At Trinitas, we seek to educate not only the mind but also the heart. We work to cultivate Christian character through an intentional curriculum and culture designed to develop habits of virtue. While virtues like self-discipline, compassion, friendship, and responsibility can make us well-liked and successful, this is not the primary motivation for virtue education at Trinitas. The foundation for our program is the belief that we are children of God, called to love Him and others. We demonstrate and cultivate that love in exercising virtue. It is with these habits of mind and heart that we flourish as human beings.
We’ve chosen a program of character education which employs examples from Scripture, history, and literature because we think it essential to capture the imagination when training the mind and heart to love God and others. Alternative views of the good life abound, and they can be very attractive. Secular culture bombards us with images and ideals that fill our imaginations, engage our minds, and draw our hearts. The Christian vision of virtue should outshine them all. As Antoine de Saint-Exupery observed, “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” While education needs rules and assignments (and ship building needs people to collect wood and perform assigned tasks), it needs more: motivation of the heart is central. Our character education is designed to inspire the hearts of our students.
The examples chosen from Scripture and history and literature are intended to prompt a desire for imitation. Imitation may have received a bad rap in a culture that prizes individuality, but we are constantly imitating others (our family members, friends, teachers, coaches, mentors, role-models, and heroes). If our models are good, it should be no insult for someone to say we resemble them. Just imagine: “You swim like Michael Phelps” or “You sing like Pavarotti” or “You remind me of St. Francis.” We would be pleased if each student’s response to stories of persons of virtue is, “I want to be like that!” And, imitation is at the heart of the Christian life, for it should be the desire and effort of every Christian to become more like our Lord. It is our hope that character education at Trinitas helps each of us in this quest.
Such education is woven through our community in a variety of ways. We focus on one virtue each month, and this is the subject of several of our chapels which include Biblical examples, guest speakers, and discussions. Students and teachers have opportunities throughout the week, in and out of the classroom, to focus on these virtues as well. We partner with Altus Adventures to create outdoor experiences to set the tone for each school year with our 7th and 8th grade fall backpacking trip and our 3rd and 4th grade “Friendship Days”. We also seek to foster a strong school/home connection with newsletter updates, student journals, “try this” activities, shared readings for families, a parent/staff book club, and other resources. As with all other curriculum choices at Trinitas, one of our guiding principles can be found in Philippians 4:8, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”