Aristotle once said, “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”
 
At The Peck School, education of the heart is a top priority and takes place every day, at every grade level, and across all disciplines. All the better when the school can align its character development efforts with compatible national movements, such as Character Day – which was celebrated across the globe on September 13th.
Third-grade students at Peck joined the ranks of students from 150 countries to collectively organize over 133,000 events devoted to discussing character development and living life with meaning and purpose. Essentially, character day is an opportunity to reflect on the question, “What kind of a person am I, and who do I want to be?”  
 
 
Together, the two Peck third-grade homerooms watched, Science of Character, the powerful eight-minute movie produced by Let It Ripple Film Studio that launched the Character Day initiative. The movie highlights scientific research into the cognitive and emotional benefits of character development and explains that by focusing positively on cultivating strengths that scientists pinpoint as key to success, individuals can hone those attributes to lead a richer, happier, more service-driven life.
 
The students then used the Periodic Table of Character Strengths to pinpoint three traits that they believed they embodied. They then used post-it notes to label a large chart on whiteboards in the classroom, allowing the entire class to see all their individual talents.

After discussion, the third graders engaged in a writing activity with school psychologist Dr. Zan Struebing. Students were asked to focus on how they could use their strengths to help make the world a better place. Their writing and illustrations are currently being displayed on the hallway bulletin boards in the Peck Lower School. Finally, each student was asked to identify a strength in each one of their fellow classmates, leading the whole class to understand that by seeing the good in each other, they help to build a stronger, more positive classroom community.
 
The Character Day activities were a great launch pad for third grade discussions around InDeCoRe (Peck’s character development program called Individual Development Community Responsibility) Teachers will build upon the discussions and activities throughout the coming school year.
 
The Peck School’s InDeCoRe Program has won awards and recognition from national organizations, including the Center for Spiritual and Ethical Education and Character.org. The school is also listed as a National School of Character. National Schools of Character are schools, early childhood through high school, that have demonstrated through a rigorous evaluation process that character development has had a positive impact on academics, student behavior, and school climate. These schools become part of a network of Schools of Character that serve as models and mentors to other educators and hold their designation for 5 years.

(Thanks to Third-Grade Teachers Sasha Schreiner and Katie Bruno for furnishing content and photos for this article.)
 
watch your thoughts: they become words
watch your words: they become actions
watch your actions: they become habits
watch your habits: they become your character
watch your character: it becomes your destiny
 
- Frank Outlaw