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Bright Move Network
Organization of Character

Bright Move Network promotes acceptance and inclusion of immigrants into the community and strives to prevent critical challenges that many immigrants and refugees face in adapting to their new culture.

Bright Move Network doesn’t stop at providing skills and resources for easy acclimation. They also provide services to youth through their Multi-cultural Youth Net Program which enable youth to make informed decisions. In 2006, Bright Move supported several services which reduced the vulnerability of youth to teen pregnancy, substance abuse and destructive behaviors. Bright Move also works to provide the skills and resources to immigrants and refugees so they are able to contribute civically and economically to their communities.

Aside from assisting immigrants and refugees, Bright Move also offers an opportunity for community members to work directly with newcomers, allowing them to learn about a culture other than their own, thus facilitating respect, empathy and community inclusion.

Havelock, Plover, Pocahontas & Rolfe

The communities of Havelock, Plover, Pocahontas and Rolfe began their character education efforts in 1998. These four communities and the school district wanted to join forces so that the “whole village” would assist in the development of successful children with good character. Since then, their CHARACTER COUNTS! committee has made an enormous impact in the Pocahontas area. Efforts range from including CC! quotes in the Optimist Club cookbooks, to creating a CC! billboard, to bringing in speakers to discuss character, leadership and success to community members.

Nominator Donna Seehusen says, “Because of our participation in CHARACTER COUNTS!, the Six Pillars are woven into day to day life in the communities and school.” The efforts of the CHARACTER COUNTS! committee has resulted in great character from the community. Local restaurants have donated meals to kids showing good character, the community participated in “respect days” as part of a character education day, local businesses partnered in safety presentations which taught self-reliance and provided safe youth activities, community members adopted more than 50 needy families during the holidays, the communities collected backpacks for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, and hosted a service project day for students to rake leaves, clean windows, and pick up litter.

Donna concludes, “Our community members never hesitate to give back to their communities. They willingly support causes and events that develop caring, responsible and productive citizens.”


Howe Elementary School
School of Character

Howe Elementary has a vision statement that exemplifies their commitment to being a School of Character: “By accepting one another for who we are, where we have been, and where we hope to travel, the Ogden Community Schools, in partnership with home and community, will strive to develop character traits in all its learners, which allow us to grow within ourselves as individuals, and as communities where all people feel valued and have the opportunity to become creative, productive, and responsible citizens.”

Nominator and school Principal, Rick Gustafson says, “Students demonstrate this vision through their every day behavior and special activities.” A few examples include providing donations for Hurricane Katrina relief, the American Cancer Society, and the American Diabetes foundation. Students and families have also sent care packages to military units stationed in Iraq, as well as sent 75 pairs of shoes to Afghani children.

Lessons involving the Six Pillars are incorporated into the daily routine. Additionally, as the principal monitors the hallways, he consistently acknowledges the Pillars he observes. If students are walking without an adult, he congratulates them on being trustworthy. If students are observed picking up garbage from the floor, they are acknowledged for being a good citizen. Also, students are challenged daily by the staff to be good citizens, be kind to one another, and to use words that build each other up.


South Winneshiek Elementary & Middle School
School of Character

South Winneshiek Elementary & Middle School is full of ‘Five Star Students’. The Six Pillars of Character support the school’s Five Star program by helping students remember the behavior and character that is expected. Principal Chuck Ehlers says, “Our school and staff work hard to provide our students with a variety of opportunities to demonstrate and model the Six Pillars of Character. I am proud of our students and support and encourage them to continue striving to be the best that they can be.”

Students are active in their community through fundraisers (Tsunami Relief, Hurricane Katrina, United Way and Dollars for Scholars) the D.A.R.E. program, working with the Senior Hospice, and cleaning four miles of highway through the Adopt-A-Highway Program, to name just a few.


University of Iowa Hawkeye Pride
Pursuing Victory With Honor

The Hawkeye Pride program is a powerful example of how student-athletes contribute to the community. Each week, a team of 4-6 University of Iowa student-athletes visit classrooms at Kirkwood and Roosevelt Elementary Schools in Iowa City. Together, students complete lessons and activities aimed to enhance the elementary students’ personal pride and interactions with others.

