Character Ed author, practitioner, school counselor presents full day workshop on character ed for new employees in FISD

Westwood Bales counselor, new author, character ed counselor and national character speaker, Barbara Gruener has a clear message she wants to extend to new employees in Friendswood ISD (and everywhere else she goes): My message to character educators everywhere is to find a way to connect with and make each child your favorite. “ And she practices what she preaches.

Gruener recently spoke to the 50+ new teachers in Friendswood ISD in a workshop on character.

“We spent our time steeped in stories and strategies to help our new-to-district teachers connect to create a climate of caring. We sang together, danced together, laughed together, and had fun growing together,” Gruener said.

Friendswood ISD Board of Trustees established a character education program for k-12 in 1987. It continues to grow each year and Gruener has established the popular program Six Pillars of Character that she shares with all counselors and teachers in the district.

“The Six-Pillar framework is the most widely-used character-development program in the nation, so most of our new employees had some level of familiarity with them. Using the acronym FAMILY, our presentation focused not only on the pillars, but on encouraging the development of Feelings, Appreciations, Movement, Integrity, Love, and Yearning in students,” Gruener said.

Dr. John Medina, author of Brain Rules, wrote, "Physical activity is cognitive candy" to encourage teachers to move their students.

“In fact, he suggests engaging students in meaningful movement every ten minutes. This can be a daunting task, especially at a time of high-stakes testing. But if we want to maximize learning, we’ll give their brains ample opportunities to spark during the day, and that will involve moving them, not only academically, but physically as well,” Gruener said..

Gruener was happy to have a day to work on character-development training and thankful to the district.

“It’s an incredible commitment on the district’s part to dedicate a day to character-development training so that our classrooms are a warm and welcoming place where tomorrow’s leaders can thrive, not only academically, but socially, emotionally, and physically as well,” Gruener said. “We welcome these new FISD family members and we wish them the best as they make footsteps worth following for our future leaders.”

As character coach for the campus and district, she was an integral part of Westwood Elementary being the state’s first School of Character. Then Gruener moved it up a notch and the campus won a National School of Character award.

Now Gruener has written her first book and through it, created a powerful handbook that defines positive character traits with a Superheroes approach.

What’s Under Your Cape? SUPERHEROES of the Character Kind offers ways students in classrooms can not only excel in academics but can also hit the top of character education. Gruener asks, “What kind of impact would they make on the world?”

Gruener gave 12 workshops {and promoted the book} in St. Louis at the Character Plus Conference , Milwaukee at the Character Education Partnership Conference, San Diego at the Character Matters Conference, Santa Barbara at Cleveland Elementary, San Antonio at the TCDA Conference, Somerset ISD, then to the Dallas area to McKinney ISD, Rockwall ISD, and Mansfield ISD.

Readers can get to know Gruener on a daily basis through her blog which can be poignant, vivacious, sentimental, uplifting, entertaining, thought provoking and more at