When meeting with parents or even prospective families, I am often asked how we teach Character Education at Morgan Park Academy. I don’t think anyone has ever asked me why we teach it. We all share the basic belief that our children should have strong character and be good people. But there is so much more to the benefits of being a school with a passion for Character Education and how it is woven into our curriculum.
We begin teaching and modeling strong character in Preschool with The MPA Way: Be Kind and Do Your Best. Kindness comes first for a reason. Plenty of children do very well academically; earning top scores, winning awards, and receiving recognition for their achievements, but are they kind? Do they work well with others? Can they resolve conflict? Do they show empathy? Do they know how to stand up for others? Do they stand up for what they believe in? Do they feel safe to be themselves?
I have witnessed the benefits of what Character Education does to a child’s moral, intellectual, and emotional development. These students report feeling safer because they know their fellow students value respect, responsibility, compassion and hard work. We teach them to lead with acceptance and kindness. Our students learn at a young age that using their words can resolve conflict, help a friend or inspire others. In Barker Hall you may hear anything from kind words from The Compliment Chair to role-playing real life situations while students work together to come up with solutions. Schools that teach Character Education report higher academic achievement, less anxiety in students, improved attendance, fewer disciplinary issues, and overall happier students. Students are free to be themselves and the world could use more of our independent thinkers and global leaders.