Remembering Sandy McDonnell
We have sad news to share with you. Sanford N. (Sandy) McDonnell died on the morning of Monday, March 19, 2012, from pancreatic cancer. He was in his home with his family. A memorial service was held on Wednesday, March 28, where his family reflected on his extraordinary life.
The man who engineered journeys to the moon left our world transformed by his vision and leadership in character education. Sandy did not so much lead the evolution of Characterplus as to parent it as a wise father…as one who walks the talk first and always, then talks it so we can identify it, explore it, and develop it within ourselves.
He founded Characterplus in 1988 with an invitation that seven public school districts accepted as a noble challenge. More importantly, he trusted educators to design and build their own communities of character. He rallied the community support that nourished an appetite for resources, research, experts and collegial sharing. The result is a national phenomenom that has drawn international attention. The districts now number 77 and include public, private, charter and parochial schools serving more than 300,000 students in Missouri and southern Illinois. Schools within this membership have earned more National School of Character titles than any state or region across the country. There is no quick way to articulate the depth of this accomplishment, so let us share simply that emissaries from Taiwan, Japan, Russia, and Africa have come to see and to learn from what is happening here.
Those of us fortunate to see Sandy at the podium or receive his messages, know that the words of philosophers anchored his ideals and he quoted them often. It was a two-way street. Teddy Roosevelt was speaking of Sandy when he wrote “Character, in the long run, is the decisive factor in the life of an individual and of nations alike.” Sandy is one of those rare few whose individual life has been a decisive factor for a nation seeking to reground itself in authentic character.
Note: The photo was taken as Sandy talked with donors and friends on February 27, 2012 at the kick-off of the 2012 Community-wide Campaign that raises funds to match Characterplus membership fees.
Questions? Contact Jacqueline Byrne at (314) 692-1204 or firstname.lastname@example.org