Program : Character Education

Character matters [top]

The atmosphere of a school is as important as its academic curriculum. Students take in vital life lessons every day at school as they interact with peers and adults, and as they observe the way adults work together. Our school’s explicit emphasis on the importance of character means that your children can be in an environment where the framework of values and expectations mirrors those of the family. The school’s list of Character Building Qualities (CBQs) gives the community a common language and a common set of expectations. They help to clarify the complexities young people face by providing consistent answers to questions and pressures that arise in day-to-day life. Teachers use a values-based curriculum to reinforce the CBQ’s on a regular basis. Through setting expectations and modeling appropriate conduct, FRCDS faculty and staff teach appreciation for one another and for qualities that build character.

Character Building Qualities, our common vocabulary [top]

We value…

  • the training of character as highly as the training of the mind
  • development of character in all aspects of school’s life
  • right thinking and right acting as the cornerstones of a healthy and successful life
  • families as partners with the school in helping each student cultivate:
    self-respect, a proper sense of right and wrong, compassion and caring,
    responsibility as an individual and as a member of a community, and moral courage

    Our CBQs have been in place for decades and thus have permeated school life in deep and natural ways.

    CHARITY We care. We help others.
    COOPERATION We work together to support each other.
    COURTESY We use good manners.
    CREATIVITY We have our own ideas.
    GOOD JUDGMENT We think before we act.
    GRATITUDE We appreciate. We are thankful.
    HONESTY We always tell the truth.
    HUMILITY We are patient with others and ourselves. We are gentle.
    RELIABILITY We are dependable. We are punctual.
    RESOURCEFULNESS We care for our natural world. We solve problems.
    RESPECT We are kind, considerate, and thoughtful to others and self.
    SELF-CONTROL We do what is right. We chose to behave.

    Assembly, our family time [top]

    On Monday & Friday mornings faculty, staff, and students in Grades 1-8 gather for Assembly. The purpose of this gathering is to bring the community together in order to highlight community values represented by the CBQs. The teacher on duty for the week shares ideas and reflections on the CBQ of the week, and groups of students take part regularly in this community activity where goodness is honored and a sense of shared purpose is reinforced.

    Character across the curriculum [top]

    From the moment they arrive at school, Preschool students are encouraged to express the CBQs in their daily work and play. They are surrounded by the faculty’s happy expectation of goodness, which nurtures a child’s desire to be good. When a little one falls down, the others are encouraged to “Help a friend up.” If a couple of students are becoming more boisterous than necessary, rather than reprimanding them first, the teacher will remind them of ways to show the respect and kindness that children come by naturally. Teachers make a habit of pointing out expressions of goodness so that students learn to recognize and value them.

    In addition to maintaining high standards of respect and kindness, Lower School teachers incorporate character issues into the curriculum. Listen in at classroom doors, and you might hear:

  • Kindergarteners discussing the values that create a lasting friendship as they listen to Charlotte’s Web
  • Fourth graders getting to know Ben Franklin and his characteristics as a patriot and creative problem-solver
  • Fifth graders talking about Harriet Tubman and the values she stood for
  • Music students learning about Louis Armstrong’s ability to surmount one difficulty after another on his way to becoming “the American Bach”
  • Groups of students working on projects together and thereby learning about shared values such as respect, cooperation, and patience

    In their classes, Middle School students often find themselves engaged in discussion about values and character, in the context of their course work. As a middle schooler you can expect to

  • Read Romeo and Juliet or Beowulf and discuss whether revenge is ethical
  • Get to know Elizabeth I and her qualities as the first influential female monarch
  • Discuss what it means to be a traitor, in the context of both Elizabethan times and current events: Is it traitorous to wish something devastating would happen, whether the idea is acted upon or not? Are you a traitor if you cheat on your taxes?
  • Celebrate Archimedes as a creative problem solver
  • Puzzle over topics such as genetically modified organisms, water rights, and global warming in science class
  • Get involved in the issues around the environmental impact of mining for minerals, our impact on coral reefs for tourism purposes, and cloning

    Ethics Class, building strong thinkers [top]

    Students in Grade 8 take part in a class on ethics, led by a member of the Board of Trustees, who is a trained facilitator in the field of ethics. The curriculum grows out of the Institute for Global Ethics. Our students learn to think and act based upon values and reasoning. Participation in this class leads students towards meaningful leadership roles in Middle School and beyond.

    Topics include:

  • How do we make choices and how do those choices impact others?
  • What are shared core values?
  • What is our class code of ethics?
  • What are some strategies for determining right from wrong?
  • What is the need for moral courage in today’s society?

    The Middle School at Fox River Country Day School provides an oasis of calm for developing independent reasoning skills and a strong sense of self, both of which will contribute to students’ future happiness and success.

    Middle School Advisory, a support network [top]

    The Middle School Advisory Program is central to character education as it provides a caring environment where students can analyze and discuss issues they face in everyday life. During advisor time small groups of students get to know one another and their advisor through hearty discussion, service projects, conversations about character and ethics, and problem-solving activities.

  • 1600 Dundee Ave. | Elgin, IL 60120 | phone: 847-888-7910 | email: