equipped to model and instill core values such as humility, compassion, and personal growth in and out of their classrooms, which will ultimately have a positive impact in the communities they call home."
According to case studies published on the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Science’s website, over a four-year period, researchers measured several outcomes in five school districts in rural, urban, and suburban areas initiating or enhancing character education programs. Based on student, teacher, and administrator surveys, there was a noticeable improvement in character-related behavior in students. In certain districts, suspension and drop-out rates also decreased after the implementation of the programs.
As announced last fall, the WGU character education professional learning (CEPL) program is part of the Teachers College’s Character Education for a Better Society (CEBS) project, which is supported by a $4.8 million grant from The Kern Family Foundation. The overarching goal of the project is to develop a proven framework at WGU for an online, competency-based professional development program that supports educational leaders in building transformative and sustained cultures of character in K–12 schools.
The character education microcredentials are part of a year-long Character Education Professional Learning program for education leaders (CEPL-E)—namely principals and similar executive administrators—which starts with a two-day Summer Institute, to be held virtually July 13–14, 2021. WGU’s Teachers College is offering this CEPL-E program free to 100 principals, with quarterly half-day convenings, ending in June 2022. Through this program, principals will reflect on virtue ethics and character to envision a school culture that values teachers and students of character, and will have access to an engaging online community of peers and character education experts.
To help them fully integrate character education into their schools, the principals will select one-to-three teachers from their staffs to earn four microcredentials in the Character Education Professional Learning (CEPL-T) program, at a total cost of $250 per teacher. Collectively, these microcredentials are designed as a self-service program for teachers to complete at their own pace, guided by the milestones set by their principals who are going through the CEPL-E program.
Principals who are interested in enrolling or learning more information about the Teachers College’s character education microcredentials can visit wgu.edu/cebs.
To learn more about WGU’s Teachers College and its academic programs, visit wgu.edu/online-teaching-degrees.