SUMMIT, NJ - The Ethics Institute at Kent Place School celebrated its 10th anniversary with a gathering of more than 100 people -- representing faculty, staff, parents, students, trustees, alumnae, and friends -- coming together in the Kent Place Upper School Great Room.
The Ethics Institute at Kent Place School was founded in May of 2007 with Dr. Karen Rezach, Kent Place Middle School Director, as its head. Rezach’s successful Middle School ethics elective was the source of inspiration for establishing this unique institute.
“Years ago, I was becoming increasingly concerned about ‘education’ in our society – what we were teaching but, more significantly, what we were NOT teaching,” said Dr. Rezach. “In our incredibly competitive society, so much emphasis was being placed on the product of education and not the process – 'what grade did you earn rather than what did you learn'? 'What do you memorize rather than what did you think'?"
Rezach continued, “And so, the idea to infuse ethics and values into the educational process at both the primary and secondary school levels was born. The idea was not to just teach ethics – the idea was to do ethics – to give kids a framework based on values that would guide their decision-making in every aspect of their lives.”
Over the past decade, the ethics curriculum has expanded. Currently, there are Middle School ethics elective courses. Ethics is also incorporated in the 5th grade 'LEAD' program, as well as Middle and Upper School Health and Wellness courses. Additionally, juniors participate in a mandatory Ethics Seminar. The Ethics Institute also has a series of signature programs mentioned below.
“Around the time I first got involved in the Ethics Institute through an elective in the 7th grade, I began to notice situations that I couldn’t so easily place into the boxes of right and wrong,” said Kent Place senior Sophie Huttner. I am so thankful that Dr. Rezach, and the Ethics institute, were there to give me the framework and vocabulary needed to go about the study of ethics.”
“Right now, I find myself constantly reminded of the importance of ethics. This especially with the rising “call-out culture” we are seeing today, where individuals are empowered to stand up for doing the right thing,” added Sarah Barry, Kent Place Class of 2016 and sophomore at Cornell University. “Now more than ever is a critical time to be educating young women on ethics so that one day they may have the confidence to say hard things like: ‘this is not what our company values,’ and ‘this is not the right way to be doing business.’ Further, they need to be able to innovate, address ethical conflict and find new ways to support profitability without compromising values. We need more leaders empowered by ethics and I am so grateful that Dr. Rezach will continue leading the Ethics Institute to do just that in the future.”
The program was rounded out with remarks by alumna Anna Fountain ’13; trustee, Ethics Advisory Board member, and past parent Nancy Reynolds; and a presentation of gifts to Dr. Rezach, led by Middle School Dean Neisha Payne.
The Ethics Institute at Kent Place School also has offered a range of summer enrichment programs including Ethical Leadership in Business, The Bioethics Project and Ethics in Action. It also supports students who compete in the National High School Ethics Bowl tournament. The Ethics Institute has expanded to offer professional development and programming to outside schools and teachers.
For more information, visit kentplace.org/ethics.