The Good Heart Program

Last fall St. Bernard’s piloted the Good Heart, a character development program that encourages self-awareness, self-management, and social awareness.  The goal of this program is to formalize a curriculum around core values that are important to the school. 

Every student in Kindergarten through Grade IX has spent time learning about the core values of the Good Heart program:  consideration for others, honesty/integrity, perseverance, and community.  A built-in time on Thursday mornings for Good Heart lessons in the Junior and Middle schools began on November 18.  The Upper School is starting to integrate Good Heart concepts into the weekly advisory program.  This week we spoke with third and fourth graders to learn more about the Good Heart program.
Once a week the entire third grade gets together to read a book related to one of the core values and discuss it.  Hunter M., Ben B., and Griffin V. enjoyed reading The Lying King when they were thinking about honesty.  Other favorite books were Rosie Revere, Engineer, and This is Not My Hat.  The boys use the Thursday time to complete worksheets and participate in activities that help them better contemplate what it might be like to walk in someone else’s shoes.  Lucas C. especially enjoyed an activity when the entire third grade made a circle and held hands.  When they held hands, a device that two boys were holding would light up.  If someone let go, the light would go off.  Lucas liked seeing that when they worked together they could get something done.  Jack N.’s favorite activity was the marshmallow game.  The pitcher threw a marshmallow and the catcher tried to slap it into a cup…and the boys got to eat all of the marshmallows that they caught.  This game taught them about communication and how to work together.
The weekly Good Heart lessons for fourth graders usually begin with a book, story, or video.  The Invisible Boy made an impression on Alexi M., and Arjun R. enjoyed reading and discussing Be Good to Eddie Lee, which reminded him how important it is to be nice to everyone and not judge someone because of how they talk or look.  In the weeks leading up to the Australia Multicultural Fair, the boys learned about the Great Barrier Reef and thought about how their actions affect the larger community of the world.  Oliver W. especially liked a lesson about perseverance that began with a story about a wrestler with one leg who competed and did well.  Near the end of the lesson, the boys were surprised to learn that their teacher, Mr. Davis, had been a wrestler.  They were even more surprised when the Great Rodrigo (Mr. Rodriguez as a nefarious luchador) burst into the room to challenge Mr. Davis (a.k.a. “The Wasp”).  It was funny and is something that Oliver will always remember.
Since starting the Good Heart program, George M. has been more aware of how he treats others, noticing that when you are nice, you make other people happier.  He believes that spreading happiness can happen pretty quickly.  Many fourth graders have noticed a big change on the recess deck since they started the Good Heart program.  The boys used to exclude kids from a football game, but now everyone plays together.  They have realized that recess is more fun and St. B’s is a better place when they try to be nice to each other.
When asked whether the Good Heart program should continue, there was enthusiastic support.  Jack Z. believes that the Good Heart program will help create a bright, clear future for St. B’s Junior School and help St. B’s students to be kind.  Denver B. can see that the Good Heart program teaches others to be good people.  He thinks that everyone needs those skills in life to make friends and not be lonely.  Eddie S. thinks that the program should definitely continue.  As more kids learn from the Good Heart program, there will be even more kind people in the world, and that’s great.  Lucas C. has noticed that practicing things he learns during the Good Heart lessons is a good way to get in a better mood.  He has learned to have more respect for others and for himself.  Lucas T. believes the Good Heart program helps you become a better person.  He says, “It is good for your personality and good for who you are.”  Maverick H. said that the lessons have taught him how important it is to show your heart to other people so that they know what kind of person you are.  He believes that everyone needs to learn how to be a good person.
If you’re still wondering exactly what a good heart is, here are some definitions from our third and fourth grade experts.
A person with a good heart…
…is nice to others, holds the door for others, and respects others. - Hunter M.
…is kind, caring, and good at communicating. - Jack N.
…never lies, listens in class, helps others, and does what you’re supposed to do. - Ben B.
…is kind, helpful, is an upstander, and a good friend. - George M.
…encourages others to persevere by saying, “You can do it! It’s not impossible.” - Lucas T.
…is kind no matter what. If I’m in trouble, he will help me and will stick by my side. - Denver B.
…always includes people, doesn’t say mean things, and doesn’t lie to friends. - Pierce P.
…is a good friend, is kind, and has a big heart for others. - Eddie S.
…is kind and doesn’t fight back. If someone hits him, he doesn’t hit back; he uses words instead. - Griffin V. kind and helpful. - Arjun R.
…encourages other people. - Lucas C.
…is nice, willing to adapt to different environments, and someone who acknowledges people. - Alexi M.
…is forgiving and never gives up. - Maverick H.
…is kind and respectful. - Kai Y.
…is honest, kind, funny, and never bitter. A person with a good heart is happy and always tries to make things better. - Jack Z.
…includes anybody and accepts people for who they are. - Oliver W.