Leading with Data, Research, and Heart
An Honorable Mention for Caring @ Sion
I am thrilled to share that the Grade School received an Honorable Mention for our Character Education program, Caring @ Sion, by Character.org! It is a true honor and accomplishment to have received this designation after starting our program in the 2017-2018 school year.
Character, how we behave and engage with the world, is a core tenet of 21st-century education. As the world becomes smaller due to globalization, it also becomes more complex and interconnected with every passing day. This requires that we help students develop skillsets that will enable them to develop the personal values and virtues for ethical citizenship and leadership in a global world.
When we speak about character, we refer to all the terms it encompasses: agency, attitudes, social and emotional skills, behaviors, personality, values, beliefs, and soft skills, among others (Fadel, 2015). These, together with the Sion charism and mission, comprise the foundations of our Character Education program. Our curriculum was designed in-house, drawing from world-wide research-based standards to include the Making Caring Common Project (Harvard University), CASEL, Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, and the IB Learner Profile. Caring @ Sion is a school-wide program which is completely integrated throughout our curriculum and also includes social and emotional learning, diversity, equity, and inclusion workshops, service learning, mindfulness sessions, bullying prevention, kindness weeks, faith families, and Maisons, among others.
The application process consisted of demonstrating competency in 11 Principles. These were originally authored by Thomas Lickona, Eric Shaps and Catherine Lewis after a study comparing a multitude of successful schools (Character.org, 2019). In order to achieve the designation of Honorable Mention, we had to submit a portfolio with evidence of how we incorporate them into our daily life at Sion. Examples included lesson plans, mission and charter documents, student work, curriculum design, interviews, and community survey items. After submitting the accreditation documents, we received a site visit by a Character.org representative. Part of the requirement is to have a student give the accrediting specialist a tour of the school. Special thanks to Kori F. (8th grade) who was commended for the great tour and insight into the program. Likewise, many special thanks to Mrs. Esquivel, who has been an instrumental partner in the implementation and accreditation phases of the program, to the faculty and staff for their dedication to student success, and to families for their continued support.
The Honorable Mention is a first step in becoming a recognized State School of Character. The next steps will include forming a Caring @ Sion committee comprised of students, faculty, staff, and parents to ensure that there is an accountable learning community that shares moral leadership that sustains the character work. Sion is committed to providing a whole-child approach that encompasses a true 21st-century education. After all, the purpose of being a knowledge seeker and acquiring 21st-century knowledge and skills is to show empathy, compassion, and respect as we commit to take action and positively impact the lives of those around us and make a difference in the world.
Fadel, C. (2015). Four-Dimensional education: The competencies learners need to succeed. The Center for Curriculum Redesign: Boston, MA.
Character.org. (2019). The 11 Principles. Retrieved from https://www.character.org/character/#11_Principles
Dr. Paola V. Clark
International Educational Leader