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.
Dr. Patrick Delmore
Director of Educational Leadership,
Master of Arts Program
Edgewood College, Madison, WI
Dr. Delmore's Middle School turn-around experience inspired WeBeSchools. It’s a real story that reflects how interrelated culture, climate and academics are to the success of a Middle School.
After 7 years of serving as Principal at Leopold Elementary School in Madison, Wisconsin (during which received the “Madison Metropolitan School District Distinguished Service Award”), Dr. Delmore took on the task of leading a historically challenged city school. He inherited a middle school with academic performance records that fell will below proficiency standards. The behavior management was reactive and ineffective, and the culture of the school was driven by a curriculum that placed differently abled and disadvantaged youth in lower level classes with vastly different standards. O’Keeffe Middle School was in desperate need of a change in direction. Enter Dr. Delmore.
Though it was a daunting task, Pat reestablished classroom heterogeneity, provided differently abled students the same class access as others, established a cohesive curriculum, and developed purposeful extracurricular activities that fostered student connectedness. Pat fostered a culture that encouraged students to be responsible, respectful, and more compassionate while ensuring he had the community's support as a foundation for the change.
The result? OKMS was recognized as a “Wisconsin School of Promise” three years in a row. Two members of WeBeSchools' company leadership had children at O'Keeffe Middle, one of whom witnessed OKMS's transformation while serving as PTA president. Nearly a decade later, the results of Pat's impact remain — OKMS is a highly desirable neighborhood school.
Dr. Delmore earned his Ph.D. at UW-Madison. He holds Masters Degrees in History from UW-Stevens Point and in Educational Administration from UW-Madison. Pat earned his undergraduate degree from UW-Stevens Point. Pat spent a decade as a Middle and High School Social Studies teacher in Madison Metropolitan School District. Dr. Delmore also helped develop and implement TAG programs for 18 of the district's schools.
CEO, Bill Cordes Seminars
Bill Cordes teaches with an energy, clarity and enthusiasm unmatched in nature. As a former "student with struggles", Bill really understands the anxieties that come from not being able to make the grade. He turned that anxiety into action by making distinctions about what good students do, and turned those distinctions into his life work.
Bill’s uncanny ability to connect with kids affords him a unique opportunity: to help youth internalize how responsibility, respect, courage, compassion and honesty bring great things to their lives, while also teaching students to gracefully navigate the challenges that arise along the way.
In his programs, Bill uses humor, enthusiasm, activities and powerful life stories to bring forth the willingness to change. The best way to experience Bill is to experience him in person. And we have — along with over a 2 million other teens, teachers, parents and business executives.
Bill Cordes did his graduate and undergraduate work at The University of Hawaii and Fort Hays State University. Bill also earned his Master's in Communication at Fort Hays State University.
In addition to being a former high school teacher and coach, Bill has authored and co-authored 6 books, written leadership curriculum for numerous camps and symposiums, and is an accomplished trainer who speaks more than 120 dates a year. He delivers his message at engagements that include youth leadership summits, college orientation weekends, substance abuse prevention seminars and the National Association of Student Counsels. To learn more about Bill Cordes go to www.billcordes.com.
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.
Co-Founder/Operations Director, WEBESCHOOLS
Mike spent thirty years witnessing phenomenal educators practice their craft. He learned more about strength of character from students challenged by social, economic, mental and physical hurdles than he did working alongside some of the finest leaders in the military and business.
Graduate of the University of Alabama, United States Army Officer Intelligence School, and The Wharton School Executive Program. Executive at the May Company, Brown Shoe Company, and Brand P. Mike’s professional life has been dedicated to identifying opportunities, then doing what it takes to bring those opportunities to life – from directing design and developing funding, to building operational structure and providing both personal and partnership management.
Co-Founder/Sales Director, WEBESCHOOLS
As an elementary school student with a learning disability, Jeff often found himself and his desk in the business end of a hallway. He had plenty of alone time to consider the tragedy of exclusionary attitudes in education. In the end he figured that whatever didn’t kill him made him stronger, and turned his frustration to motivation – Today Jeff helps young people internalize good character traits like compassion, respect, and responsibility.
Graduate of Kansas State University. Throughout his 25 year career working inside high schools, Jeff directly supported countless school administrators and educators by helping their students better understand the value of school connectedness, leadership and academic commitment.