The student-athletes involved in Hawkeye Pride consistently make good choices. They realize that they arerole models for youth and the community. Each day, they leave the younger students with the message that honesty, integrity, determination, perseverance and respect are important. These college athletes are demonstrating that character counts both on and off the field. Parents often comment that having their children experience the richness of the Hawkeye Pride program has truly made a difference in their children’s lives, and the reputation of the Hawkeye Pride program and the student-athlete ambassadors has been exemplary in the community.


Variety – The Children’s Charity
ICD Partner of the Year

For over thirty years, Variety – The Children’s Charity of Iowa has raised millions of dollars to fund special needs children in our state. Fundraising events throughout the year culminate in the Variety Telethon, which is held each spring. Through the generous support of individuals and the corporate community, Variety has provided funding for capital projects, essential medical equipment and special programs to more than 300 organizations serving Iowa children. In addition, over 260 Sunshine Coaches are transporting kids all across the state.

With generous support from Variety, the ICD has become actively engaged with many organizations targeting at-risk youth. Variety funds have been used for CHARACTER COUNTS! trainings at Orchard Place, Boys and Girls Club, Wildwood Hills Ranch, Easter Seals, Four Oaks, Oakridge Neighborhood Services, Des Moines Public School’s FOCUS program, Inner City Urban Development and many at risk schools. The work done at Orchard Place to integrate CHARACTER COUNTS! into their programs has become a national model. Orchard Place reported a 60% reduction in negative behavioral incidents within living units and the highest staff retention they have seen in fifteen years, which they attribute to implementation of the ICD’s character development training. Thanks to Variety – The Children’s Charity of Iowa, the ICD can continue initiatives such as this one throughout Iowa.

Ruth Archibald
Citizen of Character

Ruth Archibald believes in giving back to her community one child at a time. Ruth is a treasured Foster Grandparent at Holy Family Inner-City Parochial School. She started volunteering there in 1995 and at 92 years old, continues to give 18-20 hours per week working with the Pre- Kindergarten children on readiness skills. She helps teach the children colors, shapes, letters and numbers. Nominator Karen Schechinger says, “Ruth believes that every child can learn if they have a caring adult to
encourage them, and she consistently praises them for what they have learned.”

Principal Tiffany O’Hare of Holy Family Inner City School shares this, “When Grandma Ruth comes into the room at the beginning of the day, she has to brace herself against the cupboards so that the children don’t knock her over by wanting hugs from her.” A teacher at Holy Family also says, “the children love working with her and cry when it is not their turn.”

“Ruth is an inspiration to me. She is quiet, easy-going, quick to laugh and has such a positive attitude”, Karen says. “She gives her time and talent to the community and has touched the hearts of so many children and adults. We are blessed to have people like Ruth who not only consistently model a person of character, but inspire the rest of us to try harder.”

Graettinger-Terril High School
School of Character

A Graettinger/Terril student says of their school, “It is my home, my family, my pride and where I begin my dreams.  Everyday in the morning I walk to my locker and I see at least one teacher that always has  a smile on his or her face.  I see upbeat attitudes spread throughout the school, which shows that my high school is positive.” The students, faculty and staff at Graettinger/Terril High School are proud of the school’s atmosphere, and they work hard to keep their school that way through use of the Six Pillars of Character.

Principal Pam Stangeland says, “When one walks into our school, the positive energy is pervasive.  Students are leaders in every sense of the word.  The staff and students have strong core values that are based on making good choices and developing excellent character.  Working with Positive Behavior Supports (PBS) our building expectations are stated as the ‘Knight Rights’:  Be in the right place, at the right time, with the right people, doing the right thing.  We recognize all students who make good choices by displaying their photo with a short summary of how they upheld the Knights Rights.”

Graettinger/Terril High is full of students who uphold the Knights Rights and help make their community a better place.  Students have volunteered to help area businesses, supported the Food Bank and Relay for Life.


Trent Grundmeyer
Administrator of Character

Trent Gundmeyer is in his first year as Principal at Hampton-Dumont High School. During his first year, he has already made great strides in bringing character education into his new school. He has implemented a character award to acknowledge students on a monthly basis. Additionally, students focus on one of the Six Pillars of Character during an advisory period each month. Nominator Angela Grundmeyer says, “He continues to strive for kids to expand their knowledge, but he also wants to make them good neighbors in our communities.”

