Pre-K–Grade 4
The Experience

Character Education

At Fessenden, the core of our mission is character education: a conscientious focus on honesty, compassion, and respect in an inclusive community.

Character education is as vital to our culture and curriculum as field trips and foreign language--and it has been since our founding. It is woven into music lessons, mealtimes, and physical education. It can be found in our interactions with one another and the choices we make when no one is looking.
Character education is intentional and all-encompassing to a Fessenden boy’s experience. It is based on the following Community Principles:

    • 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
For younger boys, we start simply, focusing on “what it means to be a good friend,” and, “why we celebrate our differences.” We focus on one concept a month (such as “friendship” or “generosity”), which offers many opportunities for discussions and activities. Through repetition, we nurture kindness, inclusivity, and respect.

Over time, the values we instill benefit boys as they take on leadership opportunities, serve others, and become strong role models in the upper grades. Our hope is that when a boy leaves Fessenden to go onto secondary school he leaves as:
A Culturally Competent Individual
A Fessenden boy will acquire the ability to understand, communicate, and interact with people from various cultural backgrounds. He will become aware and proud of his cultural perspective, as well as develop a respectful attitude toward differing perspectives and life experiences.

A Global Citizen
At every turn, a Fessenden boy will consider the world around him, and his rights and civic responsibilities within it. He will become a good steward of the planet. He will recognize his connection to and will advocate for others—and their wellbeing—around the world.

An Effective Communicator
A Fessenden boy will communicate effectively and respectfully with others, both verbally and in writing. He will use technology, social media, and the internet safely, ethically, and responsibly. He will become aware that his words, whether formal or informal, have the power to uplift or demean others.

An Empathetic Peer
A Fessenden boy will flourish in a safe and supportive learning environment, and he will learn to understand and respect the feelings of others. He will be unwilling to engage in behavior which threatens the safety or well-being of another person or group. He will be empowered to speak up and speak out when those around him are verbally or physically mistreated.

A Balanced Individual (Wellness)
A Fessenden boy will come to make sound decisions for himself regarding his mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing. He will learn about healthy choices for caring for his mind, spirit, and body including diet and exercise. He will acquire techniques to cultivate mindfulness and resilience, and maintain a lifelong practice of self-care.

A Servant to Others (Service Learning)
A Fessenden boy will appreciate the experiences and opportunities afforded to him and seeks ways to serve and give to others. Within the Fessenden community and beyond—locally, nationally, and internationally—he will act, participate, and give service or resources to enhance the lives of other human beings and living things, as well as the environment.

Character Education in Action

At Fessenden, boys benefit from character-building guidance during opportunities that arise naturally during the day. We also aim to present boys with intentional and 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 e-books to describe and illustrate what friendship means
  • Developing respect, empathy, and sympathy by reading and talking about people facing unique challenges
© 2015 The Fessenden School. All Rights Reserved.
The Fessenden School
250 Waltham Street
West Newton, MA 02465
(617) 964-5350

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