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Cultivating Character

April 24, 2017
By Kim Mislock, LW Parent and Board of Trustees Member

“Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright.” — Proverbs 20:11 (ESV)

One’s character is the essence of who we are. The dictionary defines character as: “the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual: one’s personality, nature, temperament, qualities, traits, essence, identity.”

What does it look like to shepherd hearts and minds unto the Lord at Lorien Wood? How do we seek to train up our children in the way they should go? With a biblical worldview as our foundation, we want our students to understand that they are known and loved by the God who made them. They are “God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do things he has prepared for them to do” (Ephesians 3:20). We seek to cultivate a redemptive lens for our students: to see one another, and to see themselves the way God does — with loving kindness, while recognizing that we are all in need of the redemptive work of our Savior. We believe that they, like we, are on a life-long journey of character formation, to become more and more like Christ in thought and in deed.

How does Lorien Wood’s integral model nurture the soil of the heart where the seeds of character formation are sown? Every morning during opening our students quiet their bodies and engage in worship, in prayer, read scripture, and practice reflection. This is a daily and intentional tilling of the soil and sowing of seeds. The children make connections and applications as they are invited to consider how they, too, can embody the biblical virtues they have just reflected upon. As shepherds of our children, we are called to faithfully till the soil, and to water the plants, while recognizing that it is the work of the Spirit to “make things grow” (1 Corinthians 3:7).

We know that character is often reflected in the choices we make and the things that we do. However, we know that too often we fail to do what we ought to have done, and do what we ought not to have done. Our children know this, too. They know they should have responded to the bell the first time, yet finishing their football tale from recess seemed so compelling in the moment.

For our younger students, WOW clips serve as a tangible affirmation of right choices and a visible reflection of redemption. Our Form One students are reminded each day of “their jobs” as little OWLS: learning to be Obedient, Wise, and Loving. Our Form One and Form Two learners become increasingly aware of the power of their choices and are held accountable for them—for good or for naught, especially if they must change their color. They experience the redemption of a “green start” each morning, and a clean slate each week.

As a community of parents and teachers, we seek to model the fruits of the Spirit to our students, and encourage our children to do the same. We express our joy, as lunch and recess parents, when we see a student’s loving concern for their friend who took a tumble from the monkey bars. We praise them for their kind words and gently call them back to God’s standard when they use words that were less than kind. We delight in watching students play with the younger siblings of their schoolmates with intention and care.

As our students continue to grow and mature at Lorien Wood, our Journey students embark upon their “Do Hard Things” project, an integral part of their 7th and 8th grade year. We challenge them to persevere in this two-year effort, which fosters a growth mindset, and requires much resilience, initiative, and tenacity (or G.R.I.T). Form Four students are encouraged to participate in conferences alongside their teachers and parents to reflect upon their heart attitudes and the habits they are establishing. We celebrate with them as they model servant leadership to the younger students in planning and hosting Field Day. We affirm our older students as they delight in reading to younger students during Buddy Book time. These are all examples of the myriad of ways we shepherd hearts and minds toward Christ in character formation at Lorien Wood.

Cultivating character at Lorien Wood is a joyful journey, which requires patience, prayer and persistence. How we delight in seeing its good fruit!