Charles F. Elbot was born in Europe and lived his first twenty years as part of three cultures—French, German and American. After graduating from Wesleyan University, he pursued his dream to see the world. With his backpack, sleeping bag and only a few hundred dollars, he traveled west, crossing Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe over a three year period. For funds, he worked on ships out of Bali and Singapore. These were three extraordinary years of being exposed to a rich array of the world’s cultures.
Upon returning to the United States, he began teaching and then helped to found an alternative high school, September School, in Boulder, Colorado. After several years of teaching and serving as a principal, he attended Harvard University, earning his masters’ degree in moral development and educational administration. This was followed by serving as a principal in public and independent schools over the next twenty-one years.
Charles served as principal of Slavens School, a K-8 Denver public school, which in 2001 was honored as one of eight schools in the nation as a National School of Character. This school was also recognized for its extraordinary student academic achievement. These accomplishments attracted educators from around the country who spent days observing “how” things were done at the school. The following year Charles founded the Office of Character and School Culture and began to take these ideas to other schools in Denver and around the country. In 2003, the New Zealand government invited Charles to share these approaches with educators in New Zealand. Since then the Office of Character and School Culture has continued to develop the work of harnessing a school’s culture to build excellence in academics and character, culminating in this book.
Charles is married to Barbara Robertson Elbot and they have two children, Jason and David.