Gary Smit BIO
Lombard School District 44 (IL)
Gary Smit knows education. He was a superintendent for 25 years in Illinois and Wisconsin and has been a school principal and classroom teacher. His expertise from being in the trenches is evident in the workshops and trainings he leads on CHARACTER COUNTS! and school leadership.
Gary is a trainer for the CHARACTER COUNTS! Student Development Workshop and Pursuing Victory With Honor. He also conducts the international trainings for CHARACTER COUNTS! and serves as project coordinator for district-wide initiatives. He is the author of the book, Instilling Touchstones of Character, and has written the content for the Way To Go series for CHARACTER COUNTS!
Taking the perspective that the goal of education is not only to have students do their best academic work but to be their best self, Gary provides educators with useful and relevant strategies to use in building classrooms and schools of character. An attention-grabbing and practical presenter, Gary gives keynote addresses for schools and districts that speak not only to the head but the heart. No one leaves without grasping the passion and desire to live a life in which character truly matters.
Carrie Davis Marchant BIO
Foundations for Life Principles
Carrie Davis Marchant was born in a small rural town in Southwest Virginia. Growing up in the spiritually and culturally rich Appalachian community helped shape Carrie’s values of integrity, honesty, caring, community involvement, and especially her ability to never give up and look at adversity as an opportunity. Over the years, personal experience honed and strengthened those core beliefs.
Personal trauma at an early age drove a desire to be an advocate for youth, families and those in need, and reshape the future on an ethical basis. Carrie has many years of experience in facilitation (developing her own unique style), curricula design, effecting change as an ethicist and master trainer for the Josephson Institute of Ethics since 2000, bringing about progressive change with experiential learning and hands-on experience with youth, excelling in making many positive culture changes to adult probation programs, thriving as an adjunct professor in criminology and succeeding happily in her greatest accomplishment of raising four wonderful children.
Carrie has written and self-published several very successful and needs specific curricula for at-risk youth and their families that have proven successful for over 18 years. She received her Master’s Degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice from East Tennessee State University. She has served as adjunct faculty for the Criminal Justice / Criminology Department at Northeast State Community College in Blountville, TN and as adjunct professor at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, TN.
Carrie is the Single Member/President of Foundations for Life Principles (FLP), incorporating all her vast experience, education, and drive into a multifaceted ethics-based organization with an array of services offered.
Dr. Raquel Rasuk is a Clinical Psychologist and has been a Master Trainer of Character Counts! for the past seven years. As part of her academic formation, she has obtained from the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico a Doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology and Bachelors in Arts with a concentration in Criminology. Dr Rasuk’s professional commitment has allowed her to perform multiple roles. First, she worked in the courts as a Risk Assessment Officer for a period of 9 years. Later, she found interest and enthusiasm in training professionals of excellence, allowing her to work as a University Professor of Psychology and Statistics. Among her work related to teaching is the co-mentoring of the Association of Students of Psychology. Dr. Rasuk’s training in Clinical Psychology has enabled her to work in psychiatric settings with diverse populations, such as veterans, adults, adolescents and children. Her formative experiences are based on her commitment to work the therapeutic process as a significant opportunity for learning and transformation, both for her own growth and that of the participants.
In recent years, her work experience has increased this concern and commitment for the general welfare of our society, particularly through instruction and education. Such interest has led her to become actively involved in offering workshops and trainings to students, teachers and parents as to promote academic, emotional and social well-being. Dr. Rasuk has been actively developing workshops for teachers and schools related to various educational frameworks that might promote greater student achievements and parental integration. As a Master Trainer for Character Counts, she works avidly providing Character Development Seminars in Puerto Rico, Latin America and United States. For the past year, she has been completing licensing requirements, specializing in Geriatric Psychology in New York City.
Randy Doerksen BIO
“You never quite know the moment in a child’s life when you’ll make a difference for a lifetime” forms the foundation of Randy Doerksen’s philosophy of education and leadership. Prior to retiring in June of 2017, Randy served as principal at Plum Creek Elementary in the Buhler Unified School District in south-central Kansas.
In 2008, Randy played a key role as a member of the team that introduced CHARACTER COUNTS! to the Buhler school district and served as one of the co-chairs of the district’s Character Education Strategic Planning Team. Since the implementation of CC!, it has become the framework for relationships and collaboration throughout the district. Randy has worked to enhance the visibility of CHARACTER COUNTS! across the state of Kansas by co-authoring the proclamation for CHARACTER COUNTS! Week in Kansas.
Prior to moving to Buhler, Doerksen served as principal in the De Soto Unified School District in the Kansas City metropolitan area. In 2002, he was a member of the team that implemented CHARACTER COUNTS! in the De Soto School District. He was also part of an area-wide leadership team that created the Western Shawnee Leadership Forum that brought local leaders together to discuss the rapidly growing area and the development of character throughout the community.
Randy received recognition for his leadership from the Autism Society of Johnson County as an “Advocate for All Children.” In 2004, Randy was named the “2004 Outstanding Administrator” by the Council for Exceptional Children of Northeast Kansas Chapter #436. In 2007, the Kansas Parent Teacher Association (P.T.A.) named Randy the “2007 Kansas Educator of the Year.”
Doerksen holds a master’s degree in Administration from the University of Kansas and a degree in Music Education from Kansas State University. He received his District Administrative Leadership Licensure through Wichita State University.
Working in and serving the community are important parts of his leadership. Randy currently serves as the Coordinator of Adult & Youth Music Ministries / Parish Visitor at Trinity United Methodist Church. He is a member of the Reno County Extension 4-H/Youth Program Development Council and has served as a member of the Board of Directors of Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Reno County. Randy also serves on the Education Advisory Council at Central Christian College of Kansas in McPherson and the Teacher Education Advisory Council at Sterling College.
Randy and wife Pam are the parents of Kyle, a graduate of Buhler High School and currently a student at the University of Kansas.
Director of Student Services
Downey Unified School District