Children’s Letters to the Characters

Joni is such an amazing woman with an amazing cause! Her curriculum for building character in children is brilliant and we will proudly support her in any way that we can 🙂


Farm it Out!

Thank you so much for sharing the information about your organization. Active citizens and strong organizations are the cornerstone of our democracy, and so I thank you and all those you work with for engaging in the important work of true citizenship. Our strength as a country and our ability to responsibly shape our future depends on informed and impassioned Americans.

We are at a critical moment in our Nation’s history, and we need all the hands on deck approach to solve the problems that we face. America needs your hand, your hearts and your heart work now more than ever. History tells us that when we come together as a Nation with a sense of purpose and a spirit of service, no challenge is too great.

I appreciate that you took the time to write, and I want to thank you for all that you do in your community, for daring to innovate, for dreaming big, and for finding ways to create a better tomorrow. I wish you all the best.

Michelle Obama

First Lady, The White House

Let me take a moment to introduce to you Joni J. Downey who is the wonderful creator of Characters of Character. Joni has developed an interactive program of ‘characters’ to teach, promote and encourage good choices and becoming good citizens. Meet Behavior Bear, Do’er Duck, Friendship Frog, Self-esteem Elephant and five other characters who will help engage children of all ages in better choices. Please feel free to call me for further information and/or references.

Pamela Althoff


Please accept my sincere gratitude and appreciation for the Trait character Posters. This gift is being graciously accepted on behalf of the City and will e recorded in the official Mayoral Gift Log.

Thank you for your support and I extent my best wishes for much continued success.

Rahm Emannuel

Mayor, City of Chicago

Joni’s passion for working with children through her program Character of Characters comes through on her website and even more in speaking with her. Her joy, dedication, and passion are without equal. Character of Characters is successful and has been recognized due to her wonderful personality and ability to bring joy. It’s an honor to work with her in developing strategies, plans to market, and fund raise Character of Characters. Her efforts in working with children to assist in the development of positive character traits that will last a life time are tireless. A joyful person, a joy to work with, and a blessing to all of us.Thank you Joni, you inspire and motivate.


Marilynn Boyko

The 501c3 TroubleShooting Maven

I am writing to express my support for the character development program known as Characters of Character, a 401(c)(3) non-profit organization. The purpose of the Characters of Character program is to promote and teach young students vital core community traits. The program helps to establish a foundation of good social and interpersonal skills to children at an early age, a time when the pupils begin to experience and embed such attributes to their behavior.

With the guidance of the program, children learn to follow the many character models provided to them. Thus they begin to understand manners, behavior, responsibility, friendship, and many other virtues in a positive sense. The development of these traits in students fosters a healthy relationship between each other, their elders, and facilitates their engagement in education and learning. By helping our children to build a strong moral background, we are helping them to understand the necessary skills needed in their everyday life as students and members of their community.

As a nation, the benefits and potential in teaching young children the proper interpersonal behavior is crucial. These abilities, which our young generation will acquire today, will make it possible for them to pursue unique and great endeavors in the future. Strengthening America by providing the means for our future leaders to grow is a meaningful and necessary task to accomplish.

I proudly and confidently support the Characters of Character program and the social skills that it teaches young children to adopt. Thank you for taking time to consider my thoughts on this important program.


Melinda L. Bean

Congresswoman, Congress

I was a principal in CCSD 46 when Joni Downey first started her “Character” program at Woodview School. It was extremely well received by the school community and staff. I can remember the principal being quite excited by the program when it was shared at an administrative meeting. I know that Joni models and lives the “Characters of Character” program that she created and now has published. I truly believe her program will change any school climate for good! If you haven’t taken a close look at this program, you need to do so because it is terrific!


