Dr. Dawn Cunnion, Associate Head of School, asserts: “There are a lot of schools that can teach traditional core subjects and do it really well; we are also creating students who really have a strong moral compass and can go out there and be ethical leaders.” Core values are the foundation of the Brentwood community and the character education program at Brentwood. Students note that helping others is rewarding and can also be a lot of fun. Teachers engage students’ moral reasoning by incorporating current issues and events into their academic content and address ethical issues that arise by allowing students to develop service learning projects. As one faculty member puts it, “The teaching staff feels comfortable taking risks here.” All stakeholders have embraced a common language. One parent comments, “I was looking for a school that would help my child look outside of her own world, and I found it here.”
Outreach: During their 2011-12 award year, Brentwood staff gave several conference presentations, met with visiting educators, and authored a book chapter.
Excerpt from “Making Our Pact: Lower School Programs for Character Development,” written by Laura Stahoski, edited by David Streight and Jennifer Aanderud of the Center for Spiritual and Ethical Education.
Lesson Plan: Friendship Letters
The premise of the assignment is to help students realize the power of kind words. The letters not only increase the self-esteem of the recipients but when writing, students learn the importance of reflecting on others in an effort to acknowledge other people’s strengths, thereby making people feel good about themselves. The hope is that students will internalize the feelings when writing and receiving the letters.