Sun Sun
How We Select our People of Character
 A great deal of care has gone into the selection of the people of character featured in our agendas. The 48 individuals found in our 2014-’15 edition were chosen upon recommendations from educators and parents and through our firm’s selection process. Many hours of discussion and research are required before our list is finalized. The individuals profiled in the agendas have been chosen solely based upon how well their lives or their individual actions represent one of the Six Pillars of Character® and a corresponding character trait. No one is ever perfect, but we are presenting those men, women, and children whose personal strengths or particular acts of character are well documented.
People of Character to be Featured in the 2014-2015 School Agendas
(Listed in order of appearance with their respective pillars & character traits)

Ola Mildred Rexroat

“No matter what it is, you can do it! Do all the extra little things, like studying, writing, practicing, until you can do it. Then try to do it better than anybody else!”

August - (Responsibility):

Hart Main
Founder of the candle company ManCans, which in partnering with soup kitchens to reuse empty food cans has provided over 50,000 meals to the needyBe Diligent

Ola Mildred Rexroat
American Indian woman who overcame extreme poverty to become the only American Indian to serve the U.S. as a member of the Women's Airforce Service PilotsDo Your Best

Jim Henson
Beloved puppeteer who created The Muppets and gained recognition as a film director and award-winning television producerSet a Good Example

Jake Olson
Young cancer survivor who lost his sight to the disease but perseveres nonetheless; inspires others through his books and motivational speechesPersevere

Jim Henson

“My hope is to leave the world a bit better than when I got here.”



“This is what America is all about - the ability to get ahead by hard work...I really wasn't expecting anybody to believe in my dream. The chances of becoming an astronaut were very low. But it was never impossible.”

September - (Responsibility):

Betty White
Actress, comedian, singer, author, and television personality known for her advocacy on behalf of animal rights and welfareKeep a Positive Outlook

Doris “Dorie” Miller
U.S. Navy cook commended for his bravery in saving wounded soldiers during the Pearl Harbor attack and, in doing so, became the first African American to receive the Navy CrossDo Your Duty

Christopher Reeve
Accomplished actor, director, producer, screenwriter and author who moved on from a horseback riding accident that left him paralyzed to advocate for the disabledTake Charge of Your Own Life

Franklin Chang-Díaz
Physicist and retired astronaut who became NASA's first Latin American in space and flew aboard seven space missionsWork Hard

Christopher Reeve

“I think a hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”

Robert Frost

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I - I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” - Excerpt from Frost's poem “The Road Not Taken”

October -

Toni Morrison
Novelist, editor, and professor who earned honors as the first black woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for her novel BelovedBe Forthright and Candid

Tenzing Norgay
Nepalese Indian Sherpa who gained recognition as one of history's most famous mountain climbers by aiding Sir Edmund Hillary in scaling Mt. Everest in 1953Loyalty

Dr. Alta Schrock
First Mennonite woman in the U.S. to earn a college degree, founder of 17 different philanthropic organizations, and contributor to relief efforts in Germany after World War IIHonor Your Commitments

Robert Frost
One of the most respected American poets of his generation and recipient of four Pulitzer PrizesBe Sincere

Lewis Tewanima
Legendary Hopi Indian distance runner who competed in the 1908 and 1912 Olympic Games, capturing silver in the 1912 10,000-meter race Build Your Reputation

Toni Morrison

“I'm interested in the way in which the past affects the present, and I think that if we understand a good deal more about history, we automatically understand a great more about contemporary life.”

Garrett Morgan

“If you have the ability to do something, why don't you do it?”

November - (Citizenship):

Linda Chavez-Thompson
Second generation Mexican American who has strived to improve labor laws and work conditions in the U.S.Serve on Committees

Garrett Morgan
Inventor of a "Safety Hood" and improved traffic signal who heroically used his hood to save the lives of men trapped in a tunnel explosionHelp Your Community Be Safer

Margaret Brown
Human rights advocate and philanthropist who gained fame as “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” for her efforts to save her fellow Titanic passengersBe a Good Neighbor

Ahn Chang-ho
Korean independence activist and educator who became the first Asian to be inducted into the International Civil Rights Walk of FamePursue the Common Good

Linda Chavez-Thompson

“We've lost a couple generations...who don't realize what their parents have done to build the workplace in America. Forty hours a week didn't just come automatically. Labor Day is more than just the last holiday before you go back to school.”

Alanna Wall

“You are never too young to serve. You can make a difference no matter what age you on your message so that adults will want to help you and take you seriously...have a plan, and set goals.”

December - (Caring):

Sam and Ben Tollison
Twin brothers whose company, A Monster to Love, provides children in need with their very own stuffed monster the two of them have createdConcern for Others

Wayman Tisdale
Respected NBA player and accomplished jazz bass guitarist known for his positive attitude even as he battled cancerBe Thankful

Alanna Wall
Young African American who established Polished Girlz at age 10 to give peer-to-peer support to girls who have special needs or are hospitalizedBe Compassionate

Elizabeth Palmer Peabody
Educator and publisher who opened the first U.S. public kindergarten, thus helping establish kindergarten as an accepted institution in American educationBe Altruistic

Colin Firth
Critically acclaimed actor who spends his time off screen tirelessly working on behalf of various humanitarian organizationsCharity

Wayman Tisdale

"You can never give up, because quitting is not an option. No matter how dark it is or how weak you get, until you take that last breath, you must fight."

Julia Ward Howe

“Let us recognize in all people human right, capacity, and dignity.”