Ken Rose

Owner Sylvan Learning



Desmond Clark

Former Chicago Bear, Financial Adviser - Wayne Messmer and Associates

I was working at an elementary school that Joni first introduced her Characters of Character. I saw first hand how enthusiastic her approach was and how excited the children were to learn about them. In a world where it seems like values and simple manners are disappearing, it is so nice to know that somewhere our children are learning these valuable life lessons. I truly believe every child should experience this program, they will surely benefit

Kelly Barenbaum

Professional, parent

I had the pleasure of working with Joni for several years at Woodview School. She was a paraprofessional program assistant in grades K-4 in our reading department. Joni has such a special talent for working with young children. She knows how to relate to children and shows a sincere interest in each and every one of them. Joni needed little direction as she met the needs of our students. She has those qualities that make an excellent teacher. The staff would always be encouraging her to get her teacher’s certificate because she is a natural! The staff at our school was excited when Joni developed her Character of Characters program. She believed in her message and we believed in her! I cannot tell you how many of our students were influenced by her loving, caring ways. Our staff and students were excited when she shared her experiences as an author. It actually got our students excited about writing! I cannot say enough about Joni’s skills as a teacher. She’s creative, looks for ways to improve her instruction to get students to that next level, and is interested in their future and helping them become caring and responsible individuals. Her goal is to encourage them to make a difference in the world they live in.


Colleen Irvin

Reading Specialist at CCSD 46

Joni Downey and Characters of Character are a bright light and a breath of fresh air. With all the influences of reality TV and other changes in society, Joni and CFC instill solid values and learning that will last children for a life-time. The characters are a delight, and Joni’s commitment to impacting the lives of children and working with parents and educators is without peer. Joni and COC should be in every school, in every state throughout the nation. I am fully convinced that lives and families have been touched and changed in a positive way due to the activities and programs of Characters of Character and Joni Downey.



After learning about Healthy Hippo, my kids think twice about saying “NO” to their vegetables! These characters have a simple way of engaging children into good choices, we love the CHARACTERS!



Professional, mother

I have worked with Joni Downey for several years during the regular school year. This summer, I had the pleasure of working with Joni during our summer school resource program. The students I observed enjoyed Joni’s Characters of Character Program so much that they literally were asking for them when they came into the classroom every morning! Everyone seemed to have their favorite character. The students were receptive and eager to participate in class discussion about the characters as well as writing about how they related to the traits of the characters in their everyday lives. What I found to be truly amazing was the fact they couldn’t wait to write about the characters as writing is very difficult for many of these students. You would never have known that was the case. These students embraced the characters and the positive messages they convey. This program teaches children to make sound, positive decisions and would be beneficial to any school district.

Kathy Vernsten

Professional, Speech and Language Pathologist

We (Higher Up Ministries) invited Characters of Character to come to our annual Community Festival called “The Boxwood Bash”. They were awesome! I can’t even remember how many people came up to me during and also after the event to tell me how great they thought you were. Even the Mayor of Mount Prospect, Irvana Wilks, mentioned what an absolutely marvelous organization this seemed to be! That is high praise coming from a Leader in a community that was voted “The best place to raise Kids in America” a couple of years ago as well as one of the top five communities to live in the United States. Your work with Kids in making a difference in so many lives, keep up the good work! Jan McKenzie, Higher Up Ministries

Jan and Rod McKenzie

Professional, Higher Up Ministries

I first met Joni after receiving a message on LinkedIn. I found her to be passionate about helping children learn the essential values of life. Joni has actual characters that are appealing to younger children as well as a curriculum. A talented artist and go getter , Joni is a first class talented person that would be an asset to any organization that works with children.

Betty Davis Zelasko

Fun with Phonics Tutoring, Lake Zurich School District 95


Loretta Foote


Joni introduced animals as “Characters of Character” to me several years ago. Each animal professes a simple memorable message that address conditions that affect our pre and primary grade school children and their families. I have several of the Characters posted in my office. My colleagues at work are captured by the Characters and often comment: …”just what I need”, …”my grandkids would love this”,…”this should be in my child’s classroom”. When children visit my office, some immediately recognize the animals; with a little encouragement from a supportive adult the learning process continues for the child. Each animal has a message and children are asked to tell us the message. The method and environment in which the message is conveyed can play an important role in support of parents and teachers. I am sincere in my belief that “Characters of Character” can improve conditions that affect our youth and can lead to the realization of positive outcomes in the development of our youth. I am a parent/grandparent. My grandkids recognize the Characters and the messages that they “tell them”

Philip Matute

IL Dept. of Human Svcs

Joni is truly amazing. I’ve used the Respectful Rabbit materials throughout the year. It’s very important nowadays for children to learn about respect; respect for themselves, for others, for other’s property, and for our environment! There was so much material to choose from. Lesson planning was made easy! The children learned while enjoying all the activities, and we worked on having a more peaceful classroom! I loved it! Thank you, Joni!!



