Scent of character

Moral 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 moral character


What does it mean to live our morals in everyday life? How does our understanding of morality affect how we communicate and build relationships in educational environments? In this collection of Scent of Character stories, people share how the moral assets help them make decisions in difficult situations, connect with others, and create accountability. Explore moral character through the experiences of others, as well as your own.

The other side of fear


Have you ever faced one of your fears head-on? Enrique F. Borges has, and the experience helped him discover a new approach to empathy and growth by reframing his fear.

Storyteller: Enrique F. Borges
Program coordinator, Sr.
Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College

Setting aside ego


How do you recognize compassion in your colleagues? Jill Koyama shares about a situation when she moved beyond her presuppositions about a faculty member to foster a better working relationship based on mutual care and respect.

Storyteller: Jill Koyama
Vice dean, educational leadership and innovation and professor
Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College

Say something


What do you do when you're teaching or facilitating, and someone expresses a racial bias? Shyla Dogan shares about when this happened to her as a student, and how important it is for teachers to push through panic and address difficult moments without making others feel excluded.

Storyteller: Shyla Dogan
Assistant professor
Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College

Wishing things were different


When have you let your shame steer you away from what you knew was the right thing to do? Phil Stoesz shares a story from his childhood about when he lied to someone, and how that experience has continued to shape and inform his ongoing work of self-acceptance.

Storyteller: Phil Stoesz
Design expert and facilitator
University Design Institute

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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