DR. marvin berkowitz
UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI PRESIDENT’S THOMAS JEFFERSON FELLOW AND Sanford N. McDonnell Endowed Professor of Character Education, Co-Director of the Center for Character and Citizenship
University of Missouri–St. Louis
Imagine what could happen if our educational system not only encouraged children to master their academic subject matter, but also helped them develop an inclination and ability to fulfill their dreams and contribute to society as people of character. Dr. Marvin Berkowitz has.
For four decades, Marvin has been on a journey to investigate and map the moral and ethical landscape of human decision-making, agency, and action. And as the holder of the nation’s sole endowed chair in character education, he’s not only designed that map but has vast experience navigating the territory. He’s pinpointed the potential pitfalls and high spots inherent to the process of building schools of character. He also knows that the best chance of getting young people to be ethical agents is to plot a route that encourages their intrinsic sense of goodness, models compassionate behavior, empowers them to take an active role in decision-making, and helps them to build healthy relationships.
Even better, Dr. B is a working person’s scholar—he has committed to helping WeBeSchools walk the best path for helping students and has encouraged us to embrace the blisters and stumbles that come with the journey.
Dr. Marvin Berkowitz earned his B.A. in Psychology from the State University of NY at Buffalo, and his Ph.D. in Life-span Developmental Psychology from Wayne State University. He served as a Research Associate at the Center for Moral Development and Education at Harvard University and was a visiting scholar in Canada, Germany, Switzerland, Scotland, Spain, and Taiwan. Dr. Berkowitz is a recognized expert, prolific author and editor, and recipient of countless awards in the field of character education and development. A true polymath, Dr. Berkowitz also co-founded ComedySportz, won best of show at the 1994 Milwaukee Festival of Ten Minute Plays, and was a two-time Missouri State Senior Division Soccer gold medalist. Find his full bio here.
Dr. Jennifer Bessolo
Principal, South Middle School
Gauging the health of a middle school's climate doesn’t require standardized testing. All you need to do is hangout in the front office for 30 minutes. Regardless of demographics, financial resources or physical space, you'll soon know that school's heart and culture.
We had more than a few opportunities to sit in Dr. Bessolo's Middle School front office and absorb the culture. We experienced interactions between students, teachers, counselors, staff, parents and district folk, all of which suggested an amazing Middle School heart. A compassionate Middle School soul. A proud Middle School community. It became apparent that Dr. Bessolo is a progressive administrator and a torch-bearer of tradition and historic continuity. A delicate balance WeBeSchools greatly respects.
Dr. Bessolo earned her Ed.D. in Education and Policy Leadership at the University of Kansas. She completed her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas (home of the landmark case, Brown vs. The Board of Education.) Dr. Bessolo is a Topeka “Top 20 Under 40” Finalist, the Vice President/President Elect of the Kansas Association of Middle School Administrators (KAMSA), serves on the Board of Directors of the Kansas Association of Middle Level Educators, is a Master Kolbe Education Consultant, and was a 2013-2014 KAMSA “Middle School of the Year” Finalist. She honed her abilities in roles as English Teacher, Coach, Director, Assistant Principal and Principal from North Carolina to Kansas. In each case, she created academic and cultural successes.
President and CEO of the Freemount Corporation
"Children are the future trustees of our communities. How we view them and what we expect of them will make all the difference in how they view themselves and how they welcome and meet the awesome tasks ahead of them."
Often noted as a national treasure, Clifton's award-winning book, “Once Upon A Time When We Were Colored” became a major motion picture and a requested gift for Nelson Mandela. He is also the noted author of "Eight Habits of the Heart," a timeless community building values guide used by educators in classrooms across the nation. His awards include National Jewish Humanitarian of the Year and the NAACP 27th Annual Image Award. Clifton is a guest speaker to members of the United States Supreme Court, Harvard University’s Principals Center, and Boston University’s Center for Ethics and Character. He served in the 89th Presidential Wing of the USAF. Taulbert is the President and CEO of the Freemount Corporation and Roots Java Coffee.
Michelle Borleske, M.A.C
Associate Director of College Counseling, THE GREGORY SCHOOL
Ask anyone who knows Michelle and they will tell you she is a gracious and tenacious advocate for not only youth of color, but all young people. She is accomplished school counselor, mental health professional, and former higher education director with 27 years of experience in student academic, social and personal development, post-secondary planning including college counseling, admissions, program development and evaluation, and secondary education planning and development. She's received countless awards for her tireless efforts, most recently selected as WACAC's High School Counselor of the Year.
Michelle is dual mastered education professional with an M.A. Counseling-School Counseling K-12, and an M.A. Administrative Services. Her work includes countless community and civic efforts on behalf of young people from all walks of life. Of special note is Michelle's decades long work as part of Women in Focus.
BOARD ADVISOR, WEBESCHOOLS
Today’s educational system is underfunded. That makes it challenging to get the positive outcomes that children deserve and that communities rely on. Tom Terry and his family’s charitable Foundation acknowledge both public funding limitations and the importance of educational success. That’s why the Foundation makes major contributions to supplement and bolster America’s public education system.
But Tom’s support of schools and the academic life of children didn’t begin with the formation of his Foundation in 1996 — education has long been a key part of Tom’s professional life. As an executive in the financial services industry, he encouraged his company to embrace the “Adopt-A-School Initiative”, which provides support and scholarships to schools and children in communities where his company had a presence. Even as a time-starved business exec, Tom accepted an appointment as a Board Trustee for Scholarship America. He served for nearly a decade and is now an Honorary Trustee.
Thomas E. Terry (Tom) attended the University of Wisconsin, where he obtained both his B.S. in Business and his J.D. in Law. Tom moved to California in the early 1960’s and resided there for more than 30 years. He has worked in investment management and was a senior executive of both The American Funds Group and The Capital Group Companies. Since 1994, Tom has been a private investor in innovative companies that focus on education, youth development, the arts, real estate development and emerging technology. He serves on the boards of a number of corporations and non-profits.