My son goes to school at Lake Barrington Academy of Stars, where this program has been strongly implemented. It is a great program that teaches values and morals to children, and it has definitely affected my son. He loves the program and all of the characters. He even talks about it at home. Character is very important for children to learn. I think it is an excellent program and should be implemented in all child care centers and schools.


Teacher, parent

As a colleague, I have known Joni for ten years. She shared her Characters of Character program with us, the staff and the students. It was so well received by the students that we had special programs which included the entire school through classroom and assembly participation.
Since then, she has branched out to other districts, libraries and book publishing’s. She did this by being a very influential, dynamic communicator through her artistry in drawings, illustrated book writing and character costumes life size creations.

Edna Smyth

Reading Specialist, Retired Principal

In other politeness and good character were a given. That is no longer the case in this day and age. Hats off to Joni and her family for promoting these characters and their qualities. Children need all the reinforcement they can get that civility is still alive and well and welcomed in all aspects of society. Our character is what we are when no one is looking. Joni is not only a teacher’s aide, but a mom and one of God’s children bringing light into the world she lives in. These characters and the lessons they teach may save some children from a future in jail. Thank you Joni!



More comments

I would like to positively comment on the work of Mrs. Joni Downey. Mrs. Downey is one of our reading assistants here at this School and does a tremendous job in her work with our kindergarten students. As you already know, Mrs. Downey has a wealth of talents and abilities in working with children. Mrs. Downey has created a program called Characters of Character stressing the ideas of good citizenship to all students. She has worked tirelessly to spread the word of this award winning program and we are honored to have her as a member of our staff. Mrs. Downey herself is of the highest character and I would highly recommend the opportunity for you to sit down and talk with her in more detail about her program and how it would benefit students.


Jeff Knapp


Joni has dedicated her life to this incredible and much needed organization, Characters of Character. With so many youths dealing with the stresses of today, it’s comforting to know that Joni’s creative approach enlightens these children into realizing that they aren’t alone with their thoughts, needs and dreams.

Rhonda Bellevia

Material Management, Com Ed

Recently, we donated some of our character resources after this school had reached out to our organization. This is what the Principal had to say: Oglesby Elementary is a school located in Chicago, IL in a neighborhood in Englewood- one of the top 10 dangerous neighborhoods in the city. We were gifted with this wonderful resource that my Pre-k teachers have been using with our youngest scholars daily! Character education has not been taught in schools for many years but we thought this was an amazing way to bring it back but in a way that our kids could relate to and enjoy. They love the characters that go with each trait and remember the lessons long after they end! We plan to expand to kindergarten classes next year! If you would like information about the Characters of Character, please visit our website to meet Behavior Bear, Do’er Duck, Friendship Frog, Healthy Hippo, Manners Monkey, Respectful Rabbit, Responsible Rabbit, Self-Esteem Elephant and Warm-Hearted Walrus. We would love to meet you and help with your character development needs.

Kimberly Hendersen

Principal CPS, Principal

I have observed for the last few years how dedicated Joni is to making the world a better place for children. She has put her heart and soul into creating Characters of Character and I believe this was because she saw a great need while working with children in the classroom. Joni discovered that there needed to be more emphasis placed on teaching children vital core values such as Good Behavior, Persistence, Honesty, Health, Manners, Respect and Responsibility. You need to see her creative characters in action to fully understand what an impact they will have on the group they visit

Shelley Ancheta

Owner, Stretch-n-Grow Lake & McHenry County

Mrs. Downey’s passion to help young children develop strong character and self-esteem has been a goal of hers for years. She has passionately and patiently introduced and marketed her program to schools and youth programs. As a business owner myself, I can attest to the hard labor, and enormous start-u[ costs. While her funding has been limited and she has had to rely on ‘word of mouth’ advertising, I am delighted and honored to do a ‘shout out’ for the entire Characters of Character organization. The entire Downey family has supported Joni and the non-profit organization. The entire staff at lake Barrington Academy of Stars strongly supports Joni and all the hard work and dedication she has put in to her organization. I can strongly recommend the Characters of Character program for any early childhood program and not only the children, but the teachers, parents and families are the ultimate beneficiaries of the Characters of Character program.

