Montgomery School

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Character Education

Character is like a tree and reputation its shadow. The shadow is what we think it is and the tree is the real thing.
Abraham Lincoln

We all want our children to be respectful, to care about others, to work hard, and be ethical citizens.

In study after study, parents prioritize their children’s happiness and good character when thinking about education and desired outcomes. No one wants to sacrifice essential academic foundations in the process of developing integrity and compassion, but educators and doctors have long understood the connection between strong character and academic achievement (Wagner & Ruch 2015). Because children spend more waking hours in school than they do at home, teachers share the responsibility for helping children develop an understanding of and commitment to ethical behavior, habits of perseverance, and an open mind and heart.

Character education is an integrated part of Montgomery’s curriculum. It is infused in daily life—in every lesson, reading, social interaction, athletic contest, discussion, and response to inevitable missteps. There are intentionally woven threads of content, modeling, and practice that combine to build a deeply rooted understanding and inspire purposeful action. In turn both subtle and overt, teachers: 

  • Create daily opportunities for students to practice caring for and helping others
  • Guide activities in which students listen intently to each other and process multiple perspectives
  • Model a moral high ground while making instruction relevant and connecting values to how children understand the world
  • Help students build positive coping skills and manage destructive feelings

In addition to the ongoing commitment of character development in every Montgomery day, several specific initiatives deliberately teach the habits that accompany success in school and in life.

  • Hands-on service learning projects connect classroom studies to improving the lives of others and are concrete demonstrations of how every student can make a difference.
  • Twice weekly Chapel programs, presented by both faculty and students, focus on topics that foster ethical and moral discovery. 
  • During daily family style lunches, rotating groups of faculty and students share meaningful guided conversations and healthy meals. 
  • Montgomery’s school counselor meets regularly with classrooms and advisory groups to discuss relational topics like friendship, loyalty, and generosity.
  • In Lower School, the Character Education program promotes positive social-emotional habits with developmentally appropriate activities and lessons. By modeling, reinforcing, and practicing principles of good character, students learn to manage emotions, demonstrate empathy, and resolve conflicts when they arise. 
  • The middle school students’ advisory program includes dedicated time to consider sixth, seventh and eighth graders’ most pressing developmental issues. This shared experience supports student growth with both peer and adult affirmation.
  • Morning classroom meetings set the tone for respectful learning and establish a climate of trust and collaboration.
  • The culminating eighth grade Design For a Difference project is a year-long study of a person or organization that is making a difference in the world. Students draw on their entire Montgomery experience to fully understand and demonstrate what it means to have impact. (read more)