Kindness, honesty, consideration for others, and responsibility to one’s community have been pillars of St. Bernard’s since its founding in 1904. To formalize the teaching of these qualities the school has created a comprehensive program of character development. Designed with the help of teachers, parents, psychologists, and administrators, the Good Heart program aims for each student from Kindergarten through Grade IX to become more aware of his identity, wants and needs, strengths and vulnerabilities, and to appreciate these things in other people. Good Heart lessons take place every Thursday morning in the Junior and Middle schools, and they are integrated into weekly Upper School advisory meetings.
Lessons for each grade are designed to encourage self-awareness, self-management, and social awareness, often using examples from real life. With younger boys teachers often use games and picture books to launch discussions. “The Lying King,” “Rosie Revere, Engineer,” and “The Invisible Boy” are favorites. Older boys use current events, videos, team-building games, and case studies. Topics include athletes who have faced physical and emotional challenges, playground episodes, and climate change. They spur discussion and deepen understanding. Since the beginning of the program boys report greater awareness of their behavior toward others and a capacity to appreciate life from another person’s perspective.