Two internationally known experts will speak at the 29th annual Conference on Character and Civic Education, April 12 and 13 in Fresno. Awards will be presented during the event to14 local middle schools and two county teachers.

Presented by Fresno State’s Kremen School of Education and Human Resources and its Bonner Center for Character Education, the conference begins Friday, 8 a.m. at the Fresno Convention Center Exhibit Hall.

Saturday the conference moves to the Fresno State campus and merges with the Leon S. Peters Lecture Series, “Civic Education, Religious Diversity, & Democracy.” Sessions start at 8:30 a.m. at the University Dining Hall (Scott Avenue, across from Cedar and south of Shaw).

Dr. Michele Borba, an internationally-recognized expert on children, parenting, bullying and moral development, will deliver the keynote addresse Friday.

She is author of 22 parenting and educational books that have been translated into 14 languages. Dr. Borba is a contributor for NBC News and the parenting expert on the CW show “Dr. Drew’s Lifechangers.” Her work has been featured on several national news programs and publications.

Dr. Charles Haynes, director of the Religious Freedom Education Project at the Newseum and a senior scholar at the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, will participate in two panels the second day. Dr. Haynes is an expert on free expression issues related to education.

The conference provides prospective teachers with information on local civic agencies assisting children and families with life issues. Workshops address ethical issues facing teachers and strategies to enhance character strengths in students.

According to Dr. Jacques S. Benninga, conference co-director and Kremen School faculty member, the conference is the oldest of its kind in the United States.

The Friday morning session with Dr. Borba and award ceremony, as well as the Saturday sessions are free and open to the public. All other sessions are for Fresno State and Fresno Pacific University student teachers.

Deborah Brown, Teacher of the Year

Deborah Brown

Jim Kusserow, Teacher of the Year

Jim Kusserow


During the Bonner Center for Character Education School Recognition Award ceremony Friday morning, James Kusserow will be named Tulare County Teacher of the Year and Deborah Brown will be recognized as Madera County Teacher of the Year.


The following schools will also be honored:

  • Alta Sierra and Clark Intermediate Schools – Clovis Unified School District
  • Divisadero and Green Acres Middle Schools – Visalia Unified School District
  • John Muir Middle School – Corcoran Unified School District
  • John Sutter Middle School – Fowler Unified School District
  • Abraham Lincoln Middle School – Selma Unified School District
  • Alice Mulcahy Middle School – Tulare City School District
  • Washington Academic Middle School – Sanger Unified School District
  • Scandinavian, Sequoia, Tehipite, Wawona, and Yosemite Middle Schools – Fresno Unified School District

For more information about the Character Education conference contact Benninga at 559.278.0253 or or conference co-directors Jane Moosoolian, at 559.278.0115 or

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