Collegiate Cornerstones: Building a Culture of Character
Building a Culture of Character
ISACS 2012 Annual Conference
November 8, 2012
Carey Goldstein, Assistant Head of Middle School
Marybelle Estman, Upper School Counselor
The big picture…
BULLYCIDE: Every 30 minutes a teenager attempts suicide due to bullying.
Amanda Todd, Age
Desiree Dryer, Age 16
Daniel Scruggs, Age 12
Chris Howell, Age 17
Carl Joseph, Age 11
Ashlyn Connor,Age 10
Ty Smalley, Age
Corinne Wilson, 11
Age 12 4
Schools as Countercultural?
From Pat Bassett, President NAIS, 2004
Values of the Popular Culture
vs. Independent School Values:
• Winning at all costs
(cheating for advantage)
(sportsmanship, no cut policies)
• Conspicuous Consumption
(clothes & cars)
(modeling good citizenship)
• Cultural Tribalism(Uniqueness)
School as Community
(asserting one’s differences)
(finding what is common to many)
• Parental Definitions of Success
School Definitions of Success
(contributing to the common good)
The small picture…
What are we more likely to see in our schools?
Our kids usually know the right thing to do if asked.
How do we support students doing the right thing and the wrong?
- We often wondered, are we doing enough?
- Administration asked, can we do more?
- NAIS, Character Education: Good to Great
-Opened our eyes to what we could be doing better
- Created cornerstones
- Created a comprehensive JK-12 scope and sequence
How did we start?
- We had to ask, what does our mission say?
- Louisville Collegiate School prepares diverse students in a
challenging and supportive environment to demonstrate
outstanding academic preparation, extraordinary character,
and confident leadership for a lifetime of global engagement and
- How do we share the mission with our students…
Louisville Collegiate School’s core principles guide our community and its programs,
initiatives, and distinctive culture:
• Commitment to achieve academic and personal excellence
• Determination to fulfill individual potential
• Creativity and independent thought
• Adaptability to change
• Balance in development of mind, body and spirit
• Respect for each individual
• Support for each member of the school family
• Celebration of differences
• Self-discipline in all actions
• Understanding of our global community
• Courage in the responsible exercise of freedoms
• Participation in civic life and community leadership
Collegiate students will not lie.
Lying is the conscious creation of a false impression, the willful denial of
facts, or the breaking of a pledge.
Collegiate students will not cheat.
Cheating is giving, receiving, or attempting to give unauthorized help
that could result in an unfair advantage in completing school work. It
is also the representation of another’s work as one’s own (plagiarism).
Collegiate students will not steal.
Stealing is the taking of anything without the consent of the owner.
So how did we get to four words?
- Core principles
- Honor Code
- On campus constituency groups
- Parents, teachers and students
- Administrative team
The five most commonly cited in research and across all religions
and cultures are…
(equity and justice)
(self discipline and reliability)
(civility and deference)
From Pat Basset, President NAIS
How do we define these words?
Upper School Senate declares “The Year of Respect”
Middle School students create Respect video. http://youtu.be/UnQM38XbMM8
With some help from Webster's…
Short and sweet
Teaches students not so much WHAT the rules are but WHY the
Focuses on relationships not rules.
Emphasizes the importance of providing choices.
Fosters understanding about the people who have been harmed.
Never becomes a judgment on the student’s personhood.
Focuses on the behavior.
Asks what needs to happen to make it right.
They need to be quick and easy definitions.
Upper School Honor Board created a video, “ What Honor means at
How did we get community buy in?
We had a “soft” opening
We spread the word
The board, the PA, the faculty, the alumni, the strategic planning committee, dad’s club
We created opportunities to bring them up with students
Teachable moments, town hall meetings, character assemblies
We focused most of the overt lessons in the lower school and more subtle
ones in the middle and upper
- We created visual reminders of the four words and our mission statement.
In all three divisions.
How do we plan on assessing? Is this working?
We created a student culture survey
• The Survey was administered to students in October 2011
• They were asked to put their answers on a scantron sheet.
• It was anonymous
• We surveyed kids in grades 7-12
• The response choices were:
Sample survey items
1. I look forward to arriving at Collegiate every day.
2. I feel very much a part of the Collegiate community.
3. Most students seem to want other students to do well.
4. I believe that Collegiate students are kind to one another.
5. I have at least one adult on campus that I trust and can talk to when I
am worried about something.
6. I am certain that my teachers want me to do well (i.e., to succeed).
7. I feel that when teachers must discipline me (i.e., correct me in front
of others), they do so without embarrassing, belittling or demeaning
8. I am proud to be a Collegiate student.
Changes we made since the cornerstones…
- The upper school student leadership is highlighting one
cornerstone this year, Respect.
- SLP- Student Leadership Program
- Pins and magnets
- Character enrichment
- Created student leadership in the middle school- MSAMiddle School Ambassadors
- Student made videos
-Honor and Respect
- “Guidance guidelines” in lower school
- Cornerstone chipmunk for primary grades
Room for improvement
Include the cornerstones in course descriptions
Include the cornerstones in goals
Continue to weave the cornerstones into the fabric of
Work intentionally to create a culture of character.
Suggested strategies for building a GREAT
character education program
• Form a “Task Force” with a group of individuals in your
school community that are committed to making
character education a top priority.
• Research current trends and successful programs
• Hold “Think Tank” type meetings with each sector of
your school community to get input and feedback.
• Self Study – Assess strengths and areas for
• Get administrative support early.
• Create a “Scope and Sequence” to intentionally
weave the core values into your curriculum.
JK-12 Scope and Sequence
*Who am I?
*Seek First to
*The Nature of
* STI’s and
Responsibility Compassion Leadership
*Begin with the End
*How Your Brain Learns
*Test Taking Without
*Meet the College
*Sharpening the Saw
*Dealing with Stress
*Types of Addictions
*Signs of Suicide
*How to help a
• Narrow down the agreed upon list of core values to just
three or four words.
• Spread the word.
“Character Education is
not another subject to
be added to the plate,
…it IS the plate.”
(What Works In Character Education:
A Research-Driven Guide for Educators, 2005)
-What evidence do we have that we are fulfilling the character part of our mission? (ISACS)
Include administration early
-Character principles must be woven throughout the fabric of the school.
Simple and easy to memorize
-3-5 words to “hang your hat on”
-Buy in is huge to make this work, people get behind things they are included
Easy to integrate
-not “extra” work for teachers or a passing fad