January - (Fairness):

Rita Moreno
Highly respected Latina actress, singer, and dancer who was the first woman to win all four major entertainment awards: the Grammy, Emmy, Oscar, and TonyTreat People Equally

Julia Ward Howe
Prominent American abolitionist, social activist, poet, and author of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”  – Get Opposing Viewpoints Before Making Decisions

Toni Stone
The first woman to play professional baseball, she broke the sport's gender barrier and was later inducted into the International Women's Sports Hall of FameBe Open-Minded

Yash Gupta
Teenage creator of Sight Learning, a nonprofit that collects used eyeglasses for Third World country students so they can perform better in schoolBe Fair

Yash Gupta

“Three hundred million people...can't afford glasses but need them every day, and a large majority of these people are students. And I didn't think it was fair that they can't receive an education because of this.”

Tatyana McFadden

“When someone writes 'disability,' they should cross out the 'dis' and just keep the 'ability,' because I think that everyone is able to do something.”

February - (Respect):

Chief John Ross
Principal chief of the Cherokee Nation from 1828 until his death in 1866, he led the Cherokee through tumultuous years of development and relocationRespect Others' Property

Tatyana McFadden
U.S. Paralympian who overcame spina bifida and years in a Russian orphanage to become a multi-medal winner and advocate for the disabledRespect the Dignity of All Individuals

Duke Ellington
A founding father of jazz music who many consider to be America's greatest composer, bandleader, and recording artistBe Courteous, Polite, and Civil

Nancy Lopez
Latina golf legend who overcame the racism and injustices she encountered because of her culture and roots Use Good Manners

Nancy Lopez

“...if you listen to the sound of your own voice, you can rise above doubt and judgment. And you can see forever.”

Vinoba Bhave

“A nation will become really strong only if it is free from internal conflicts, if it becomes self-sufficient and the people within are united by bonds of love.”

March - (Respect):

Dr. Doris Ching
A tireless advocate of student excellence, equal rights, diversity, and success who has furthered the causes of women and Asian Americans Acceptance

Samantha Smith
Child “ambassador of peace” who visited the Soviet Union after writing to the country's leader in 1982 about the nation's relationship with the U.S.Resolve Disagreements Peacefully

Vinoba Bhave
Advocate of nonviolence and human rights who, as a dedicated follower of Mohandas Gandhi, served as one of India's best-known social reformers Nonviolence

Albert Baez
Hispanic physicist who co-invented the x-ray reflection microscope that allowed people to view living cellsBe Tolerant of Those Who Are Different From You

Dr. Doris Ching

“I want to see a better world...a world of equality and equity, free of discrimination.”

Leo McCarthy

“I'm not asking you to say 'no' to drugs. I'm asking you to say 'yes' to yourself and a life of simple

April - (Trustworthiness):

Leslie Marmon Silko

Accomplished contemporary American Indian novelist, poet, and essayistStand By Your Family

Leo McCarthy
Founder of Mariah's Challenge, which aims to keep teens from drinking and promotes responsible behavior by adults Keep Your Promises

Harriet Tubman
Famous African American abolitionist and humanitarian who escorted over 300 slaves to freedom along the Underground Railroad Reliability

Jessica and Joey Wu
Sibling violinists who founded On a High Note in 2011 to introduce classical music to disadvantaged, ill, and disabled childrenHave Courage to Try New Things

Nelson Mandela
International hero who, after spending nearly 30 years in prison for leading a passive-resistance revolution against the racist laws of apartheid in South Africa, became its first democratically elected state presidentStand Up for Your Beliefs

Harriet Tubman

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”

Jordan Schwartz

“Individual effort, as small as it may sometimes seem, can make a difference. Along with that, remember that role models are everything, and our efforts here will leave a legacy. Please get involved.”

May - (Caring):

Jennifer Buffett
Philanthropist who is a major player in the global movement to empower women and girls Be Considerate

Jordan Schwartz
Young woman who founded the Children's Bilingual Theater at age 12 to bridge the language and cultural gaps in her community through the theater and arts Be Empathetic

Andrea Bocelli
World famous blind Italian tenor and instrumentalist whose foundation supports those living in poverty or overcoming barriers caused by illness and disability Give Support to Make Someone Else's Life Better

Kate Shelley
Teenager who became a national heroine in 1881 for risking her life to warn an oncoming passenger train it was headed for a washed-out bridge Help People in Need

Andrea Bocelli

“Experience taught me that if we pass on generosity, if we share the happiness and the goodness that is in each one of us, we will get it all back, and multiplied.”


Dr. Sima Samar

“Peace, without respect for human rights and dignity, is meaningless...”

June - (Fairness) - (Citizenship):

Lee Iacocca
Former Chrysler CEO who has been credited with saving the company and the jobs of its workers and has since gone on to focus upon finding a cure for diabetes Consider What People Have to Say

Helen Freeman
Conservationist and endangered species advocate who created the Snow Leopard Trust in 1981 to protect this species in its Central Asian habitatConserve Resources

Dr. Sima Samar
Admired human rights advocate who has spent her life seeking justice for all people in Afghanistan, especially its women and girls Be Just

John Dewey
Philosopher, educator, and social reformer often considered to be the 20th century's most influential educational thinkerRespect Principles of Democracy

Ada Lovelace
Technology visionary who aided Charles Babbage in creating a forerunner to the modern computer and gained recognition by many as the world's first computer programmer Hear People Out

John Dewey

“Education is a social process; education is growth; education is not preparation for life but is life itself.”


Nominate someone for inclusion in a future edition of the CHARACTER COUNTS! School Agendas.
Click Here to nominate a person of character.

All illustrations provided by Kaso Comics, Inc. Artwork by Ed Coutts, Anthony Cacioppo, and Gary Scott Beatty.

“CHARACTER COUNTS!” and “The Six Pillars of Character” are registered trademarks of Josephson Institute.

| Home