"Stay The Course"

Fostering Gritty Students Through Character Education

Our Journey

As we near the end our of yearlong internships at East Kingston Elementary School and Swasey Central School, we have invited you to attend our workshops on character education and its role in the classroom. After attending a workshop with Jim Grant, founder of Staff Development for Educators, we were inspired to encourage grit in our students. Each of us selected two grit traits and planned lessons to answer our fundamental question, "How do grit habits impact students’ access to learning and enable them to be lifelong learners?" We are excited to share our research, experiences, and data with you at our colloquium presentation on Thursday, March 26th at East Kingston Elementary School. We hope you can join us!

Stay The Course: A Colloquium Presentation

Thursday, March 26th, 4pm

5 Andrews Lane

East Kingston, NH


Supporting a Culture for Growth Mindsets:

Teaching students to overcome challenges with grit.

with Nicole Camuso and Rachel Sterner

Building a Gritty Community One Classroom at a Time:

What role does courage, open-mindedness, and social

responsibility play in fostering classroom community?

with Raelyn Carlyle, Laura Clark, and Rachael Heard

Getting Gritty with Literature:

Fostering self-control and persistence one character at a time.

with Sarah Decoteau and Emily Rice

About Us

Nicole Camuso

It has been such a delight working in Kindergarten alongside my cooperating teacher, Marne Dohrmann. This past fall we had an opportunity to attend a workshop by Jim Grant at Swasey Central School. He discussed the importance of the character trait grit in preparing children to become life-long learners. Feeling inspired by his presentation and the culture of our own classroom, I formed my research question: "How can I teach optimism and perseverance so that my students may approach learning in a new way?"

I began my research with Mary Cay Ricci's book, Mindsets in the Classroom. It defines and compares growth mindsets versus fixed mindsets. According to Ricci, a person with a growth mindset believes that, "one's intelligence can be grown or developed with persistence, effort and a focus on learning." (Ricci 3) The other faced mindset is the fixed mindset. A fixed mindset is defined as follows, "A belief system that suggests that a person has a predetermined amount of intelligence, skills, or talents." (Ricci 3)

A learner who exhibits a growth mindset believes they can learn new things with perseverance, optimism, and focus. With the intention of building growth mindsets in our classroom, I implemented lessons to teach each of those three traits.

“Every person passing through this life will unknowingly leave something and take something away. Most of this “something” cannot be seen or heard or numbered or scientifically detected or counted. It’s what we leave in the minds of other people and what they leave in ours. Memory. The census doesn’t count it. Nothing counts without it.”
Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

Rachel Sterner

How do you teach a character trait? This question is one that I truly struggled to answer as I began my research and classroom implementation of the grit quality, work ethic. The inspiration for my sub-topic came from my personal observations of a pattern of student behaviors in my classroom. Throughout my journey, I learned that research could only take me so far, and that my students were the best tool that I could use to discover the answer to my question. It has been such a wonderful experience working at Swasey Central School in Jody MacBride's third grade classroom. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to complete the UNH Master's Program with an extremely supportive school, cooperating teacher, and class. I look forward to sharing my research, process, and conclusions with you on March 26th!

Raelyn Carlyle

This year I have had the pleasure of working in a first grade classroom beside my cooperating teacher, Kate Zimar. As I became a part of East Kingston Elementary School, I quickly realized how character education is an important component of instilling grit in students. I have always been intrigued by the impacts of anxiety. However, since working in a school, I have seen how feelings of worry influence student success. This colloquium has given me the opportunity to research the impacts I have seen first hand in the classroom.

I would like to welcome you to join me as I share 1Z’s exploration of worry. As a class we have explored various worry management strategies for children through the Accountable Talk model. This unit of study has influenced multiple dimensions of student success including emotional, social, and academic growth. I hope to share methods and tools that will help your own students and children tackle feelings of anxiety. With a full toolbox of strategies, our students will be ready to face fear head on with courage and grit. I am looking forward to sharing the ways 1Z has overcome worry with you.

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.

— Nelson Mandela

Laura Clark

I am currently a student teacher in a third grade classroom at East Kingston Elementary School. My cooperating teacher and I have worked collaboratively throughout the year to create a socially responsible environment using Responsive Classroom. During my time in the classroom, I was inspired to further investigate the impact of classroom community on student learning. I measured the effectiveness of these strategies by using surveys, conducting interviews, and implementing activities that promoted collaboration and problem solving. Most importantly, I was able to understand the complexities of social relationships within our classroom and understand our ideas of classroom community are constantly evolving.

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”

-Eleanor Roosevelt

Sarah Decoteau

As an intern in Katie Young's first and second grade multiage classroom at East Kingston Elementary School, I have learned the importance of grit habits both as a teacher and a student myself. I graduated from UNH last year with a Bachelor of Science in Family Studies, focusing specifically on Child Advocacy. I'm so grateful to not only have the opportunity to receive a Master's in Elementary Education but also to explore and learn at East Kingston with the support of my creative cooperating teacher. With the help of my students, I was inspired to research character education and encourage persistence and resilience in the classroom. After this colloquium experience, I look forward to consistently encouraging grit habits in my future classroom in order to build a lifelong love for learning within my students. Join me to explore the literature and activities we used in our classroom to motivate ourselves to have a positive attitude as we took risks in our learning!

It always seems impossible until it's done.

- Nelson Mandela

Rachael Heard

Every time I look at a calendar, I am amazed and saddened to see how little time I have left at Swasey. As an intern in Paula Rushia’s second grade class and a member of the Swasey community, I have learned more than I ever thought possible.

Early in the year, I was fortunate enough to attend Jim Grant’s presentation on grit, where I became especially interested in the gritty trait of open-mindedness. With the help of my students, I examined how instruction on the Theory of Multiple Intelligences affected the intellectual open-mindedness of second graders. I look forward to sharing our journey and my findings on March 26!

Emily Rice

I am interning in Lynne Walker's third grade classroom at East Kingston Elementary School. I graduated from the University of Vermont in 2011, where I majored in Sociology and History and minored in Anthropology, and a couple of years later enrolled in the Master's in Elementary Education program at the University of New Hampshire. While attending Jim Grant's presentation on grit habits, I became interested in self-control and delayed gratification and decided to implement lessons on these habits through the written word. Attend my session, along with Sarah Decoteau's, to find out what I discovered!