Noreen Stass

Owner, Lake Barrington Academy of Stars

It has been an honor and a privilege to work with you this past year on your Characters of Character program. It has made an incredible impact on our students and has really helped to improve the climate and culture of our school. The entire school embraced the characters and the citizenship traits they represented.

As the year went on I saw teachers and students talking about being a good friend, respecting each other, and being responsible. I am confident these conversations would not have occurred in such great numbers if it were for you and your wonderful characters. The characters made it simple to explain difficult concepts to even the youngest of students.

Jen Glickley


The Manners Monkey teaching tool booklet is a great way to teach early pragmatic skills to young children. This particular tool is effective because it teaches children the important social language skills related to demonstrating good manners in a variety of social situations, including at home, in public, in the classroom, at a friend’s house, and at the table. This booklet also features a variety of useful tools for teachers, speech-language pathologists, and other developmental specialists to facilitate good social communication/manners, including posters, worksheets, rewards/incentives, and progress reports. Additionally, the booklet contains writing prompts to encourage older children to think critically about manners and how they can be applied to a child’s various environments. The early pragmatic skills taught in the Manners Monkey booklet feature concepts that are essential for children to develop and master to improve language skills and teach important values. Children with communication disorders stemming from a variety of underlying conditions however, often demonstrate particular difficulty acquiring these social language skills. Supplemental teaching tools, such as the Manners Monkey booklet, gives pediatric speech pathologists a simple and fun way to target this area of language during therapy sessions. It also provides clinicians with tools to track progress and encourage carryover to settings outside of the therapy room.

Jacky Skoufes

Sarah Rosten, Pediatric Interactions

I had the honor of working with Joni as the Characters of Character were being developed. She spent a huge amount of time reflecting on her years of teaching and determining where the needs were of the school. Through her characters, our students were able to focus on positive behavior and learn exactly what it looks like! The adorable characters told a story to the students which enabled them to remember exactly what positive behavior is all about. I highly recommend this program to any school district! Not only did Joni work with the entire school, but she spent time with individual teachers in order to implement Characters of Character in the most successful way.


I led a lesson on Warm Hearted Walrus today. The kids were amazing coming up with different ideas of being kind to others at home and school as well as how they are kind to animals and nature. We made “care packages” for someone who warms our heart! The best part was hearing the students later on in the week saying things like, “Anthony was just like Warm Hearted Walrus! He told me I did a great job reading!” What a fantastic way to teach and reinforce kind, caring behavior!


Jenn Miller

Teacher, parent

The Characters of Character program founded by Ms. Joni Downey has been a great tool in teaching our young preschool children about good manners, good character and healthy habits for life. We have enjoyed several visits by “Manners Monkey” or “Behavior Bear” and the children loved it. Ms. Joni exemplifies professionalism and great character in all she does. I highly recommend her program and positive message for our young children. It is greatly needed in a world where there is so much negativity, bullying and violence. The “Characters of Character” is a must for all early childhood educators and young families.

Noreen Stass

Owner, Lake Barrington Academy of Stars

Hosting Characters of Character at our bookstore is always a joy. The children love meeting the character and the parents are thrilled with the programming and what their children are able to take away.

Arlene Lynes

Owner, Read Between The Lynes

Joni is such a dedicated, hardworking, passionate individual. Her program Characters of Character is such a wonderful fun way to teach kids whats right and wrong, be health, act of kindness, all that good stuff! The kids really interact with Joni and the Characters. Joni is AMAZING!

