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Character Education In Practice

Character Education In Practice
Kathleen Kearney, LCHS Assistant Principal

Every August, I have the privilege of training our newly-hired faculty and staff in all things Liberty Common.  This week of new-staff training is (my apologies in advance for the overused cliché) much like “drinking from a firehose." Administrators and other Liberty staff members assist in training the newest additions to our teaching team on everything from philosophy to policies and procedures, and many other topics in between.

There is so much important knowledge and information imparted during this week, and all of it is necessary and valuable.  However, one topic stands out as the most impactful and substantive session – character education.

The training itself is fairly straightforward.  I begin the session by providing an overview of the Foundation Stones at the elementary level as well as the Capstone Virtues at the high school.  We then provide insight into one of our school’s founding books, Why Johnny Can’t Tell Right from Wrong by Mr. William Kilpatrick, as well as the discipline process as it relates to character education (please refer to Mr. Torgun Lovely’s article entitled “Character Education in the Discipline Process” from What Every Liberty Parent Needs to Know – it’s excellent and goes into more specific detail on this topic.)  New teachers then learn how they can (and should) incorporate these virtues into their classrooms, both formally and informally.

Why might character education, out of all the topics, be of the greatest importance? The answer is simple – character education is at the core of everything we do here at Liberty Common, from a student’s first day of kindergarten until they walk across the stage at their graduation ceremony (although, for them, it doesn’t end there).

The LCHS Keystone of Wisdom (defined on the signs hanging on every wall at the high school as “understanding and being inclined toward truth, beauty, goodness, and perfection”) is something every graduate takes with them throughout their life, and it serves them well.  Wisdom is not easily gleaned, however, and it’s nothing new.  In fact, it is timeless.  It’s often hard-earned, through life experience as well as many, many hours in the classroom with our world-class instructors, discussing the Capstone virtues and applying them to each discipline.  Wisdom is also often attained outside the classroom through co-curricular activities, including athletics, student-life events, and clubs.

I have the distinct honor of having a front-row seat to observe our teachers masterfully weave the Capstone virtues into their instruction.  I also have the opportunity to encounter firsthand how our students exhibit these virtues in their daily lives. 

What does this look like on any given day? It’s watching the majority of students in a ninth-grade class thanking their instructor on their way out for the lesson she just taught, with a few even taking the time to write a quick thank-you note on a Post-It to show Gratitude.

It’s seeing junior-high students arrive early to school and stay late to learn from Mrs. Jeanie Bradley and fellow Star-and-Stripes-Club members in raising and lowering the flags every day, a true display of Patriotism.

It’s noticing a high-school junior display Prudence, Justice, and Temperance by not only choosing to refrain from participating with their peers in poking fun at a younger student struggling with his stack of books and binders in the hallway but actually standing up for him by speaking up against an injustice to their friends.

It’s observing our cross-country runners showing Fortitude, grimacing, and sweating, on the last half-mile of a several-mile-long run in ninety-five-degree heat after a long day of classes.  It’s watching a student who struggles academically put in hours upon hours to perfect an essay for his English class.

I observed each of these examples just last week, and they comprise only a fraction of all of the excellent displays of character that take place both inside and outside of the four walls of our exceptional school.

It’s beautiful, true, good, and perfect, and it’s happening every single day at Liberty Common School.

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