“Nothing is of more importance for the public wealth than to form and train up youth in wisdom and virtue.”
— Benjamin Franklin
When we say we nurture students with exemplary character, we take these words very seriously.
We are returning to a more traditional way of healthy and wholesome development. At Northern Academy of the Arts, education is based on positive, traditional values; inspiration from heroes found in history and classical literature; and a consummate sense of beauty.
In a world increasingly saturated with stimulation vying for our children’s minds, Northern Academy is actively cutting off many of the input points where inappropriate, degrading, and destructive influences can enter.
You Are What You Watch
We’ve all heard the saying “You are what you eat,” yet it’s becoming increasingly clear that we are also what we feed our eyes and brains. The images and information we are exposed to affect who we are and how we act.
The widely proven Mozart effect demonstrates the positive influence of classical music, and, on the other side of the coin, there is a well-researched link between violent video games and violent behavior. Everything our children are absorbing—from books, movies, and music to social media—are building who they are, for better or for worse.
At Northern Academy, our goal is to nurture healthy, upright people who know right from wrong, and want to make good and even great choices based on strong reasoning founded in respect for their own lives and others.
A Positive and Healthy Environment
We are deeply concerned about the devastating influences on our children and teens, made easily and constantly accessible through smart phones with internet access.
An increasing number of boys have pornography addictions. Online bullying, and sexual and psychological abuse among youth via social media like WeChat are increasing, as is the number of youth suicides. Many parents feel it’s out of control and have no way of protecting their kids from sliding down with the pack.
Here at Northern Academy we’re adamant that we can and must do better for this generation’s youth. Therefore, we are blazing a new trail, a way to create a healthy social environment. To do this, we have bold policies. Since we opened our doors, parents and students have embraced them and we are seeing the positive effects in our teenagers’ lives.
We ban smartphones, social media, and unrestricted access to the internet—don’t worry, students get used to it. Here are two specific policies to note:
No smartphones. Not at school, and preferably not at home.
The students who need phones are advised to use safe and simple cell phones with no internet access. It’s common sense for academic reasons to keep smartphones out of classrooms, and out of mind during the school day.
No intimacy. Dating and intimacy between students is prohibited. We are a co-ed school, but we know it is better for students to learn age appropriate relationships and respect, with firm boundaries, that allow them to avoid the distraction and troubles of dating and to focus on what is really important at their age—learning, discovering their talents, and becoming their best selves.
Research Says Character Education Works
Current research indicates that in order for schooling to be highly effective for students, a strong character education curriculum must be maintained within the school environment.
Here at the Northern Academy, we agree with the research. Our goal is to construct a solid educational environment that will assist our students’ growth toward becoming self-aware and exhibiting, through their thoughts and actions, a highly developed moral character. Our program aligns with the research yet also exhibits unique qualities that are specific to our school.
Four essential components we use in achieving a strong character education:
Integration with Academic Instruction
Instruction using classical Western and Chinese literature
Conduct grade (pass required to graduate)
Coordinated Health Promotion
Weekly assemblies sharing meaningful topics with students
Health habits and wellness campaigns
Character, Service Learning, and Citizenship Education
Internship programs and public performance opportunities
Community volunteer service opportunities
School – Community – Family Relationships
School expectations of integrity, compassion, and resilience
Modeling of good social relationships