If there’s one thing that sets Brilla apart from any other school in the area, it’s the focus on character development. Brilla doesn’t just talk about building character in students; character formation is a part of the very culture of Brilla schools. It is purposefully and meticulously built into the curriculum and incorporated into each day in the classroom. Many schools shy away from personal development and focus only on scholastic achievement. Brilla intentionally teaches the whole child, including personal and relationship development.
An education at Brilla means that students will be taught both explicitly through lessons, and implicitly through examples, about how to live a life of virtue. These lessons are integrated into everything we do. Learn about some of the intentional ways Brilla brings character into the classroom
1. Teacher and Staff Education: To teach others about character, we must grow in character ourselves! Every single teacher and staff member at Brilla Schools participates in character formation, which focuses on their own personal growth, and equips them to share their knowledge with students. There is regular character education available for all staff to continue developing and evolving in their pursuit of virtue.
2. Family Education: One of the biggest pieces of feedback we heard from parents has been “We want character education too!” They hear their children talk about what they learned about virtues in school or see them catch themselves when talking to their siblings: “I need to remember that she has dignity.” Parents are each student’s first teachers, and we want them to be able to talk to their kids about a virtuous life too! Brilla incorporates virtue discussions into our monthly Coffee and Conversations with staff, in our newsletters, and in Parent University. It might not be a conversation you’ve had with your school before, but it’s an important one for your child’s future!
3. Student Education: How do you teach a Kindergartener about character? Even in Kindergarten classrooms, our teachers are modeling virtuous behaviors and naming examples of virtues as they come up. “That was a great example of honesty, Carlos. Thank you for telling the truth.”
Each week, every student from K-8 is instructed on a virtue. Our core virtues are courage, justice, wisdom, and self-control, with 17 additional sub-virtues like responsibility, gratitude, respect, and perseverance. This explicit instruction teaches each student the main ideas behind each virtue. At the end of the week, the entire school comes together and celebrates classmates who have exemplified that week’s virtue at our weekly Roosting Rallies.
But character and personal growth are taught in implicit ways throughout the week as well, like during the Quietest Moment of the Day. Monday-Thursday, teachers incorporate the Quietest Moment of the Day for 2-5 minutes. The QMOTD includes a guided reflection that enables each child to pause and consider if they have been their best selves so far that day. They have an opportunity to think about how they can be the best version of themselves for the rest of the day or tomorrow.
4. Behavioral Support: Character initiatives shape even the way we think about discipline at Brilla. We focus on student accountability, classroom responsiveness, and behavioral support to help students flourish in every aspect of their lives. We don’t just focus on punishment for every bad behavior; we want to be restorative. Incorporating Social Emotional Learning and virtue studies gives us the tools to help children reflect on their own behavior and look for ways to improve. We see every student as a person with inherent dignity. There are no bad kids, but sometimes kids make bad decisions. It is just as easy for an adult to have a tough day and make a bad decision as well! We believe one’s character and virtue are always evolving, and we continually need to work on different aspects of our character to be the best versions of ourselves.
We’ve named some powerful examples of Character Initiatives in action at Brilla, but there are even more character-building moments that Brilla teachers incorporate into each day. We have an entire guidebook on why and how we teach these principles! It’s something that Brilla teaches with intention and care, in stark contrast to other schools that avoid topics of personal growth entirely. It’s what makes Brilla, Brilla! And it is just one of the many benefits of a Brilla education.