Jacky Skoufes

Graphic Designer

I am a home school mom. My children love the Characters and what a fun way to teach them all kinds of great values!
Thank you, Characters of Character! I home school my children and when they were introduced to the characters in “Characters of Character”, they responded so well; they looked forward in practicing what each Character portray. My kids love to show off what they have learned and I can see they are proud to do what is right. I am proud to see my children re-act so positively to the teachings that “Characters of Character” have brought to my home.
Thank you, Characters, we love you!

Christina McCartney


“I reference Behavior Bear with my son because he relates to him. This helps him share his toys and be a better listener. My child used to cry a lot while brushing his teeth, but after Healthy Hippo visited his school, he cries no more!”


Professional. parent

I had the honor of meeting with Joni and her Characters of Character. I got to see first hand the powerful impact that these characters have on children and even put a big smile on adults faces! She shared her struggles financially with printing, marketing and attending exhibits with her program which makes sense. I don’t understand why funding is so difficult to obtain for such a good caucse. Don’t let this worthy, reputable and hard working organization fall by the way side, they make a difference!


Professional, mother, grandmother, Lamb's Farm

I worked with Joni as she was beginning to develop her characters. We used her characters in our classroom and the students were enthralled with each one. Fourth graders loved her characters and would be actively engaged in the lessons. Her character program was one of the best I have ever worked with. I would encourage any district to look at her program and try it. I think everyone would be thrilled from the teachers, students, and administration. It is a positive, fun, engaging program with cute, cuddly characters students can still embrace. Nice work!

Deb Diedrich

Professional, parent, grandparent

Joni Downey’s Characters of Character program: This extraordinary educational program uses friendly and adorable Characters to teach the everyday values we as a society should be caring about; concepts of responsibility, respect, caring, honesty, perseverance, courage, self-discipline, fairness, and friendship. This program is an invaluable tool for classroom educators & parents alike if you seek to instill character values in your children through lesson plans as well as what they do every day. The program contains thought-provoking discussion starters, activities, reproducible worksheets and lots of fun for exploration in even the toughest of today’s subjects like bullying. My children know exactly what to do when I ask them to be like Manners Monkey at a public restaurant or get their homework done like Doer Duck. There is even a character named Healthy Hippo, thank you for showing you don’t need to be pencil -thin to be healthy! My son’s personal favorite is Warm- Hearted Walrus. I highly recommend the Characters of Character program if you truly want to your kids to absorb the values they will live for a lifetime. You know what I mean if you remember McGruff the Crime Dog and Smokey the Bear

Rhedonda Cox

Professional, parent

“We saw Characters at the Chicago Kids Expo! Thank you for your dedication in reaching out to young children, especially mine. My daughter had a coloring page of all the Characters that were available at the Expo and we discussed the character traits of each. This is also a great lerning resource for home school groups. I hope you find a way to reach the thousands of home school children in the Chicago area”



“I think it’s a great program. As a Dean of Students, I am in favor of any type of program that assists students in a positive way. Continue to make a positive impact on the lives of the children you come in contact with.

Steve Tucker

Dean of Students

I was lucky enough to have Joni work in my classroom for 2 years. Her enthusiasm and experience and expertise was phenomenal. She worked diligently with the students to meet each child’s direct need. She went above and beyond her duties to ensure that every student was successful. She created her own games and incentives to encourage the children that she worked with. She worked in guided reading groups as well as one one one.
I had the pleasure of using her character program in my classroom. I loved the way that it included stories and lessons that the students could relate to. My students loved hearing from a new character every month. We even used it in our academic areas. We used it for journal writing, word family folders and any other way we could think of incorporating it into the daily routine. My student LOVED it!

Amy Wonsil

1st Grade Teacher

We hosted Mommy & Me painting at Pediatric Interactions and it went very well. Joni was organized, enthusiastic and the classes went off without a hitch. Would definitely work with her again in the future!

Kricia Doescher


“Miss Joni” was my son’s pre-school teacher at age 4. I remember him coming home each day talking about the characters of character and what they had talked about in school that day. Pre-school is the perfect age to start these life long values that shape the way children view themselves and others. I think these characters had a lasting impact on him. He is now 12 years old, a Boy scout, sports enthusiast, and friend to everyone he meets! Thanks Joni!