Not only does Trent promote the Six Pillars of Character at his school, he tries to embody the Six Pillars though all of his actions. “One of the biggest things that Trent is known for is his loyalty,” Angela says. “He is very loyal to the school, staff and his family.” Trent also serves as a basketball referee and baseball official. In addition to striving to be a fair official, he always encourages the athletes to show good character on the court.

Angela adds, “People in the Hampton community and schools have put their trust in Trent to do what is right for the kids. He consistently collaborates with parents, teachers and students to make the school environment a great place to learn. He always finds the time to go above and beyond and gets things done as a school leader and manager. He consistently demonstrates the passion to be the best leader he can be.”

Nancy Kriener
Educator of Character

Nancy Kriener has been the school counselor at New Hampton Elementary since 1996 and is the “wind behind the sails of the New Hampton CHARACTER COUNTS! program since its inception,” says nominator Linda Kennedy.

Nancy is a champion of the student, making good choices for each, while always being mindful of the feelings and needs of the teachers. She always gives her honest opinion, one that is always in the best interest of the student. Nancy organizes several projects in her school, including a Christmas Giving Tree, sending home monthly CHARACTER COUNTS! parent newsletters, and coordinating activities for CHARACTER COUNTS! week.

Nancy is also a member of New Hampton’s CHARACTER COUNTS! Task Force. She chairs the Task Force’s “Living the Pillars” Committee. Each month, she and her committee come up with a project to fulfill a relevant need in their community. Efforts have included collecting pop tabs for the Ronald McDonald organization, assisting needy area families, and fundraising for Hurricane Katrina efforts.

Talia Leman
Citizen of Character

Talia is a sixth grader at The Academy in Des Moines. As the founder of the non-profit organization, RadomKid, an organization that “helps kids help others,” Talia has generated more than $330,000 for various causes and issues, including AIDS, cancer, rebuilding the gulf coast, homelessness and poverty. Talia demonstrates character in action! A few of the projects that she has taken on include handing out 4,000 UNICEF boxes, starting and running a recycling program at her school, creating a mini United Nations called “For Each Other”, and visiting residents at the Senior Life Center.

“Talia has to be simply the most remarkable child I have ever met,” says Anne Ginther, who nominated Talia. “She began her large scale community philanthropy work at age 10 when she rallied kids across the nation to unify their efforts for hurricane relief. She called her campaign ‘TLC’ which stood for “Trick or Treat for the Levee Catastrophe”. She won the support of Hy-Vee, who distributed 8.5 million trick or treat bags with her message on them. Due to her hard work, $250,000 was given to Hurricane relief in the name of TLC. ”

While many of Talia’s projects are to benefit the community, Anne believes that Talia’s character really shinesIn her personal relationships. “In her free time, she doesn’t watch television, play on the computer or talk onthe phone. She quietly focuses on her disabled brother, playing with him patiently. That is a choice she makes every day and I adore her for it” says Anne.

Doug & Donna McAninch
Character Champions

Doug and Donna McAninch have passionately supported the Institute for Character Development over the past several years. Not only have they provided corporate support for the organization, more importantly, they have each individually given a tremendous amount of time and effort to promote the Six Pillars of Character throughout Iowa.

Doug and Donna recently chaired a new Institute event, “An All-Star Evening” to benefit CHARACTER COUNTS! in Iowa. Through
reaching out to their personal and professional contacts, the McAninchs solicited a wide variety of auction items and sold many tables for the event. The success of this inaugural event can be attributed, in large part, to Doug and Donna’s dedication. Additionally, Doug & Donna helped establish the first “County of Character” in Dickenson County.

They spoke passionately about the Six Pillars to the residents of Dickenson County and the citizens united to begin the CHARACTER COUNTS! in Dickinson County project. In addition to work in Dickinson County, the McAninchs have supported educational workshops in Okoboji, Bettendorf, Spencer and a youth to youth session at Wildwood Hills Ranch.

Benjamin Nashleanas
Citizen of Character

Benjamin Nashleanas was nominated twice for a 2007 Iowa Character Award. He was nominated by Mary Daniels, the Hinton Elementary School Guidance Counselor and by neighbor, Beth Riley. Beth & Mary both site Benjamin’s work with “Lucky Leprechauns,” a program that Ben has implemented in the Hinton area. This program helps match up donations to area students in need. These needs can vary from clothing to homework supplies to books. Additionally, Ben has volunteered his time to work with the Lion’s Club, and various nursing homes. He is a “Big Brother”, he leads children’s workshop activities at his church, and is involved in the Paralympic program in Sioux City. Mary and Beth both highlight that not only is Ben very active in his volunteer work, he also maintains a part time job, participates in sports and is a member of the National Honor Society.

