Leadership & Character
The secret of American Heritage's success isn't solely in our academic program. The fact is, all the knowledge in the world won't guarantee our children to live happy and productive lives. Even if we succeed in teaching our children the core subjects, we fail if we don't teach them how to be good, hard-working, and honest people. The American Heritage program relies intensely on building a culture of high expectations for character and behavior. We strive to instill “old fashioned” values, ideals, and principles like please, thank you, looking people in the eye, showing respect for yourself and others—and really knowing what that means. Honesty, integrity, work ethic, fortitude and perseverance aren't just words on a spelling list -- they are ideals we strive to instill in each of our students. Building this culture begins with our talented staff, who have completed training in two renowned Character Education programs:
We may not all be Cowboys, but our Country would be even stronger if we all lived like a Cowboy. The principles memorialized in James Owen's book, Cowboy Ethics, define a major part of our Western heritage and embody what we hope to teach our kids:
- Live each day with courage;
- Take pride in your work;
- Always finish what you start;
- Do what has to be done;
- Be tough, but fair;
- When you make a promise, keep it;
- Ride for the brand;
- Talk less and say more;
- Remember that some things aren’t for sale; and
- Know where to draw the line.
Built into our American Heritage program and part of our classroom activities teach these principles, hold them up as noble and worthy of living, and help students to understand them.
In a nutshell, our Great Expectations program emphasizes the following 8 expectations:
- We will value one another as unique and special individuals.
- We will not laugh at or make fun of a person’s mistakes nor use sarcasm or putdowns.
- We will use good manners, saying “please,” “thank you,” and “excuse me” and allow others to go first.
- We will cheer each other to success.
- We will help one another whenever possible.
- We will recognize every effort and applaud it.
- We will encourage each other to do our best.
- We will practice virtuous living, using the Life Principles.
The Great Expectations® (GE) teaching/training model is guided by six basic principles (Tenets). These Tenets provide guidelines for program training and implementation and serve as standards for evaluating GE schools/districts. The Tenets are as follows:
- High Expectations - Teachers must hold high expectations of students. When students recognize those expectations, they will respond by reaching upward to achieve them. - Robert Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobson
- Teacher Attitude and Responsibility - Teachers who have positive attitudes possess the influence necessary to shape the attitudes of students. The teacher's attitude is one of a facilitator of learning who encourages and believes in students, and who requires excellence in every detail. - Haim Ginott, John and Eunice Gilmore
- All Children Can Learn - All children can learn no matter what labels are placed upon them, whether it is learning disabled, low socioeconomic status, unstable home life, inner-city, or rural. - William Glasser
- Building Self-Esteem - Building self-esteem is the key to helping students believe they are capable of learning and motivating them to try. - Harris Clemes, Reynold Bean, and Aminah Clark
- Climate of Mutual Respect - Students are empowered to take risks necessary for growth when encompassed in a climate of mutual respect in which mistakes are seen as opportunities to learn and their ideas and efforts are appreciated. The teacher must extend the same respect to students that he/she desires to receive from them. - Rensis Likert
- Teacher Knowledge and Skill - The teacher must be knowledgeable and skillful in learning theory and teaching methods that enable students to achieve academic and social success. - Benjamin Bloom