Virtues in Practice
At Saint Joseph Grade School, part of our mission of educating hearts is to present Jesus as the model for Christian living.
The foundation of this model is built upon the understanding that each person is created in the very image of God Himself. Each person has dignity before God. We seek to stress to our students the importance of recognizing this dignity of each and every human person. This lesson will not only enhance their spirituality and bring them into closer union with Christ, but it will also teach them valuable lessons about interacting with those around them.
Our Baptismal call to holiness is nurtured by allowing God’s life of grace to continually grow in us. Holiness is lived out in the classroom, in the hallways, on the playground, and beyond. Below are two of our signature programs that assist in promoting the model of Christ to our students:
Virtues in Practice Program
“The Catholic school’s task is fundamentally a synthesis of culture and faith, and a synthesis of faith and life: the first is reached by integrating all the different aspects of human knowledge through the subjects taught, in the light of the Gospel; the second is the growth of the virtues characteristic of the Christian.” (Congregation for Catholic Education, The Catholic School 37)
Virtues in Practice is a program for our children in grades pre-k through eight to grow closer to Jesus by imitating His life and virtues. It is set up in such a way that our whole school studies the same virtue each month, to provide whole-school (and at home, whole-family) focus. The program covers 27 virtues over a three-year cycle, with 81 saints held up as models of the virtues. The three years emphasize and are named for the three theological virtues:
- The YEAR OF FAITH focuses on Catholic devotions and the idea that “faith works” (Gal 5:6), by a school-wide emphasis on service projects.
- The YEAR OF HOPE emphasizes study skills, because in order to fulfill God’s plan for our lives we need to develop the talents He has given to us.
- The YEAR OF CHARITY emphasizes community, particularly in regard to students’ interactions with one another, because “he who does not love the brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 Jn 4:20).
Virtue is not something just to know, but to do. Virtues in Practice emphasizes role-playing in the classroom so that students can practice how to act when using a particular virtue, as well as monthly projects designed to help students grow in the virtue of the month by practicing it in real situations. In addition to in-class and school-wide activities, we provide a parent guide and monthly home projects to connect our families into the lessons and allow parents to model and reference the virtues at home.
Our faith invites us to be rooted in God’s love in all that we do. God Lines integrates more explicitly the role our faith plays in growing and living as classroom communities. At the beginning of the year, each classroom discusses the importance of classroom and school rules and how they impact our daily lives as members of a Christian family. The class works together to create a set of God Lines. In junior high, they become junior high student responsibility (JHSR) guidelines.
To encourage all students, our teachers support, model, and showcase appropriate behavior by positively reinforcing good choices, cooperation, and friendship. The approach helps students understand that choices and behaviors can ultimately strengthen or weaken our relationship with God, and helps inspire each student to respect self, respect others, and respect the school environment.