At Crossroads, we believe that education is not just about “content” but about what Martin Luther King, Jr. called “the content of our character.” Our Lower School character education program promotes such virtues as respect, responsibility, honesty, and compassion; the Middle School program focuses on the cardinal virtues of justice, prudence, fortitude, and temperance. In each month, we focus on a specific set of virtues which are explored through a morning gathering and character education classes, the posting of inspiring definitions on classroom bulletin boards, the daily reading of fine literature highlighting the virtues, and a focus on community service, the program nurtures the desire to be good as well as the habits of good behavior. Readings in history and language arts and writing projects are integrated to explore and fully appreciate the meaning of each of these virtues.
Middle School Character Education Curriculum
Character building in the Crossroads Middle School is a part of everyday life at Crossroads. Class meetings, interactions between students and teachers and students and students, discussions about characters in literature, and Middle School issues are discussed in ways that emphasize character development for students and teachers. Middle School students participate in a wide variety of activities during their character education classes as well. For example:
- The students were introduced to the concept of Cardinal Virtues (justice, fortitude, temperance, prudence) and how the Golden Mean can be applied to each Cardinal Virtue in individuals’ daily lives.
- Students read biographies of famous people in history and analyzed each individual’s character traits. Students then created wanted posters for the good traits. This focused on all of the character traits associated with cardinal virtues.
- Students participated in Courage to Care Lessons 1-3 (Understanding Power, Caring for Others, Being Mindful) that included developing and signing a class contract of how to make this the best class ever. These classes included a focus on building the sixth grade class community by using respect, responsibility, kindness, compassion, self-control, patience, and honesty.
- We also used a booklet of activities coordinated by Cardinal Virtue called Stepping Stones. These are home and school activities that students use to choose, plan, present, and reflect.
- Students crafted class agreements that focused on the virtues of temperance and prudence.
- By participating in the Ben Franklin Experiment, students selected virtues to focus on weekly and to set measurable behavioral goals. The focus for this activity was self-control and perseverance.
- Students crafted handmade thank-you notes to Kendall retirement home residents. This activity focused on courtesy and gratitude.
- Students prepared for their Dickinson Museum visit that focused on courtesy and courage.
- Both sixth and seventh grade classes worked on mindfulness practice that emphasizes self-control, patience, and integrity.
- The class focused on developing leadership skills in a variety of ways. Students reviewed kinds of leaders and specific character traits associated with leaders. Students prepared and led class discussions about issues both in the Middle School and around the world. This activity involves all of the Cardinal Virtues.
- Students worked on raising money for the Kiva project.
- Students watched and commented on the movie “A Christmas Carol.” This activity focused on kindness, respect, compassion, and building empathy.
- Middle School students participated in Hulbert Outdoor Center cross-grade activities for three days and reflected on their experiences when they arrived back at school. This experience focused on respect, kindness, friendship, and courage.
- Students in all grades developed a program for their grandparents on Grandparents Day. This experience focused on gratitude and generosity.
- Middle School students visited the Haven, a homeless shelter, to develop an understanding of homelessness in our community and this kicked off the Penny Drive (a drive to raise money for individuals staying at the shelter). This experience focused on compassion and justice.
- Middle School students chose to work at various agencies including the homeless shelter, the humane society, a nursery school, a senior center, and a building recycling center. One group also took thank yous to area town offices and EMS, fire, and police stations, and another group recorded books for kindergartners during one afternoon. This experience focused on all of the cardinal virtues including
justice, fortitude, temperance, and prudence.
- All Middle School students developed and choreographed a program for the Veterans Day assembly. This work focused on citizenship and loyalty.