Since it’s founding in 1986, Blessed Sacrament Catholic School, through its mission as an educator, has generally conveyed and applied the importance of Character Education for its students. Over the past several years, the administration, staff, and faculty focused these efforts toward an integrated and formalized process of character education. As a result, Blessed Sacrament School was awarded the National School of Character designation in 2009. They have also been awarded eight National Promising Practice awards.
Our mission to help our students develop within society as young people of good character is a goal shared with the national Character Education Partnership. To reach this goal we have set these tasks before ourselves:
- Teach all students, youngest to oldest, what constitutes and defines good character.
- Instill the value and importance of developing good character.
- Aid the Development of good character traits.
- Reinforce the qualities of good character.
- Engage the entire community in the pursuit of Character Education.
The process of formalizing character education at Blessed Sacrament demonstrated the need to collaborate with students, parents, and the entire staff . The question of how to create a caring community brought the opportunity to answer the question even as we asked it. As a school, we have always stressed the importance of service to others. The recognition of this goal, and others, within the character education program spurred us on to obtain a deeper and greater discernment of individual and communal character traits. This, in turn, offered us the opportunity to concentrate a general effort into a truly remarkable accomplishment.
The Character education initiative at Blessed Sacrament Catholic School is applied at all levels and for all ages. Every grade participates. As this covers children from age 3 in our Preschool program through to the oldest students attending Grade 8, we affect students at the levels of Preschool, Pre-K, Elementary, and Middle School ages. With each passing year we build upon the energy and achievements of our students’ previous personal development. This serves to provide more precise targets for our future goals and development as a community.
A practical application of our program progressed when we established a defined virtue/character in association with our various service projects. We discovered that by associating an act with a concept, students and teachers were able to deepen the discussion of both. In the setting of the classroom, as well as the locations of the projects, students came to a fuller understanding of the effects they could have on others and the value of those acts upon their own makeup. By offering the entire experience to the students, and then asking them to reflect on the whole, students began the process of better understanding themselves by recognizing traits that guided their preferences. The projection of this then draws the students’ attention towards what is possible, either fostering a trait or perhaps mending one. As a Catholic school, the connection of the virtue/character to the action/service naturally culminated in the example of the Saint/role model. The final outcome can be simplified as “concept / act / example.” The school now publishes the monthly formalized “Saint, Virtue, Action” document which is displayed prominently at two separate locations in the building where they remain for the entire school year. A theme for the year is selected and posted for the year.
The students are not the only beneficiaries of this program. The formalization of the character education program has led to professional development opportunities for our teachers and staff as well. One such opportunity is the “Love and Logic” program. The school has provided in-house professional development in this area for our teachers at their monthly in-service program. We have found “Love and Logic” to be an effective program in our overall strategy to achieve the goal of a caring culture in our school community.
The future of our character education program at Blessed Sacrament School is actively secured through annual reviews of the program, the creation of SSOC portfolio submissions, narrative writing, surveys addressed to the teachers, staff, and parents, and acknowledgement of input from the stakeholders on Character Education Quality Standards. Through these endeavors we continue to not only expand the scope of our program, but we also enlarge the community involved in the overall goal. We believe that character education is of great importance, existing alongside the daily role of academics. It’s strength grows a greater and better community, one that contributes to a greater and better world.
Take a drive down our street some time. You won’t be surprised to see our banner which announces “Faith. Academics. Character.” We are firm believers that all three traits must exist in our curriculum. We are proud to send our graduates into the world and to their future, confident that they have the character to live lives that are not only successful, but also, good.