Meet Our Team

Project leaders

Ellen Bartling, Ph.D., national director-content and operations

Ellen served in the public schools of Wisconsin for 32 years before joining the Character Formation Project in 2013. Her experience as a classroom teacher, district level director of curriculum, assessment, instruction and staff development, elementary principal, high school principal, and district superintendent brings to the project a depth of practical knowledge about the way students learn and school climate and culture are created.

Throughout her career, Ellen collaborated with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, the University of Wisconsin System, the Wisconsin Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, and the Wisconsin Council for the Social Studies to increase educational experiences for students in global education, world languages, STEM, college and career preparation and character education.

Ellen earned her bachelor’s from UW-Platteville, her master’s from Marian University and her doctorate in urban education from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Jack Preus, Ed.D., director of people development

Jack has more than 10 years’ experience in managing critical professional growth initiatives in K-12 education. Passionate about helping people grow, Jack leads the People Development function for Open Sky Education, ensuring that all teachers, staff, principals and National Team members are supported, inspired and equipped to grow intentionally as serving leaders. Prior to this role, Jack served Open Sky Education as the National Director of Educational Innovation, collaboratively leading core educational strategic initiatives to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of current educational operations, build capacity to serve more children, and expand the organization’s overall capabilities and impact.

Prior to joining Open Sky Education, Jack served as the Assistant Principal for academics at Orange Lutheran High School in Orange, California. While at Orange Lutheran, he had been charged with developing and executing both near-term and long-term plans for academics, and provided leadership, vision, and strategic direction for Orange Lutheran’s curriculum, instruction, assessment and school improvement initiatives. Jack began his career in education as a successful History and Theology teacher as well as an award-winning Cross Country and Track and Field coach to hundreds of students at Orange Lutheran High School.

Jack completed his doctorate in educational leadership (Ed.D.) at UCLA in 2011 focusing his research on an inquiry-based approach to new teacher training. He earned his bachelor’s in history from the University of Missouri – Columbia, his master’s in curriculum and instruction from Concordia University – Irvine.

Andrew Neumann, Ph.D., project leader and co-founder

Andrew is an educational entrepreneur driven to ensure all children in America have access to excellent learning opportunities that maximize their potential to fulfill Greater Purpose and live flourishing lives. His passion is to contribute to building an educational ecosystem in America which will close global and national achievement gaps, build deeply held, internally driven character, and provide the option for faith formation to be an integral part of education for all who desire it regardless of a family’s income or zip code.

Andrew began his career as a teacher serving students at the high school and college levels while finishing his Ph.D. in educational mathematics. In 2006, he joined Open Sky Education (formerly Educational Enterprises) and serves as its Executive Chair/CEO. In this role, he supports the team to advance its mission, which includes the growth of its school networks (HOPE Christian Schools and EAGLE public charter schools), Christian wraparound programs (Compass Educational Programs), and the Character Formation Project.

In addition to his work at Open Sky Education, Andrew works to advance this mission for children by participating in a variety of speaking engagements as well as serving on the boards of mission-aligned organizations including School Choice Wisconsin, the Alliance for Choices in Education and the Institute for Missional Visioning.

Contributing Writers

The Character Formation Project’s robust content — including its appealing narratives and thoughtful lesson plans — are the result of hundreds of writers who have been trained to apply the unique character formation process to the vivid stories we’ve collected. Our writers group includes educators, parents and historians with diverse backgrounds and a firm grasp on the importance of character formation for individual lives and for society.