Beth says, “Ben is a role model that young people in our community can look up to.” Through his work with Big Brothers/Big Sisters, he has built a relationship with a 5th grade boy and strives to be a good role model for him. In conclusion, Mary says, “In all cases, Ben has integrated service to others with personal growth. He has done so without public recognition or reward.”

Joshua Perkins
Citizen of Character

Joshua Perkins is an eighth grader at Atlantic Middle School. He was nominated by his teacher, Jo Ann Runyan. “I think that Josh exemplifies the Six Pillars of Character,” Jo Ann says.

Josh and his brother, Orin, started a Neighborhood Watch program which provided information and opportunities for his neighbors to become better acquainted with each other and safety issues. Josh also volunteers his help
to his neighbors by assisting them with mowing their lawn, scooping sidewalks, picking up papers and helping carry groceries. Josh is a friend to everyone and both students and teachers like him. Jo Ann says, “Josh does not let a group of friends dictate his ideas and he is not afraid to stand up for what he feels is right.”

Since Josh has been involved in Boy Scouts and 4-H, he has accumulated more than one hundred hours of volunteer work in the Atlantic community. He has participated in highway clean-up, helped serve dinners at the Elks’ Lodge, helps younger kids in the “Little Trojan” wrestling program, and visited nursing homes.

Bernie Saggau
Robert D. Ray Pillar of Character Award

Mr. Bernie Saggau is a living legend to many Iowans because of his many contributions to our state. From
1963 until he retired in January 2005, he was the Executive Director of the Iowa High School Athletic Organization. Throughout his 37 year tenure, he traveled throughout Iowa encouraging students to work hard and live up to their potential. His philosophy was that all activities, whether athletics or fine arts, helped make Iowa kids better people.

As the culmination of his outstanding career, the IHSAA, under Bernie’s leadership, spearheaded an effort to build a facility that would pay tribute to education in Iowa – The Iowa Hall of Pride. The Hall of Pride showcases the achievements of all Iowans, from student athletes to sports legends, movie stars to scientists. The Hall honors past and present Iowa high school students involved in extracurricular activities including athletics, academics, and the arts. Interactive, handson exhibits tell the stories of Iowa heroes while teaching about the state and its history.

Jack Lashier, Director of the Hall of Pride, says, “The Hall of Pride is an amazing tribute to Iowa and Bernie was the person who had the vision to make it happen. This $13 million interactive attraction is now free to every K-12 Iowa student because Bernie was able to find a corporate sponsor that was willing to help every Iowa student come to the Hall of Pride at no cost to them. During his entire life Bernie has given so much to the citizens of Iowa and he has made our state a much better place to live.”

Institute Board Member Jim Hallihan says, “Bernie Saggau always put what was best for the athlete first in any decision he made. He also always promoted citizenship first over athletics and wanted young Iowans to benefit from participating in high school sports by becoming a quality person.” For his lifetime achievements and dedication to developing good character, citizenship and sportsmanship, The Institute for Character Development Board of Directors is honored to present a 2007 Robert D. Ray Pillar of Character Award to Bernie Saggau.

Naomi Wilson
Citizen of Character

Naomi Wilson is finding ways to contribute to her community every day. She has a very busy schedule that includes volunteering at the church nursery every Sunday, sewing quilts for the homeless, delivers sermon tapes to shut-ins, visiting elderly at nursing homes, providing transportation to church, doctors and grocery stores for those who cannot drive, helps those who are unable with cleaning, reading, and more. Naomi’s daughter, Kristy, says, “She will do whatever she can to assist anyone who has a need and help them through rough times.”

At 83 years old, Naomi has volunteered in the church nursery for more than 45 years. Nominator Jane Cruchelow says, “She plans her vacations around being home on Sunday mornings so that she can run the nursery.” Additionally, she is deeply committed to a quilting program. Naomi has completed more than 100 quilts a year for the homeless. If others were unable to continue participating in the program, she picked up the extra work, often working by herself. Jane concludes, “Naomi is a model citizen. If everyone were like Naomi, there would be no trouble in our world.”


August 21, 2020
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August 18, 2020