Character education at The Fessenden School is a process that empowers students to develop a mindset of perpetual growth. In doing so they will better understand how our school’s core values of honesty, compassion, and respect promote healthy relationships with themselves, others, and their communities.
Character is as vital to our culture and curriculum as are science labs and soccer practice—and has been since our founding. It is woven throughout the curriculum at Fessenden. It’s in the art studio, throughout the dorms, and around the dining hall. It is on field trips, Bearventures, and vacations back home. It’s evident in our interactions with one another and in the choices we make—especially when no one is looking.
Fessenden boys benefit from guidance that occurs naturally during daily activities, and through thoughtfully integrated character-building experiences, including:
Sharing examples of positive behavior and respect at morning meeting
Learning about kindness and signing an annual “Kindness Contract”
Creating ebooks to describe and illustrate what friendship means
Developing respect, empathy, and sympathy by reading and talking with people facing unique challenges
We Believe Community Creates Character at Fessenden
Character education at Fessenden is a process that empowers students to develop a mindset of perpetual growth, not only in the classroom, but in forming healthy relationships with themselves, others, and their communities. It isn’t uncommon to see boys thanking their teachers when they leave the classroom, making eye contact and greeting faculty and staff in the halls, and interacting with each other respectfully—even when they don’t see eye to eye.
Beginning in the Lower School, boys are surrounded and engaged in lessons and activities that foster kindness, generosity, and inclusiveness. Throughout their days, learning to manage big feelings is a key part of how Fessenden boys grow. Caring, compassionate, and thoughtful, our boys stand up for each other, assist with clean up, and hold the door.
Our boys are helpers.
As Fessenden boys grow and mature, their character shines in the way they take on leadership positions, serve others in the community, and engage with the younger boys as Big Brothers. With repetition throughout the years, we nurture kindness, inclusivity, and respect.
We create character.
Based on our Community Principles, character education here at Fessenden guides the boys to:
Treat others with honesty and respect
Practice compassion; make an effort to understand and care for others
Honor diversity; promote a healthy respect for individual differences and affirm commonalities
Celebrate individual potential; nurture the many ways boys learn
Reject prejudice, bullying, and elitism; renounce behavior that excludes others
Engage in open, trusting dialogue; seek to learn from those who have differing opinions
Serve to strengthen our inclusive community
The Path to Service Learning at Fessenden
In each division at Fessenden, there are a number of service projects that allow the boys to give back to their community, helping where it is needed most. Some are also considered service learning—when a community service project ties into the curriculum—utilizing written reflections, group discussions, and follow-up activities to encourage further discovery of greater social, economical, and educational justice issues impacting the world. By connecting service with work in the classroom for a deeper level of understanding, these opportunities lay the foundation for lifelong civic engagement.
When boys leave our independent school, they are empowered as culturally competent individuals, global citizens, effective communicators, empathetic peers, and service-minded individuals.
Self-reflecting, embracing kindness, becoming good citizens, developing and demonstrating empathy—and doing the right thing, even when no one is watching. That’s character education at Fessenden.