Scent of character

Civic stories

We are partnering with members of the Atlas of Creative tools team to explore how character development is kindled through storytelling. Scent of Character is a medium through which students, teachers, staff and administrators share important moments from their lives that engage our senses and stir our imaginations. The collection touches on issues many of us are experiencing today and includes practices that help you reflect on others’ experiences and learn from your own stories.

Flourishing through civic character


What does civic engagement look like in educational spaces? How do the choices we make in leadership roles help students and teachers know that they are valued for who they are? In this collection of Scent of Character stories, people describe how they have internalized the civic assets to grow alongside students and in collaboration with others. Explore civic character through the experiences of others, as well as your own.

Belonging is like water


What contributes to your sense of belonging? This is something that Jamal Brooks-Hawkings has thought about a lot, both for himself and in terms of how he can help others feel as though they belong in all kinds of spaces.

Storyteller: Jamal Brooks-Hawkings
PhD candidate
School of Social Transformation

Pushing the limits of your knowledge


When have you found yourself at the limits of your knowledge, wishing you could do more for your students or colleagues? Alexandria Estrella Bridges has experienced this in the classroom, and has developed throughout her career a sense of accountability and the strategies needed to be able to support students, especially those that are undervalued by harmful social structures that persist in educational spaces.

Storyteller: Alexandria Estrella Bridges
Clinical associate professor
Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College

Being stripped from your land


Have you ever tried to help someone in good faith, only to discover that what you were offering wasn't what they needed? Luke Shahbander shares his experiences during an aide project in Al-Mafraq, Jordan around the beginning of the civil war in Syria, and the lessons he learned about what was necessary to help people on their own terms.

Storyteller: Luke Shahbander
Instructional designer
Arizona State University

Challenging yourself to do better


What strategies do you use when you are triggered by students or circumstances in the classroom? Kyle Martinez describes how he develops structures to help himself grow alongside students through those challenging moments.

Storyteller: Kyle Martinez
White Tanks Learning Center

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Character and creativity

By Atlas of Creative Tools

What questions, ideas, or memories did these stories evoke in you? There are many ways you can engage with what comes up for you, and it can be helpful to work with your responses while they’re still present. Bring your experiences together with some creative practices that will engage your mind, body, and imagination to discover the unexpected.

Wonders and inquiries

As people shared stories about their own moments of character development, several themes and even more questions emerged. In this collection of Wonders and Inquiries, students, educators and leaders in the community provide perspectives and insights based on their experiences. Use these videos to spark your own conversations and work around six broad educational themes.


Assessment provides all kinds of opportunities and challenges in education. Explore this collection to hear how educators using PI are thinking about assessment both inside and out of the classroom.

6 videos in the collection

14 minutes to complete

Building trust

Character development often evolves with a willingness to be honest with one’s self and with others. Creating conditions that foster trust between students, teachers, and administrators is an important part of the process.

6 videos in the collection

23 minutes to complete

Embedded in community

We know that learning and leadership doesn’t end when you leave the classroom. Explore this collection of insights about personal growth while making an impact on the communities that matter to you most.

6 videos in the collection

18 minutes to complete

Equity, justice, inclusion

Now more than ever, our work as educators around equity, justice, and inclusion needs to be central and visible. These perspectives offer pathways for dialogue and action among students, factually, and staff.

8 videos in the collection

20 minutes to complete

Putting PI into practice

We can learn a lot of practical knowledge from others’ experiences. This broad collection includes methods and strategies for putting Principled Innovation into practice.

16 videos in the collection

23 minutes to complete

The whole person

Sometimes in education we get stuck in our heads and forget how much our bodies can teach us. Explore these perspectives about integrating your body and mind, and ways of inviting your whole self into teaching and learning.

10 videos in the collection

27 minutes to complete