Intelligence plus character,
That is the goal of a true education.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Greensboro Day School has focused on building and sustaining relationships since its founding in 1970. The school motto outlines friendship, scholarship and sportsmanship as essential qualities of a GDS education. These qualities were foundational in the establishment of our Honor Code in the middle and upper schools, as well as the Four Respects that guide our relationships in the lower school. It is not unusual for our students on or off campus to be commended for their respectfulness and honesty – sure signs of students developing character.
Today, we continue our tradition of building strong character in our students through a focus on Social Emotional Learning (SEL). Helping our students develop five basic skills is at the heart of our work: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision making.
In one review of more than 300 SEL programs, researchers found that this approach fosters “positive effects on students’ social-emotional skills; attitudes towards self, school, and others; social behaviors; conduct problems; emotional distress and academic performance.”
The goal of our focus on social and emotional learning is twofold. We believe that students who feel safe and comfortable are more likely not to bully other students and learn how to work collaboratively with those who have different backgrounds and ideas. We also believe that students who can develop respectful, positive relationships with adults and teachers are better able to be engaged and retain the learning that goes on in school every day.
It would be a misinterpretation of our SEL work to believe that it is only focused on getting along with other students. The research is powerful in pointing out that students who develop positive social relationships are significantly more likely to excel in their academic studies.
Pat Basset, a past president of the National Association of Independent Schools, spoke at GDS several years ago and stressed what our school has always believed. “The leading purpose of independent schools is to provide the world with good and smart people,” said Basset. I agree! And, I have the pleasure of seeing “good and smart” students walking hand-in-hand down the hallways of our school each and every day.
I believe that each of us wants what Martin Luther King wanted for the children of our country – “intelligence plus character.” It doesn’t just happen. It takes commitment and teachers, parents and students working together. If you want proof that GDS produces such students, I would ask that you simply walk our hallways, talk with our students and read the biographies of our graduates posted in each division. You will discover both current and past students who believe in our mission and who are “constructive contributors to the world.”