Ethics education at TECCS is designed to produce thoughtful citizens and caring community members. Ethics is taught as a weekly subject in its own right, and ethical considerations and debates are infused throughout the curriculum. Teachers are sensitive to everyday occasions to engage students in the contemplation of ethical issues.
Ethics, the study of "how we treat one another," is taught throughout the school day. Whenever a dilemma arises in the classroom the teacher will take the opportunity to discuss with the class how to solve the problem. The teacher helps students explore different ideas for what to do and the reasons why. Daily class meetings give the class an opportunity to bring up concerns they may have and to exercise ethical reasoning.
We also build cooperation, trust, and community in the early grades through the use of games and stories. Using stories, role-plays, and examples from their own lives, students will discuss possible solutions and the reasons behind their thinking. An effort is made to challenge the thinking of students so that they become aware of and skilled in the use of an ethical basis for decision-making.
Ethics in action
The following programs also support students as they explore and develop their own ethical beliefs and actions.
TECCS has also created a character support program called C.A.R.E.S: Contribute to the community, act assertively, respect yourself and others, exhibit self-control, and show compassion. This program supports the core ethics component of a TECCS education. C.A.R.E.S. empowers the learner to identify social and/or academic misjudgments and provides them with resources to rectify those social and/or academic acts.
Conflict Resolution & Anti-Bullying Programs
Both the Conflict Resolution and Bully Busting programs were created and published by the New Jersey State Bar Foundation and are part of the ethics curriculum at TECCS. Both programs emphasize "I" Messages and "Win/Win" Guidelines to create Positive Outcomes rather than Negative Consequences. For more information on these programs, see NJSBF.org
The mission of the student government, in the words of the students, is to "solve problems, be role models, and make the school better." TECCS' school-wide student government consists of a President, Vice-President, Treasurer, Secretary, Chief Activities Officer, Chief Ethics Officer, and Head Representative. In addition, two delegates serve as representatives to the school-wide student government. One delegate serves kindergarten through third grade, and the other delegate serves fourth and fifth grade; they attend meetings once a month.
Service learning is embedded in many of the local trips and actions in the younger grades, from collecting food for those in need at Thanksgiving to collecting supplies to send to troops overseas or orphans in Haiti. Increasingly, students begin to see these actions in a larger context, as third graders investigate food scarcity in an abundant society and seventh graders look into our own water quality after studying water in Flint, MI, and the Sudan. Older students create individual projects in response to studies of societies under stress or in conflict, and they envision solutions of their own. Middle school students also fulfill required volunteer hours by helping younger students at drop-off in the morning, staffing a grade-level fundraiser, or by working in the community and have community leaders recognize their efforts.
Students in every grade go on at least two field trips per year. We are able to take advantage of the wealth of local resources in the region. Students travel to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters, The Metropolitan Opera, Ellis Island, the Museum of Jewish Heritage, theater productions, historical villages, Sandy Hook Beach, Philadelphia, and county zoos, among other trips.
Several additional field trips are "walking field trips" within our community, to deliver food to seniors, to participate in a march for social justice on Martin Luther King Day, or to walk to Lincoln Park for our annual field day.
Middle school students go on an overnight trip each year, to create community, to learn in and about new environments, and to take their sense of community and comportment into the world, culminating in the eighth grade trip to Washington, D.C.
Portrait of a Graduate
“Ethics is amazing. Because of TECCS, we can spread the word about what ethics really means, and I will be a better person because of how I treat others” —TECCS 7th grader
“Before I came here, I didn’t know what ethics meant. Now I know how it impacts the world and can change it. Now I am doing more community service to help others” —TECCS 8th grader
Stay tuned for longer interviews with our recent graduates on how they are taking their experiences at TECCS with them into their new schools.