Scent of character

Intellectual 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 intellectual character


What happens when we harness the full power of our intellect to create the spark that leads to more just, equitable, and inclusive futures? How do we validate the lived experiences of ourselves and of others so that our ways of thinking become more responsive to change and less exclusive? In this collection of Scent of Character stories, people describe how they bring forth inner processes to help shape their relationships with others, as well as with their work. Explore intellectual character through the experiences of others, as well as your own.

Connecting the dots, from self to others


When has thinking critically brought you closer to others? Cristóbal Rodríguez challenges the convention that critical thinking and reflection operate mainly at the individual level by describing how the communities we are embedded in experience positive change when we are intentional during these moments of pause.

Storyteller: Cristóbal Rodríguez
Associate dean of equity, inclusion and community engagement
Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College

We think the problem is us


How willing are you to seek real, honest feedback about a project you worked hard to create, even if it means you'll need to face some difficult truths? Michael Rohd and other members of the Sojourn Theatre company were faced with this question around the turn of the twentieth century, while performing a show throughout schools in the Pacific Northwest that addressed the rise of mass school shootings in America.

Storyteller: Michael Rohd
Director of Co-lab for Civic Imagination
University of Montana

Bridging the past and present


When you are thinking about how you want to create positive change with the communities you care about, what experiences from your past do you draw on that open doors to new possibilities? Gabe Hagen has created a brick-and-mortar manifestation of his story of personal growth so that others, especially those in the LGBTQ+ community, have an inclusive space in which to create their own impact.

Storyteller: Gabe Hagen
Co-founder of Brick Road Coffee
Tempe, Arizona

Additional footage courtesy of Alex Catedral and Catedral Collective.

Curiosity runs deep


Do you ever use curiosity to invite people to imagine new possibilities that are as exciting as they are responsible? Throughout her career, Lauren Yarmuth has done just that - with individuals and organizations - and has seen first-hand how being curious with herself and others can create lasting systemic change.

Storyteller: Lauren Yarmuth
The Cultural Conditions Project

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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