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On Purpose

How Great School Cultures Form Strong Character

Best-selling author Samuel Casey Carter showcases a dozen mainstream schools that focus on a culture of character as their foundation and have achieved extraordinary results.

Full description

Product Details
  • Grade Level: PreK-12, Elementary, Secondary
  • ISBN: 9781412986724
  • Published By: Corwin
  • Year: 2010
  • Page Count: 208
  • Publication date: January 08, 2011

Price: $39.95

Price: $39.95
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"This book reminds us that there is more to education than preparing students for high-stakes tests. It is our responsibility to intentionally develop the whole child."
—Irwin Kurz, Former Director of School Quality
Heritage Academies, Grand Rapids, MI

"Samuel Casey Carter shows how great cultures—not big bucks, smaller class sizes, different curriculums, or better buildings—are what we need to save our education system."
—Jay Mathews, Columnist and Author
The Washington Post

Discover how 12 ordinary schools achieved extraordinary results

Bestselling author Samuel Casey Carter showcases a dozen extraordinary K–12 public and charter schools where confident children joyfully strive to accomplish worthy goals in concert with their friends. These mainstream American institutions focus on a culture of character as their foundation and demonstrate scalable, sustainable, and replicable models for your school to emulate. The results are undeniable:

  • Students who are encouraged to build lasting personal character and a strong sense of purpose
  • Motivated teachers who feel rewarded for their hard work
  • Improved student achievement in multiple subject areas

Strategies for creating a healthy school culture, including intentionality and hands-on guidance by the principal, come to life through case studies. These compelling examples will help educators and parents focus on strong personal character as the desired result of genuine learning.

Key features

  1. 12 case studies of highly successful schools that share common traits of great character and culture are discussed in detail
  2. Schools are varied in size, age-level, income-level, geography and include 2 Charter Schools so there is a real cross-section
  3. Research criteria for school selection is clearly laid out in Ch. 1 so readers can see how and why this was done
  4. Lessons learned from the 12 schools are summarized in the final chapter so that readers can start to use this information in their own settings


Samuel Casey Carter photo

Samuel Casey Carter

Samuel Casey Carter wrote On Purpose as senior fellow at The Center for Education Reform. Today, he is Senior Vice President for Global Corporate Social Responsibility for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, a leading global education company committed to addressing education's dynamic challenges through individualized content, innovative technology and a holistic approach that inspires achievement and a lifelong love of learning. He is also Executive Director of the HMH Foundation.

Previously, Carter was president of CfBT USA, the United States charity affiliated with CfBT Education Trust headquartered in the United Kingdom, and president of National Heritage Academies, a charter school management company that operates more than sixty public charter schools in eight states, where he oversaw corporate strategy and the implementation of the company’s educational operations.

Carter is also the author of No Excuses: Lessons From 21 High-Performing, High-Poverty Schools, a book on the effective practices of high-performing schools that refuse to make poverty an excuse for academic failure. In addition to No Excuses, Carter has edited three other books including Mary Beth Klee’s Core Virtues, a literature-based character education program for parents and teachers of elementary school students. His articles, essays, and columns have appeared in more than 180 newspapers and magazines, including, The Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, New York Times, New York Post, Washington Times, Los Angeles Times, Investor's Business Daily, and Detroit News.

After receiving a bachelor degree from St. John’s College in Annapolis in philosophy and mathematics, Carter studied theology at Oxford University and philosophy at The Catholic University of America. He lives in Washington, D.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

About the Author




1. Four Common Traits of Great School Cultures

A Strong Belief That Culture Determines Outcome

A Nurturing but Demanding Culture

A Culture Committed to Student Success

2. Creating a Great School Culture

How School Cultures Are Made

How School Cultures Form Character

How Great School Cultures Drive Achievement


3. Harvest Park Middle School, Pleasanton, CA

4. Veritas Academy, Phoenix, AZ

5. Hinsdale Central High School, Hinsdale, IL

6. P.S. 124 New York, NY

7. Providence St. Mel, Chicago, IL

8. Arlington Traditional School, Arlington, VA

9. HOPE Prima, Milwaukee, WI

10. Cotswold Elementary, Charlotte, NC

11. Atlantis Elementary, Port St. John, FL

12. Grayhawk Elementary, Scottsdale, AZ

13. An Achievable Dream Middle and High, Newport News, VA

14. Benjamin Franklin Classical Charter Public School, Franklin, MA


15. How Communities Can Help Form Great School Cultures


Selected Bibliography




Price: $39.95
Volume Discounts applied in Shopping Cart

For Instructors

Request Review Copy

When you select 'request review copy', you will be redirected to Sage Publishing (our parent site) to process your request.