In an attempt to assist schools in dealing with the issues of student drop-out and decreased academic achievement, the National Character Education Foundation President and Founder, David Rettig, has partnered with Dr. Kathryn S. Atman and Dr. Melvin H Steals, to develop a cutting edge curriculum that is designed to help students, both behaviorally and academically, by helping them develop better planning and thinking skills.



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Dr. Melvin H. Steals is an author, former principal, teacher and adjunct professor. 
He is also the co-writer of the American Classic, Could It Be I’m Falling In Love,
originally recorded by the Spinners.


Because he has always striven to be the best that he could be, Dr Steals has earned the reputation of being an outstanding classroom teacher and building principal.  He has not only orchestrated a significant increase in a Blue Ribbon elementary school’s performance on a Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) test, but also generated a similar result in one of the Commonwealth’s lowest achieving middle schools in the following school year.  On May 3, 2000, the school received the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Violence Free Challenge Award for its exemplary Caring Habit of The Month Adventure Program.  In the words of one observer, "Children just seem to thrive in schools where Dr. Steals is in charge."

​Dr. Steals has a Bachelor’s Degree from Cheyney State University, a Master’s Degree from Duquesne University, where he also worked as an adjunct reading professor, and earned his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh.





​Dr. Kathryn S. Atman, Associate Professor Emerita, School of Education,
University of Pittsburgh,received her Ph. D. in Curriculum and Supervision
at the University in 1971.  As a member of the School of Education faculty
from 1970 to 2004, Dr. Atman taught methods and curriculum courses in the
elementary and secondary social studies certification programs, and developed
graduate courses in Character Education, Achievement Motivation and Mentoring. 
Dr. Atman retired from the University of Pittsburgh in August, 2004.


The focus of Dr. Atman’s research at the University of Pittsburgh from 1982 to the present has been on the importance of metacognition, particularly goal accomplishment skills, in the academic achievement of children and youth.  As an aspect of her research, Dr. Atman developed the Goal Orientation Index (GOI), in 1985.  The GOI is a self report inventory that provides middle and high school students as well as adults with profiles of their goal accomplishment styles.  GOI research data across nine grade-level studies, have identified specific goal-oriented behaviors that are related significantly to academic achievement.  This research has provided the basis for an academic achievement training program, Highway to Success, now available through the NCEF for middle and high school students.

​At the elementary level, Dr. Atman has developed a music-based character education program for children in grades K-5, GLAD TO BE ALIVE!.  The program includes 54 songs that focus on selected characteristics of character, for example: Responsibility, Accountability, Respect, Cooperation, and Tolerance.  Accompanying each song are: 1) discussion questions for the teacher; 2) opportunities for student creativity and reflection; and 3) a goal-setting activity in which each student practices the characteristics at home where parents are encouraged to support their children in the character education activity.

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