Prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance are the four Cardinal Virtues. The Theological Virtues are faith, hope, and love. Students at St. Peter School can learn each of these more in-depth through the newly implemented Education in Virtue Series, also called the Virtue Tree Series. This is the first year the school is utilizing this faith-based program — created by the Dominican Sisters of Mary — and it applies to all students, from preschool to eighth grade. The program is intended to engage everyone associated with the school, including parents. It’s also intended to lay the groundwork for a positive school culture.
Janna Walkowiak, Assistant Principal, has enjoyed seeing the students learn these important elements of the Catholic faith.
“The curriculum defines the virtues, demonstrates how the saints exhibited the virtues in their lives, and invites students to recognize and witness the virtues in their own lives,” Ms. Walkowiak says.
The first step in implementing this curriculum has been training our school staff. The students also learn about a virtue each week, and parents are informed of the virtue in the weekly newsletter. There are prayers specific to each virtue, and the priests also try to weave the virtue into their homilies for the student Mass.
“The curriculum is implemented at the teachers’ discretion,” Ms. Walkowiak says. “It can be used in a variety of ways, so the teachers have tailored the program to match their teaching styles and curriculum needs.”
Ms. Walkowiak is especially excited about this program because it emphasizes the good in students. Many teachers have already been teaching the virtues and accompanying concepts for years, and this now gives them a common framework.
“Teachers were already having these conversations with students, but the curriculum helps create uniformity as teachers intentionally employ a common language when discussing virtues,” she says.
This isn’t meant to be a behavior program — it’s much bigger than that. The Virtue Tree series includes discussions on the Catholic faith, the saints, and the opportunity for prayer.
As part of implementing this program, Ms. Walkowiak has a request for all parishioners — to pray for the students and staff.
“The last step in implementing this program is prayer,” she says. “I please ask that all parishioners pray for the success of this series within our school.”
In the short time this program has been implemented, Ms. Walkowiak has already seen positive results.
“Students have already begun to recognize the virtues that they are blessed with and identify the virtues that their peers possess,” she says.