Amanda Dziubala

Professional, parent

When first presented to the 4th graders they were a little reluctant. They thought that they were too old for animal characters. They did agree that they do need reminders to be respectful, responsible, practice good manners and be good friends. We decided that we would buddy up with a kindergarten class and teach our buddies the different characters and what they represent.

Before would meet, the 4th graders would brainstorm what kind of activity to do with the kindergartners. We decided what characteristics to focus on, what examples we want to present and what activity to do. During the planning process we would spend a lot of time discussing these characteristics. The students were active participants in the process and felt that they also received a valuable reminder of the characteristics that go into being a good person. For these reasons I feel that this Character Education Program is a very valuable part of the school environment.

Kathy Lett

4th Grade Teacher

Mrs. Downey has a deep love for children. Not surprisingly, I’ve watched her turn mundane tasks into learning opportunities for children. Mrs. Downey turned this short time with my class into class meetings with the students. They would talk about their feelings, and Mrs. Downey would use her citizenship philosophy to teach these children how to get along. They loved her and learned much from her teaching.

(I took the 4th grade class back to their room after lunch where I then implemented the characters. We had discussions, created a class journal and got to learn more about one another.)

Pat Hyams

4th Grade Teacher

It has been an honor and a privilege to work with you this past year on your Characters of Character program. It has made an incredible impact on our students and has really helped to improve the climate and culture of our school. The entire school embraced the characters and the citizenship traits they represented.

As the year went on I saw teachers and students talking about being a good friend, respecting each other, and being responsible. I am confident these conversations would not have occurred in such great numbers if it were for you and your wonderful characters. The characters made it simple to explain difficult concepts to even the youngest of students.

Jen Glickley


Community Contributor Kimberley Schumacher of Avallon’s Voice

Johnsburg, IL – Quite an impressive character, Joni Downey’s writing is done with purpose and passion! Now more than 30 books in, she writes about nine positive character traits that encourage strong civic values. Downey’s ‘Characters’ like Respectful Rabbit and Healthy Hippo were created out of the author’s love for children.

Determination is one character trait that could be assigned to Downey herself. A past preschool teacher, she broke out to make a difference for the world of children at large. Her characters have earned the National Promising Practice Award and found their way right back into the classroom. On Facebook you’ll find accolades of appreciation from principals, parents, and program directors.

The books may be written for children, but their messages offer a ‘wonderful visual reminder for society,” Joni told the Northwest Herald in a spotlight of June 25th, 2017. Downey’s Characters, can be found at Autumn’s Living Library on Oct. 5th at McHenry County College, 7:00p.m.

Joni Downey, Lighting the Way, One child at a time…

Kim Schumacher

Contributor, TribLocal

“My children have loved the program! They have written about them and praised each other recognizing the traits. I even had a student dress as a character for Halloween!”

Keri Fadinia

Professional. parent

This program is great for teachers/ parents that want to teach children empathy, compassion and to overall care for their community. I am currently using one of the programs in my class and see a difference

Frances Lozada-Tirado

Family Engagement Specialist at United Way of Miami-Dade

Thank you for writing to the White House. Your letter was referred to the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools for a reply.

We appreciate your taking the time to apprise and follow up with us on the work that is being carried out under the Characters of Character organization. We commend your efforts in volunteering not only your time, but materials and talents to teach our children the values that will help to create a better future and community. Thanks so much for sharing your program and message.

We encourage you to continue to share your program activities and products with school officials at the State and local levels that are charged with making decisions about school curriculum, instructional content, and program activities.

People like you who identify a need and develop programs like yours are vital resources to teachers, parents, students and the community at large.

Again, thank you for writing to apprise us of your success in promoting the importance of teaching civic virtue and positive character traits. We wish you continued success in all of your future endeavors.

