Keeping the *Character* in Education

Character in our Curriculum

To achieve a critical component of its mission, developing “citizens of impeccable character”, Classical Charter Schools embedded its Character Education program into its curriculum from day one. Once per week, all scholars engage in a Character Education lesson with their Dean of Students. Each unit is centered around one of Classical’s six Character Pillars which include Trustworthiness, Respect, Fairness, Responsibility, Caring, and Citizenship.

Some of the significant topics covered include the ‘golden rule’, the importance of following directions, being truthful, and demonstrating fairness by speaking up for what is right. There is heavy emphasis placed on community and how to demonstrate citizenship. Ultimately, our goal is to shape scholars’ character alongside their academic development.

Engagement and Discourse

Classical’s Character Education program, like all its curriculum, was developed in-house. To build engaging and effective instruction, years of thought, trial and error, and revision was put into unit, lessons, and assessment structures as well as recommended teaching techniques. Skits, video analysis, role-play scenarios, whole class discourse, and presentations are all used to engage scholars in topics relevant to their lives and experiences. The curriculum is designed to peak scholar interest and promote active involvement in learning. Best yet, elements of this curriculum are often modified to meet the needs of specific scholars, classes, and grades.

Often, these classes use community circles to promote and facilitate conversation. Scholars use a talking piece to ensure one voice is given the ‘mic’ and to teach and encourage turn-taking and respectful listening. Through these conversations, there are often bigger messages the Deans guide scholars to realize. Messages include how we can learn from mistakes, self-reflect on our behavior, actions, and words and their impact on others, and how positively we can feel when demonstrating positive behaviors.

Benefits of Character Curriculum

Instilling Character Education in our curriculum from Kindergarten through 8th grade has proved impactful. This course serves as a preventative measure to reduce behavioral infractions and disruption to learning time. If we opt to only discuss character aspect within restorative conversations after misbehavior or a consequence, we are limiting the potential of our scholars – and we’re not reaching them at the right time. Character must be part of our every day.

We are teaching scholars, from a young age, important skills to develop their socioemotional intelligence and their ability to learn alongside others. Through this course, we are helping children learn to make good choices and to care about the people sharing in their community. Valuing the importance of community helps to develop individual character as well as a warm and positive classroom culture.
Classical’s foundation on character development is the true roots from which everything else branches out. Without establishing the Character Pillars through this curriculum and placing high value on demonstrating them each day, it would be difficult to focus as rigorously on academics. Children must first learn how to manage their emotions and demonstrate strong character. For this reason, a focus on character in curriculum is of critical importance in schools.



This post was contributed by Mr. Montalto, Dean of Students, and Ms. Emanuele, Special Projects Manager. As a non-CMO charter network, we rely on the thoughts, opinions, and innovations of our staff to move our mission forward and provide an excellent academic option to families in the South Bronx. To hear more from our staff, check out the next post! Or, click here to learn more.


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