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Social Capital
Character Education
Last spring, Proctor alum Shawn Hurwitz ('83) addressed the 100 members of the Class of 2012 and their parents at Proctor's 164th commencement ceremony. Hurwitz, among other endeavors, has become intimately involved with KIPP schools over the past decade serving as a founding board member and Chairman of the Board of KIPP Houston's schools (the national model) from 1998-2006. KIPP's (Knowledge is Power Program) missions is a national network of free, open-enrollment, college-reparatory public schools dedicated to preparing students in underserved communities for success in college and in life.

During Hurwitz's commencement address, he shared how his experiences prior to arriving at Proctor with a reading disability, and his subsequent success in Proctor's Learning Skills program, compelled him to become involved with KIPP. Like so many KIPP graduates, his success was fueled by his relationships with his teachers, particularly his learning specialist.

Former NY Times Editor Paul Tough recently published a book titled, How Children Succeed. Throughout the book, Tough uses a study he conducted with KIPP Public Charter School in New York and Riverdale Country School to develop his case that character traits such as grit, curiosity, conscientiousness, and optimism serve as more important factors in success than IQ.

To read more about Tough's book, read this interview published this past Thursday by the University of California - Berkley. One salient quote from the interview relates directly to our role as teachers here at Proctor, "Teachers can have an effect on their students in a broader way than I think they often believe they can. Their job doesn't have to be just getting cognitive skills and information into these kids' heads. The help they can give their students that will have as much of an effect, if not more, on how well they do is with the developing their character, their non-cognitive skills."

Perhaps Proctor's greatest strength lies in the relationships that exist between students and faculty. Proctor's teachers teach not just to impart knowledge to students, but to play a role in shaping them as human beings at every level. Our students learn an incredible amount of content during their time at Proctor, and advisors, coaches, and dorm parents all play an important role alongside teachers in this process; first building relationships with students and then using those relationships as a conduit through which both academic and character lessons can be taught. The following video shows just this:

The process of teaching character is not easy. There is no formula. No silver bullet. Each student is an individual, and possessing personalized traits, must receive an education that is equally customized. When teachers know students, know individual learning styles and tendencies, students begin to become vulnerable in the classroom, an essential step in the process of lasting learning. Having trusting, honest relationships with adults is how we believe students will not only find the most success academically, but will develop into adults who exemplify our core values of respect, responsibility, compassion, and honesty.
Shawn Hurwitz ('83) offered last year's commencement address, discussing his time at Proctor in relation to his work with KIPP programs in Houston.
Paul Tough recently published a book, How Children Succeed, discussing the impact of character education on long-term success in students. (Image courtesy of
Relationships, Tough argues, are essential to not only defining success, but establishing character traits that lead to long-term successes and confidence.
Trust, as we have discussed on this blog numerous times, is central to any student/teacher relationship.
We believe trusting relationships between students and faculty open the path for essential content to flow during classes and other teachable moments.
We are all searching for the most effective way to teach character education. There are many different approaches to teaching character, however, we believe it is best taught through honest, open, consistent relationships with our students.