Editorial: Reading, Writing, Arithmetic … and Values

A discussion with Karen Conley, president and CEO, Charity for Change.

“I had a fifth-grade teacher call me at the office. She was in tears about the success with a 10-year-old boy on a bad path, possibly with gang friends. She saw him pick up a quarter from the floor and put it into the digital bank in the classroom for the Children’s Hospital. The teacher was moved because he did it in front of his friends and felt the heart to do such a good thing. She thought maybe he might now be on a better life trajectory.” —Karen Conley, president and CEO, Charity for Change   Sure, we want our schoolkids to be taught the basics—reading, writing, arithmetic and more. But I’m wanting to celebrate Karen Conley for innovative thinking that seems ever more necessary in these days of increased bullying, school shootings, juvenile suicides. In her quiet but driven way, she has pushed for teaching kids values—19 of them—and she ties these lessons to charities in the area. There’s obviously no textbook for this, so how do you build these character traits in schoolkids? We’ll get to her Charity for Change program shortly, but first a word or two about Karen and how she got started with this. She first came to Naples in 1972 after high school, preferring our sunny weather to the cold of her native Ohio. Over the years, she was off to Orange Coast College in California for a degree in acting and theater arts and to New York for various administrative jobs. But it was back to Naples (“where
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