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Lower Campus

Every moment at school, both in and out of the classroom, provides the chance for character education. The guiding principles of this instruction are the Big Four:

  • Respect
  • Responsibility
  • Honesty
  • Kindness

These cornerstones of character provide the foundation for supporting our children’s growth throughout their young years at Sierra Canyon. Because there is always a chance to strengthen character and reinforce The Big Four, all of our faculty are trained in Responsive Classroom, a framework that helps foster and model the best of Sierra Canyon character. Through common practice and language, the Big Four radiate their influence throughout the school day, accentuating the exuberance that comes with possessing strong character.

Three happy lower school students, jumping and laughing

Upper Campus

Affective education at Sierra Canyon is instilled in multiple programmatic elements on both campuses. With the guiding principle that learning is a social-emotional endeavor, character and wellness are quintessential priorities for fostering well-adjusted students who build capacities of empathy, altruism, and healthy attitudes to whatever challenges they face.

All students have an advisor on the Upper Campus and meet in small groups regularly. These meetings serve as an opportunity to develop interpersonal and communication skills based on the designed advisory curriculum. The School instituted Wellness Wednesday, a day on which students have the power of choice in selecting an engaging activity that piques their interest, whether a health-based initiative or a teacher passion project. No traditional classes meet on this day.

Building Character for a Joyful Existence

From their earliest years, Sierra Canyon students are immersed in an environment that emphasizes and values character development, ever committed to growing young minds and hearts. Classroom lessons, discussions, and assemblies contextualized for the youngest learners what it means to be a person of good character. The primary grades are marked by limitless imagination and joy.

During this time, we channel our children’s positivity, identifying how they act and communicate with the Big Four as our guiding principles. Students at this stage of development profoundly benefit from an unflinching sense of purpose and optimism; it is the goal of the character education program to provide opportunities for them to self-reflect and strive to become their best selves.

As our students develop in middle elementary, they continue to build upon the strong moral foundation that started within their earlier years. Students understand the concepts of the Big Four better and have more opportunities to exercise these traits throughout their day. They are challenged to become better citizens of their community and gain experience through academic and extracurricular examples of altruism and virtue. Middle elementary students also gain the perspective of seeing any obstacle or problem as an opportunity to be upstanders for their ever-growing understanding of the Big Four principles. As they become more capable, their participation in clubs and enrichment provides the greater frequency in which they may live these values.

Sixth Grade represents the first year of Middle School at Sierra Canyon, and students assume the role of leaders of the Lower Campus. As students enter this adolescent stage of development, they experience the Big Four values in more sophisticated contexts. These values also come with more mature expectations, and teachers guide students into becoming more socially responsible and positive role models for each other and for the younger students on campus. As this is the final year before moving on to the Upper Campus, the Big Four connects to Sierra Canyon’s Core Values.

  • Honesty translates seamlessly into the core value of Integrity as social and academic expectations mature;
  • Responsibility is conveyed and understood as striving for Excellence and continually developing Independence;
  • Kindness edifies the strongest pillars of our Community;
  • Respect, actively cultivated and exercised throughout the elementary grades, is realized through Perspective, contributing to the fulfillment of one of our school’s greatest strengths, its diversity.

In 7th and 8th Grade, students take Human Development with the Director of Wellness, who guides students into healthy habits of body and mind while instructing them on issues of adolescence. Each grade level also takes weeklong trips—7th Grade receives an outdoors education and 8th Grade goes to Washington, D.C. In addition to focusing on their respective science and history subjects, these trips emphasize social and independence development.

Given the level of sophistication in the Upper School, students may enroll in different offerings that include academic measures of wellness. One such elective, The Sociology of Well-Being, includes the opportunity for students to process their place in the greater world as each week, a new topic is selected to discuss and process from multiple perspectives.


Character and Wellness Team