The goal of the Detroit Country Day School character development program is to model, present, explore and reinforce core values so that students learn to make positive, wise, personal decisions. Using the model of “Our House” as a clear visual reference and foundation, students in Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 12 will develop an understanding and skill set of core values and behaviors necessary to make ethical choices as an individual and a global citizen.
The Lower School community is dedicated to fostering the core values of respect, cooperation, responsibility and good citizenship which comprise the foundation of “Our House.” Within the nurturing environments of the classroom, community and beyond, students are encouraged to become caring and responsible citizens. It is our belief that problem solving, decision-making and conflict resolution are important elements of developing a strong foundation of positive character attributes.
Core values are infused daily in lesson plans across the curriculum, complemented by weekly and monthly initiatives that include a summer reading assignment for each grade level that incorporates character development. Through literature, role playing, peer group discussions and an environment of community building, students are encouraged to develop an understanding of how their decisions affect themselves, others and their greater communities.
Dedication to teaching children the core human values of respect, cooperation, responsibility and good citizenship continues at the Junior School through all aspects of student life. Core values laid out in the foundation of “Our House,” reinforced through literature and teachable moments that occur throughout the school day, encourage students to develop their capacity to independently make positive choices. Our focus is on helping students develop skills of cooperation and collaboration among their peers, which is then reinforced through classroom activities, PM Programs, the arts, and athletic opportunities.
At the Junior School, students are introduced to the House Program, which offers them the opportunity to show their concern and empathy for others through participation in service projects that benefit their school and community. The House Program is completely run by the students and allows older students the opportunity to mentor younger students. When students enter the Junior School in third grade, they are assigned to one of five houses named for important character values: Loyalty, Integrity, Responsibility, Empathy and Respect. They remain members of the same House throughout their Junior School experience, providing continuity from year to year and allowing students to know other students within the school in all grades. With ongoing encouragement from both faculty and parents, the House Program continues to expand as a platform for service, character development and school spirit.
The development of students’ character begins in the Lower School and continues throughout life, so the Middle School is especially focused on guiding and counseling students through the process and helping them grow. Because participation in the school community requires shared goals and accountability to one another, students, parents, faculty and administration are all encouraged to sign the school Honor Covenant, promising to one another to be respectful, cooperative, responsible and to be good citizens of our school and community.
Through two important programs, Real Life and Advisory, students are exposed to numerous activities focused on positive social and emotional growth. The Real Life program allows students the opportunity to consider the rights of others, respect oneself and others, make good decisions and understand the long-range consequences of their own actions. All of the disciplines at the Middle School use “teachable moments” to create awareness of one’s responsibility to the community, the nation, and the world.
Within the Advisory Program, groups are formed by grade levels to encourage friendship and a sense of belonging to a special group. Students participate in prescribed activities, discussions and group service projects that help them explore essential ethical questions and create enduring understanding, while strengthening their character. Advisory activities encourage self-discovery, good decision-making, concern for others and a sense of community. All initiatives work concurrently to establish a foundation of caring, respect, fairness, citizenship, responsibility and trustworthiness in our students.
At the Upper School, character development continues to focus on the core values of “Our House” – respect, cooperation, responsibility and good citizenship, with particular attention to how the independent student internalizes them and uses them to make daily and long-term decisions.
Opportunities to practice independent decision making are provided through the curriculum, athletics, arts, and activities. The Upper School Honor Code promotes and reinforces academic integrity and the Student Handbook and Athletic Handbook outline and encourage the highest standards of good behavior that is expected of mature students.
The importance and practice of core values as an individual and global citizen are reinforced throughout the Upper School experience.