COE Proudly Sponsors Illinois State Schools of Character

March 13, 2017 | Joliet, Ill.

The University of St. Francis (USF) College of Education (COE), in partnership with the Will County Character Coalition, are proud sponsors of the Illinois State Schools of Character (ISSC) program. Each year the ISSC selects schools and/or school districts for the annual Illinois State Schools of Character recognition. The ISSC seeks to recognize schools and school districts that demonstrate outstanding character education, which yields positive results in student behavior, school climate and academic performance.

This year the evaluation team selected Freeburg Primary Center in Freeburg, Ill., and St. Mary of the Angels in Chicago, Ill., as 2017 Schools of Character. St. Mary is the first Catholic school in the Chicago Archdiocese to receive such a distinction. Belleville School District 118 of Belleville, Ill., received the 2017 School District of Character distinction. Belleville is the first school district in the state to receive this distinction as an entire district due to the number of schools within the district who meet Schools of Distinction standards. Forest Park Individual Education School in Joliet, Ill., also received an honorable mention.

These organizations were chosen because they exemplify the eleven principles of effective character development and will be forwarded to the National Schools of Character competition sponsored by, formerly the Character Education Partnership, for National School of Character consideration. Each school and district will receive an ISSC banner at individual ceremonies in March.

“These schools and this one school district have created caring school climates where character is taught, celebrated and lived in service to the school and community,” said Dr. Madonna Murphy, Coordinator of the Illinois Schools of Character Program and professor in the USF College of Education. “Research shows that schools who promote character education develop students who grow to become confident and ethical leaders.”

The USF College of Education began sponsoring the ISSC program five years ago in an effort to promote character development in Illinois schools, especially those in Will County, since many College of Education graduates take teaching positions within the county. Sponsorship and support of this program is also consistent with the vision and mission of the College of Education at USF, which is to help educators meet the demands of contemporary society and to serve the community.

“As sponsors, we work together with administrators and teachers in the field to positively shape the social, emotional, and character development of young people by providing them with professional development and coaching to become schools of character,” says Murphy. “In schools of character, students feel safe and respected, thus they thrive academically and socially and are motivated to give back to their communities.”

COE Dean John Gambro also noted, “In this era of hyper-focusing on test scores, it’s important to remember that as educators we need to develop all aspects of our students – intellectual, social, and emotional.”

For more information about the College of Education at the University of St. Francis, please visit

The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves 3,900 students nationwide, offering undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 48,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.