Kevin Jennings

Assistant Deputy Secretary, U.S. Dept. of Education

It is a real pleasure to recommend Mrs. Joni Downey’s program on Character Development. We had numerous positive comments in regards to Mrs. Downey’s presentation to kindergarten through fifth grade students at Canterbury School. Our students loved her characters, which include, Manners Monkey and Friendship Frog. All of her characters help children in making good decisions.

We had some hesitation about including the fifth grade students in the presentation; however, we found that Mrs. Downey does an excellent job of adapting her presentation to the age of the students.

It is a very exciting to have someone in our community publish a book, as well as a Character Education Program.

Dr. Jan Grote


My daughter was doing a pageant and needed a platform. She was looking for a nonprofit organization that she could use for the platform. She was so excited when she found Characters of Character. She firmly believes that these characteristics need to be taught to children and what a fun way to do it, using the fun characters. She loved her year as Miss Roy (Roy, UT), and talking to the schools about the program. She was proud to represent this organization. Thanks Joni Downey for all your support!

Joni Hill

Miss Roy Utah's mother

Being a doctor, I see patients of different ages. I will say that kids these days DON’T have the discipline and the morals that were instilled in me when I was a kid. Upon hearing about Characters of Character, I applaud Joni’s determination to provide an avenue for kids to learn these skills and morals in a fashion that they can relate to. As we all know, these things are taught at a young age by our parents. But if they aren’t getting taught this at home, where will they get exposed to it? Three words: Characters of Character. This program is helping develop the future of our society.

Dr. John Wascow


I am not only a board member of characters of character but an educator who uses characters of character to teach children about good character traits. I use all the characters in my classroom to gain interest and trust from my student’s. We have discussions about the characters and their traits. The cuteness of the characters attracts my students and they don’t even realize their learning character education. I can’t think of another character education curriculum that can impact and teach my student’s these life-changing traits. I encourage my students to model the character traits. It’s so enlightening when I hear children discussing these traits without any teacher instruction. This is how I know the characters and their traits are reaching my student’s. It is not rare to hear shout outs of “Do’er Duck Never Gives Up!” in our classroom



Characters of Character is a brilliant organization that encourages kids to reach their full potential. As a teacher’s assistant, I witnessed first-hand how the Characters taught the kids important life lessons. Characters of Character is truly making a positive impact on the future generation.

Derek Stass


I was working at an elementary school that Joni first introduced her Characters of Character. I saw first hand how enthusiastic her approach was and how excited the children were to learn about them. In a world where it seems like values and simple manners are disappearing, it is so nice to know that somewhere our children are learning these valuable life lessons. I truly believe every child should experience this program, they will surely benefit


Jackie Oregon


Character of Characters is truly innovated for the children. In the world we live in, everyone is under so much stress (work or family) that we sometimes forget the most important part, OUR CHILDREN. Character of Characters enforces the values of everyday life.  They teach us that getting along with everybody, reaching out to people who are less fortunate and just to  be kind and a caring person. Our children need that enforcement. The Characters make this learning process fun to the children and it also instills that getting this education from a cute animal will make them stay in school, explore the possibilities of excelling in life. This was a great idea Joni came up with and I know she has lots of support from friends and family. I just wish this wonderful program would be accepted in all if not most of the per-elementary schools. It’s worth the investment to the education sector

Katrina Kass

Professional, parent

As a home schooling mom, I’m IN LOVE with the Characters of Character! It’s fantastic to find such great curricula for each of the character traits I want my kids to know and live every day. The characters are likable and friendly, and children can easily relate. Joni has done a great job introducing us to the characters that quickly become children’s’ friends. What a delightful find!

Tina Kreischer

Communication Advisor and Coach

If you have not sat down with Joni … you are missing out! She has enough energy for three people plus. Joni is giving children the opportunity of a lifetime by getting to know her “characters” … it will change their life. Thank you Joni for giving our children the tools to deal with the world.

Suszan A. Worzala

Professional, Insurance By Suszan

Characters of Character offers “live” or print lessons for use in the classroom. A very fun way to teach children character education.

