Character Development Program
A hallmark of Tuxedo Park School is our dedication to educating the whole child. Along with our rigorous academic expectations, we prioritize the development of a child’s character. As stated in our mission statement, "Tuxedo Park School nurtures its core values: Be Kind, Be Fair, Be Responsible." Every day - in and out of the classroom - our entire faculty and staff models, teaches and reinforces these values with our students in both planned and organic ways.
For the 2019-2020 school year, we adopted a theme in line with our mission. This year the emphasis of our character program is focused on “Creating Kind, Fair, and Responsible Citizens.” In support of this yearlong theme, our faculty will consistently and thoughtfully introduce age-appropriate concepts and discussions around monthly topics.
Kindness in thoughts: Empathy :: Respect :: Awareness
“Kindness begins with the understanding that we all struggle.” – Charles Glassman
Kindness in words: Compassion :: Sincerity :: Appreciation
"Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless." -Mother Teresa
Kindness in actions: Consideration :: Collaboration :: Friendship
“Kindness is a passport that opens doors and fashions friends. It softens hearts and molds relationships that can last lifetimes.” – Joseph B. Wirthlin
Fairness in thoughts: Perspective :: Acceptance :: Tolerance
“We need to defend the interests of those whom we've never met and never will.”
― Jeffrey D. Sachs
Fairness in words: Truth :: Inclusion :: Compromise
“Being good is easy, what is difficult is being just.” - Victor Hugo
Fairness in actions: Integrity :: Cooperation :: Advocacy :: Justice
“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.
Responsibility in thoughts: Commitment :: Responsibility :: Ownership
“To be a good citizen, it's important to be able to put yourself in other people's shoes and see the big picture. If everything you see is rooted in your own identity, that becomes difficult or impossible.” -Eli Pariser
Responsibility in words: Honesty :: Accountability
“Society can no longer be taken for granted. Your society is you, you are your society. So, be responsible for what happens to your society.” ― Abhijit Naskar
Responsibility in actions: Stewardship :: Leadership :: Perseverance
“The first requisite of a good citizen in this republic of ours is that [one] shall be able and willing to pull his own weight.” -Theodore Roosevelt
“Manliness consists not in bluff, bravado or loneliness. It consists in daring to do the right thing and facing consequences whether it is in matters social, political or other. It consists in deeds not words.” ―Mahatma Gandhi
Character development is an interwoven part of every primary school student’s day. Students in each grade engage in developmentally appropriate routines upon their arrival to school in which they store materials and assignments, greet teachers and friends, and complete a meaningful task. Children then enjoy a morning meeting during which every member of a classroom community is greeted by name and participates in greeting others. Morning meetings also include time for authentic sharing and meaningful group experiences to begin the day on a connected and positive note.
Discussions and activities regarding character and choices are both explicit and implicit in each grade’s curriculum. Topics include themes such as responsibility, respect, cooperation, community, friendship, sportsmanship, conflict resolution, empathy, expressing gratitude, appreciating diversity, and manners. Teachers are responsive to individual student needs and group dynamics in examining these and other themes during morning meetings, assemblies, and other times during the school day. Students explore these topics through stories, poems, role playing, video, songs, and through dialogue with their teachers. The primary school faculty work as a team with students from pre-kindergarten through third grade to develop division-level guidelines and rules that encourage Tuxedo Park School core values of fairness, kindness, and responsibility.
In fourth and fifth grades, students are assigned to a homeroom and one homeroom teacher oversees the group of 10-16 students. In sixth grade, students are in smaller groups of 6-9 students with one advisor. These groupings allow the younger students to connect with their homeroom teacher and work with their classmates. Sixth grade works with an advisor, to smooth the transition to upper school, which will take place the following year. Advisors work closely with students to monitor and encourage them both academically and socially. Throughout the year, for 15 minutes at the start of each day and one 45-minute class period each week, students work with their homeroom or advisory and across grade levels on projects related to character education and life skills. We use the school motto of “Be Kind, Be Fair, Be Responsible” as a framework for our character education program. Activities and discussions cover goal setting, peer relationships, negotiating conflict, discovery of the self and learning styles, and being able to work positively and effectively within a group. Middle school students serve as role models with their buddy classes in the primary school where they often work on community service projects which explore and act upon global issues. The curriculum is fluid and allows for changes at a moment’s notice to react and address students’ needs both individually and as a group.
In the upper school, connections between students, faculty, and parents are reinforced through the advisory program. Building upon the foundations laid in the sixth grade advisory program, students and their parents work with an assigned faculty advisor throughout the course of each year in the upper school. The upper school advisory program operates under the following tenets:
- Each student's intellectual, social, and emotional growth will be supported by a faculty advocate.
- Students' advisors are responsible for monitoring their welfare and growth throughout the course of the year in all areas.
- Advisors act as the primary contact at Tuxedo Park School for the parents of their advisees.
- Advisors will communicate with parents regarding their child's progress at regular intervals during the school year to ensure consistent understanding and support.
Students meet with their advisors for 15 minutes each morning in the upper school. These meetings allow student to be greeted by the same familiar, consistent face each day, and allows advisors to "check-in" with their charges to see how ready they are to meet the challenges of the day. At the end of each day, students return to the advisory "touchstone" by reconnecting with their advisor, reflecting briefly on the day, and shaking hands. In addition to these daily exercises, the advisory groups meet weekly during a 45 minute period. While the meetings can often be fun and informal, advisories follow a curriculum designed to begin goal setting in the early stages of the year, address the innumerable and diverse challenges of adolescence throughout the course of the year, and draw closure at the end of the year with reflection.