The Chapin C: Character Education at Chapin School Princeton

Chapin School Princeton’s Character Education Program

A school exists to teach reading, writing, math, science, history -- just the big subjects, right? What kids need for high school and college.  Right? Yes, of course, we do all of that. Every elementary school does. Every middle school does. We are a private school with both, so we have an even greater opportunity. It is our mission and our passion to teach all of these in rigorous and innovative ways.

Yet, at Chapin, our aim has always been much higher. Our students learn how to be good students and, as importantly, they learn how to be good people.

Through Chapin’s Character Education Program, five virtues are espoused:

Respect |  Responsibility  | Honesty | Kindness  | Perseverance

Central to every student’s daily life, the virtues are woven into the curriculum, in the language we use, and in the very essence of the school. Sometimes, they are discussed in relation to the themes of a book being read. Sometimes they are the topic of weekly Morning Meetings. Sometimes they become the focus of a teachable moment on the playground.

Our students come to know that the five virtues purposefully ground and guide them through every step of their lives at home and at school.

We all dream that our children will be successful in their careers, whatever that means for their individual passions. In our hearts, we know that means so little unless they are successful as citizens, as partners, as parents, as siblings, as friends. The dream we all share is that the world is full of good people. At Chapin School Princeton, we help that dream come true, one child at a time.

Click here to learn more about our virtues.

The Five Virtues

The Five Virtues



Lower School  - Treat others as you expect to be treated.
Upper School – Expect the best treatment for yourself and treat others in the same manner through your words and actions.

Examples of Respectful Behavior:

To Self
Take pride in your appearance, actions and behavior. 
Show regard for self by refusing to do harm to yourself. 
To Others

Accept and appreciate the differences and uniqueness of people. 
Be courteous and polite.  Demonstrate good manners. 
Show regard for parents, school staff and other community leaders. 
Toward the Environment 

Make respectful decisions about how you treat the natural world. 
Show regard for animals and other living things and their habitats. 
For Property 

Value the property of others. 
Take pride in the appearance and condition of our school and community. 
For Country 

Properly attend to the Pledge of Allegiance, The National Anthem and the flag. 



Lower School – Do the right thing.
Upper School – Choose to do the right thing in your thoughts, words and actions and be accountable for your choices. 

Examples of Responsible Behavior:

To Self 

Be reliable and accountable. 
Set a good example. 
To Others 

Follow through with your commitments. 
Be responsive to the concerns and needs of others. 

To School 

Complete assignments on time to the best of your ability. 
Take care of school equipment, property, buildings and grounds. 
Cooperate in the learning process. 
Be punctual. 
Follow school rules and procedures. 

To Family 

Take on chores and complete them. 
Represent family in a positive manner. 

To Community 

Represent Chapin in a positive manner when out in the larger community. 
Contribute to the community by following its policies and rules. 



Lower School – Tell the truth.
Upper School – Be truthful in your thoughts, words and actions. 

Examples of Honest Behavior:

To Self:  

Act in such a way that you are worthy of trust. 
Display integrity in your words, actions and behavior. 
To Others: 

Do what is right. 
Don’t lie, cheat, steal, deceive, mislead or betray a trust. 
Be sincere and genuine. 



Lower School – Be nice to others.
Upper School – Show consideration and compassion toward others and their feelings by way of your thoughts, words, and actions.

Examples of Kind Behavior:

To Self: 

Accept both your strengths and weaknesses. 
Take good care of yourself. 
To Others: 

Be a reliable and trustworthy friend. 
Participate in community service. 
Be an active listener. 
Make an effort to help others. 
Share with others. 
To Family: 

Treat family members with kindness. 
Be there for your family. 



Lower School – Try and try again.
Upper School – Show in your thoughts, words and actions a commitment to a goal.  

Examples of Persevering:

To Self: 

Don't give up!  Ever!
Achieve your goals and meet your commitments. 
Seek help to enable you to solve problems and overcome obstacles. 
Accept new challenges that will lead to growth. 
Work to maintain relationships. 

Student Character Committee

When the Character Development Program was first established, Chapin had already integrated a great deal of activities that fell under Character Development, such as Community Service Projects, Family Groups, and a Leadership Class.

To make the program more inclusive and purposeful, the school created both a faculty and a student committee. The Faculty Character Development Committee develops an overarching theme for the year, with ideas of ways to infuse that theme into the life of the school.

The Student Character Committee (SCC)  implements hands-on activities, such as making banners for each of the virtues, hanging quotes related to the virtues throughout the school, and visiting Lower School classrooms. The SCC’s involvement with Lower School classes is probably the most popular and rewarding aspect of its work. During their visits to classrooms, SCC members read to students, conduct discussions about relevant topics, put on theme based puppet shows, or might engage younger students in an activity aimed at teaching them about friendship, sharing, or problem solving. It is through these activities that our older students become role models for our younger students and begin reinforcing what it means to be a good person, a person of character.

Honor Code

Chapin's Honor Code provides a focus for the school's commitment to foster the ethical and social development of its students. It seeks to promote a community that holds personal integrity and mutual respect as standards for behavior. More than just a set of rules, the Honor Code is a set of ethical standards by which a person can live both in and out of school.

Central to the concept of the Honor Code is an understanding that this system is based upon trust and responsibility. Every student has the right to be trusted in his or her personal and academic life, and this right is inevitably bound to the duty and obligation to be truthful and honorable. Students are also expected to use their influence to encourage honorable conduct among all fellow students.

The Honor Code is designed to complement Chapin's Character Development Program. As such, the Honor Code uses The Five Virtues - respect, responsibility, honesty, kindness and perseverance - as its foundation.

Respect: Students will conduct themselves and treat other members of the community and their property with dignity and high regard. Students will be responsive to the needs and concerns of others and will show care for school and personal property.

Responsibility: Students will behave, both in and out of school, in a manner that contributes positively to the academic climate and general welfare of the community. Students will be held accountable for their choices.

Honesty: Students will be truthful in their words, actions, and behavior. The Honor Code implies a trust that each student will do homework, tests, and other forms of work alone, unless directed to do otherwise; will carefully cite and document all sources; and will use the property of others only with permission of the owner. The signature of a student following the Honor Pledge ("I have neither given nor received aid on this assignment") reaffirms that the work submitted represents his or her own efforts.

Kindness: Students will show consideration and compassion toward others in their thoughts, words, and actions. If a student in grades 6 - 8 appears to have violated the spirit of the Honor Code, the matter will be heard by the Honor Council. The Head of Upper School and/or the Head of School will handle violations involving students in the fifth grade.
Perseverance:  Students will set appropriate goals and will persist in meeting all commitments and obligations.