I have been working with high-needs, at-risk kids for three years in our school's
Student Support Center (a.k.a. detention room).

During this time I have seen it all, but our main problems are disrespect and

I have tried everything from handing out consequences (detentions, in-school and
out-of-school suspensions) to positive reinforcement when they do something
(anything!) good.

It helps them to realize that they can make their own choices about how to act, react,
and who they want to be.

In many cases our students don't have a choice...they don't have the choice of
where they live, how many people live in their house, whether or not their parents
will be home, whether they will have heat or water or electricity in their house, they
don't even have the choice of whether they get to eat or not...but they do have the
choice of who they want to be and how they want to act.

The impact has been phenomenal. I have seen a decline in
referrals, from approximately 10 a day to around 3, and the
number of fights and acts of physical aggression have been cut
in half.

Also, beginning next year, I will be implementing a Character Education class and I
plan on using the 10 Pillars Of Character Education and the lesson plans on the
web site. All of this is due to Making Positive Choices and the great effects it has
had on our school.

On another note I would like to say what a truly amazing person Dave Carey is. He
was super-helpful with everything, from getting the posters to me in just a few days
to working with me on getting the payment sent. What a wonderful world it would be
if everyone was as kind and helpful as Dave. Thank you, a million times thank you! I
will be in touch before next school year to get some more stuff.

Heather Halldorson
Dean of Students, Clear Lake Middle School
Denver, Colorado


The banners and posters are exactly what we needed to remind students of their
behavior. We used the small size banner (posters 2x15) to give to individual
students to put in their lockers, reminding them each day: "I Am Who I Choose To
The character education posters support our behavior and respect themes
throughout the halls at Coon Rapids Middle school.

Dr. Mary Fonken-Holden, Assistant Principal
Coon Rapids Middle School
Coon Rapids, Minnesota


I thought it was a wonderful program. I followed the guide to an extent but also
added my own lessons to these. We had some great discussions and being a
Language Arts teacher I also had them do some writing on this. They did a timed
writing on discussing which pillar was the most important to them as an individual
even though they knew they all worked together, and why they felt that way.

We finished the lesson on Wednesday and yesterday, to tie it all together, as a fun
project, they did a personal collage that indicated who they are, and what they are all
about. They had a great time doing this project and really got into the project.

"I was thrilled and also a little surprised at how cooperative the students were, and
how they spoke honestly when discussing the pillars, especially the last part about
tolerance and appreciating our differences. They shared some very profound
thoughts, and we all worked as a group. It was great."

Thank you for giving us this wonderful opportunity to help instill or firmly set the fine
core values the students need to be successful. I have the look at the new lesson
plans, but found even what we originally had to work with very helpful to get going
and then I could get creative from that point. Here are two things you might want to
share with others which I used for the parts on tolerance and appreciating the
differences in others.

“When the last thing we notice is the color of the skin, and the first thing we look for
is the beauty within ... we shall be free” Garth Brooks from his album “The Chase”.

Then I read this poem by an Indianapolis high school student and submitted by
Marian Wright Edelman, President of the Children’s Defense Fund (this was also
perfect timing because we were working on our poetry unit at the time so I could
incorporate that as well.

The Cold Within

Six humans trapped by happenstance and bleak and bitter cold;
Each possessed a stick of wood, or so the story’s told.

Their dying fire in need of logs, the first man held his back,
For of the faces round the fire, he noticed one was black.

Then next man looking ‘cross the way saw one not of his church,
And couldn’t bring himself to give the fire his stick of birch.

The third one sat in tattered clothes; she gave her coat a hitch.
Why she her log be put to use to warm the idle rich?

The rich man just sat back and thought of the wealth he had in store,
And how to keep what he had earned from the lazy, shiftless poor.

The black woman’s face bespoke revenge as the fire passed from her sight.
All she saw in her stick of wood was the chance to spite the white.

The last person of this forlorn group did naught accept nor gain.
Giving only to those who gave was how he played the game.

Their logs held tight in death’s still hand was proof of human sin.
They didn’t die from cold without,

They died from the cold within.

These were extremely helpful and really hit home about discrimination not being
limited to only one particular thing.
It was the perfect lead-in to a great discussion on appreciating everyone as a
special individual. It was the crowning glory to program and was very well received. I
wanted to share these with you.
Maybe you want to post them on the site for others to use, or maybe it is additional
food for thought. But the program was great and I would like to use this every year.


Sabine E. Lyons
6th Grade Language Arts
Max Bruner Jr. Middle School
(850) 833-3266 x. 1007


We are so excited about introducing your program to our students. They are talking
about it with their friends and teachers and are quick to remind each other that the
choices made each day are ultimately their own.

Teachers are displaying posters in the classrooms and there are large banners in
the cafeteria and gym. Our students can go little distance without being reminded of
their right to choose, each day, their own path.

I'm also excited to learn of the lesson plan page. It will be interesting to see what
other educators are doing to promote the idea in their schools.

I am attaching a copy of the lesson plan we used to introduce "I Am Who I Choose
To Be" in our advisor-advisee program and some pictures of our students during
their discussions of what this phrase means to each of them.

I would like to thank you on behalf of our faculty and student body for creating a
program with a simple mantra and deep, far reaching potential. Please keep us
informed on developing ideas.

Cindy Wiley
Oak Mountain High School
Birmingham, Alabama


The "I AM WHO I CHOOSE TO BE" pennants grace the classrooms and halls of our
elementary, middle and high schools in Fairfax County, Virginia.

Over 150 schools used the signs to celebrate National Career Development
Month's theme: Imagine the Possibilities. Internal motivation - connecting who I am
with what I do - is a key to student achievement.

The pennant message prompted dialogue among all the stakeholders in student
success-students, parents, teachers, school counselors and business and
community members.

The important message of "I am who I choose to be" is similar to a college pennant
so it also promotes the goal of a college education.

Nancy Donnelly

Devonshire Career Center
Falls Church, Virginia


I have the posters in the front of the classroom. We had a great discussion
surrounding the content, and why I would bring these into the room. I also have the
“I am who I choose to be” posters in my office.

I am the vice principal and I refer to them often when going through problem solving
with kids, always referring to the choices they have made that have brought them to
the situation…

Jasmin Marshman
Vice Principal
Grief Point Elementary
Powell River, British Columbia


I thought you might be interested in how we are making use of the poster set(s) we
recently ordered and received, "The Top Ten Pillars of Character Education".

Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School is currently using the PLC
(Professional Learning Community) model to create a more effective and positive
learning atmosphere, both for staff and for students.

As part of the community, each staff member belongs to a committee. The
committee to which I belong is "Developing Social Responsibility", and the posters
fit in perfectly with our objective.

We are having the posters mounted and laminated with a two inch black border and
they will be permanently fixed to the walls where students gather.

Our school is undergoing extensive renovations and our goal is to use the positive
statements in the set to remind students that respect of each other as well as the
space will go a long way in making the school a better place to learn.

I hope this information helps. The website was useful, friendly, and the service has
been great.


Sherry Ainscough
Student Records Office
Alberta, Canada
Some letters we've received from
Copyright © 2003-2011 Making Positive Choices
Student Retention * Work Ethic * Self ownership * Core Values * Tolerance * Lesson Plans
"Change must come from within the individual..."