Our character education program begins in kindergarten, where boys learn simple rules of good behaviour and are encouraged to develop good habits. We believe that good habits formed at a young age make all the difference. They provide the foundation for academic and personal success. Our students grow in character through what they are taught, what they see teachers do and through what teachers and advisors guide them to practice.
As a boy grows, he is challenged to develop his personality by practising the important virtues both here at school, at home, and in his service to others. Character development is a hallmark of a Northmount education.
WHAT IS CHARACTER EDUCATION AT NORTHMOUNT?
Character education at Northmount School implements the central tenets of Northmount’s philosophy: a shared mission between parents and educators, for academic excellence that is rooted in strength of character, and a commitment to unchanging truths and the spirit of service.
SHARED MISSION BETWEEN PARENTS EDUCATORS
A fundamental principle of Northmount School’s philosophy is that the parents are the first and most important educators of their children. With this in mind, we form a partnership with a boy’s parents because we know the education we provide will be most fruitful when it is in harmony with the personal and social education he is receiving within his family.
ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE THAT IS ROOTED IN STRENGTH OF CHARACTER
Our mission is not merely to develop a student in his academic arena; rather, we regard a true education to include helping a young man attain a strong moral character in his daily actions. Teachers and parents work together, with the student, to help him develop the right habits. These habits, including prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance, will help him succeed not only in academics, but in all areas of his life.
ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE THAT IS GUIDED BY A COMMITMENT TO UNCHANGING TRUTHS
To be effective and meaningful, character education needs to be grounded in a clear conception of what is good and true. A Northmount education uses as its foundation the timeless, unchanging truths about the nature of man, happiness, and the meaning and purpose of life as passed down through classical Greek philosophy and the Catholic Church. Educator Kevin Ryan defines strength of character as “knowing the good, loving the good, and doing the good.” At Northmount, teachers guide students to know what is true and good, and to lovingly choose noble actions in life.
ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE THAT IS ACCOMPANIED BY A GENEROUS SPIRIT OF SERVICE
“True education is directed to the formation of the human person in view of his final end and the good of society to which he belongs, and in the duties of which as an adult he will have a share” (Vatican II).
A primary goal of Northmount School is to educate a young man who, through dedication to the good of others, attains exceptional character. He becomes a competent, responsible, considerate, and generous young man who strives to live according to a well-formed conscience. He chooses to dedicate himself to his family, friends, school, faith, and community. He will also possess self-discipline so that his heart is not motivated by the material, but rather to the love of God and his neighbour.
WHY CHARACTER EDUCATION
Good character is not formed automatically; it is developed over time through a sustained process of teaching, example, learning, and practice. It is developed through character education. As Dr. Thomas Lickona, author of Educating for Character, states, “Moral education is not a new idea. It is, in fact, as old as education itself. Down through history, in countries all over the world, education has had two great goals: to help young people become smart and to help them become good.” Being smart and being good must complement each other, and to that effect, we educate “for character as well as intellect, decency as well as literacy, virtue as well as knowledge” (Lickona, 6).
The intentional teaching of good character is particularly important in today’s society since our youth face many opportunities and dangers unknown to earlier generations. They are bombarded with many more negative influences through the media and other external sources prevalent in today’s culture. At Northmount School, we must be intentional, proactive, and comprehensive in our work to encourage the development of good character in young people.
HOW WE IMPLEMENT IT?
At Northmount School, we integrate the principles of character education in our academic, spiritual, community service, and advisory programs. We see each of these aspects of a boy’s education as being integral to the overall objective of supporting our boys’ development of a well-formed character.
ACADEMIC PROGRAM AND CHARACTER EDUCATION
A Northmount School student grows in character through what he is taught, what he sees his teachers do, and through what his teachers and advisor guide him to practise. Each month, the school as a whole, as well as each class, studies a particular good habit or virtue, in order to set goals for its practice. Teachers also study how they can be a fitting model for how this virtue is practiced. Finally, teachers and advisors help students set small and attainable goals, in their friendships and at home.
SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT AND CHARACTER EDUCATION
It is our conviction that spiritual development is vital to character development. At Northmount, students are helped to discover and respond to the highest calling of all men and women: love for their Creator.
We achieve this goal through religion classes and the sacramental life. Mass is celebrated twice a week by a variety of diocesan priests, and students also have the opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Confession. Through these activities, students obtain a deeper perspective of their lives, and a sense of meaning and purpose.
ADVISORY PROGRAM AND CHARACTER EDUCATION
Each student at Northmount School has a personal advisor with whom he meets regularly. Through the counsel that the advisor provides, the student is helped to develop insight into his own character. Young people are often the last to recognize their gifts and such recognition on the part of a respected adult can be valuable.
In addition to regular meetings with each student, parents also meet with their son’s advisor in order to ensure that the school’s academic, social, and spiritual activities are tailored to his specific needs. During these meetings, parents are able to discuss the areas they believe their son needs to improve in his personal, social, and spiritual development. Advisors are able to provide current resources on childhood/adolescent development and effective parenting.
COMMUNITY SERVICE AND CHARACTER EDUCATION
A formative idea at Northmount is that a boy does not reach maturity when he can look after himself, but rather when he can look after others. At Northmount School, we provide many opportunities for boys to put their spirit of service into practice. Some of these opportunities include the Christmas Basket program for families in need, playing bingo with seniors, feeding the poor at St. Francis Table, and donating candy for children in Haiti. These opportunities are available to all of our students from youngest to oldest.