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Minnesota Schools of Character Program

The Schools of Character program offers a process for schools and districts to improve their efforts in effective character education by providing a research-based framework, self-assessment, professional feedback, resources, models of excellence and the opportunity for certification and recognition. 
Schools and districts can apply to be certified as a State or National School (District) of Character. Using the 11 Principles of Effective Character Education framework as a guide, applicants submit a self-assessment and portfolio that demonstrates how their character initiative had a positive effect on academic achievement, student behavior and school climate. Applicants receive professional feedback for growth and excellence in the area of character development. Those reaching a standard of excellence will be certified as a State or National School (District) of Character for 5 years. Certified schools and districts become part of a state and national network that serve as models and mentors to other educators. Synergy hosts a recognition ceremony annually to celebrate the achievement of Minnesota schools and districts in receiving this prestigious designation.
Why Apply?
In Schools of Character, teachers, administrators and staff work together with parents and community members to positively shape the social, emotional and character development of young people. In these schools, students feel safe, respected and connected to those around them, allowing them to thrive academically and socially. Schools of Character report:
Increase in test scores and academic improvement
Decline in disciplinary incidents and bullying
Higher attendance and graduation rates
Strong community and stakeholder engagement
Synergy & Leadership Exchange is the state sponsor and works in partnership with, the Schools of Character founder, to offer the program in Minnesota. Resources and assistance are available to support schools with their character initiative and application. Contact Barb Bergseth for more information.  
Preparing to Apply
Be sure to read the FAQs and guidelines before getting started on the application. Remember the application is extensive, so it is a good idea to get started early. The due date is in early December.

Synergy & Leadership Exchange celebrated the 2019 Minnesota School of Character and Promising Practices Award honorees at the Character Recognition Awards luncheon on May 23.

Minnesota Schools of Character
  • 2020 – Cologne Academy, Cologne; Waseca Jr. & Sr. High School, Waseca
  • 2019 – Community of Peace Academy, St. Paul
  • 2016 – Saint Mark’s Catholic School, St. Paul 
  • 2015 – Waseca Jr. & Sr. High, Waseca
  • 2014 – Community of Peace Academy, St. Paul
  • 2013 – Orono Public Schools, Orono
  • 2012 – Waseca High School, Waseca
  • 2011 – Lakes International Language Academy, Forest Lake
  • 2010 – Horace May Elementary School, Bemidji
  • 2010 - Lakes International Language Academy, Forest Lake
  • 2010 – Phalen Lake Hmong Studies Magnet School, St. Paul
  • 2009 – The Blake School, Hopkins
  • 2009 – Schumann Elementary School, Long Lake
  • 2008 – Orono Public School District, Long Lake
Minnesota District of Character 
  • 2013 – Orono Public Schools, Orono
Honorable Mention Minnesota Schools of Character
  • 2016 – Cologne Academy, Cologne
  • 2015 – Maple Grove Senior High, Maple Grove
  • 2015 – St. Mark's Catholic School, St. Paul
  • 2014 – Maple Grove Senior High, Maple Grove
  • 2011 – Waseca High School, Waseca
Honorable Mention Minnesota District of Character
  • 2017 – Duluth Edison Charter Schools
Emerging Minnesota Schools of Character
  • 2018 – Cottage Grove Middle School, Cottage Grove
  • 2010 – Bamber Valley Elementary School, Rochester
  • 2009 – Waseca High School, Waseca
  • 2009 – SAGE Academy Charter School, Brooklyn Park
  • 2008 – Trailview School, Mora
2019-2020 Schools of Character Program Dates:
Aug. 1, 2019
Application Opens
Dec. 6, 2019
Application Closes
Jan. 28, 2020
Minnesota Schools/Districts of Character Announced
Schools of Character Application Writing Support
Schools or districts that are planning to submit an application can get teamed up with a coach/mentor.
Trainings’s professional training focuses on the 11 Principles and school-wide systemic change.
Contact Tamra Nast at for more information.

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North Mankato, MN 56003
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