Bill Dodds

Executive Director at Illiniois ASCD, Executive Director at Illiniois ASCD

Joni’s imagination is endless and her passion for helping others is immeasurable.
The characters she has developed are endearing to children and adults. Her curriculum can be applied in formal educational settings as well as home school.
The lessons and character building have real life everyday living applications.
I highly recommend getting to know Joni and her Characters of Character.

Frank Hostika

Professional, Independent Associate Legal Shield

I am a preschool/kindergarten teacher at a private school in New Jersey. Teaching compassion to students at this age has proven to be a bit of a challenge so I began to use the Warm-Hearted Walrus in my classroom. The students are responding very well. I read the story to go along with the character and challenged each student to become more like Warm-Hearted Walrus. If they were able to do it, each child would receive the awards provided in the package. It is such a simple concept but has made a great improvement in how the students talked and respond to each other. I keep the painted character poster around the classroom to remind the students to be warm-hearted. I recommend the Characters of Character to any teacher that wants to encourage a pleasant and cooperative environment for their students.

Erin Spirek

Teacher, Director

“My students loved making the Behavior Bear puppets and spoke of this character for the remainder of our school year in first grade! (and this was without a costume)



It is with pleasure that I present this letter of support for the Characters of Character. I worked with Joni to offer the Characters of Character programs to our community. I found the classes to be very educational. The characters taught good values and traits, and participants enjoyed the classes. I feel  the program provides a real value to parents and children who attend.

Andrew Gemmell

Superintendent of Recreation LITH

The Character of Characters are beautifully illustrated, all with extremely important messages to teach our children/grandchildren. Joni has done an outstanding job creating these Characters. Was thrilled to share these with our grandchildren. These beautiful/cheerful books teach children in such an exciting way about many positive qualities to achieve for. Am very grateful that these wonderful books are available. Thank you for all your hard work Joni to create such amazing Characters of Character!

Melinda Baugh


Mrs. Downey’s Characters of Character provided our kindergarten through fourth grade students with excellent models for core character development. The students identified with the characters and were excited to participate in activities involving them. This program is an exceptional cornerstone for teaching social skills and tolerance to children.

Kathy Patton Strott

School Psychologist

We saw the Characters at the Chicago Kids Expo. Great work! Thank you for your dedication in reaching out to young children, especially mine. My daughter had a coloring page of all the characters that were available at the expo and we discussed the character traits of each. This is also a great learning resource for home school groups. I hope you find a way to reach the thousands of home school children in the Chicago area.


Professional, Bellafabric

Joni is a wonderful, compassionate, gifted woman who’s love for children and core values is obvious when you see her interact with children as we did see at our event this spring! I would highly recommend Joni from Characters with Characters!

Betty Jarvi

Professional, ChapelHill Body Works

Characters of Character have been going to Chesterbook Academy throughout the past year teaching different character traits to the children. The program has had a wonderful impact on the children here. The different animal characters keep the interest of the preschool aged children especially while discussing some of the hard to grasp concepts such as self-esteem and respect. The children identity with the characters, and are excited to have the characters visit. They love being read to and want to hear more about the different characters. The children became more aware of themselves and others and how they feel or treat each other on a daily basis. Reinforcement from the teachers and tying it into what they discuss with the children also kept this momentum in the classroom. For example, if children were having a hard time with saying “please” and “Thank you” and using their manners appropriately the teachers would ask the children, “What words would Manners Monkey use right now?” This program also helped the teachers to introduce these same concepts to the children without having to come up with a story themselves. Each “Character” has his own short story ready for the teachers to read to the children with ample room to expand on each concept as they read through the book. Each page gives space for teachers to ask the children questions involved them in the understanding of each trait by giving their own examples and experiences. They can also get ideas and valuable reproducible from the different booklets included in each trait.
The parents have given good feedback as well to having a formal character education program at our school. With the topic of bullying being more prevalent these days the parents like that we are starting the children early with character education. Parents are even talking about which “Character” is coming next to visit us and getting the children excited about each visit.
Characters of Character has been a wonderful addition to our program and helped to reinforce some of the concepts the teachers were already talking about with the children as well as introduce new concepts to the children.

Sandy Jenner

Principal, Chesterbrook Academy