Markkula Center for Applied Ethics


Gina Marquez

Gina Marquez

Gina Marquez

Teacher and instructional coach, Liberty High School

Whether on campus or in the community, the Ethics Center is committed to helping form the character of the next generation.  The Character Based Literacy (CBL) Curriculum, which integrates character education with the language arts for middle and high school students, is one of our enduring programs for young people.  Last year, Liberty High School in San Jose became a new CBL subscriber. 

Liberty High teacher and instructional coach Gina Marquez serves a group of students who are dealing with tough challenges.  Some are homeless. Some are supporting their families or have children of their own.  Many have missed a lot of school and are behind in credits or have been expelled.  They may have social and emotional disorders or come from dysfunctional families. 

Marquez has seen the Character Based Literacy Curriculum work for these young people.  First, on the literacy side, 44 percent of her students showed growth in their reading ability last year. If that sounds modest, it’s more than double the rate of growth in the previous year.  “They’re enjoying reading, which is huge for our kids,” Marquez says. 

Marquez is also seeing growth in character.  The program’s focus on “what it means to be a good member of society” encourages students to think about their own choices,” Marquez has found.  “I see it in their writing, where they acknowledge and own the things they’ve done that may have been irresponsible.  It helps them identify their good traits and where they need growth.” 

Because CBL is organized into themes by virtues, “it puts these traits on the student’s map,” Marquez says.  “They can see, ‘Oh, that’s what responsibility looks like; that’s what courage looks like. Those are traits I might want to develop myself.’”