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Character before Career

Most Christian schools or colleges have school mottos.  A memorable one is that of The Stony Brook School, Long Island NY, founded in 1922 with Frank Gaebelein as its founding headmaster: Character before Career.

A Blog on Stony Brook School’s webpage draws attention to its school motto in a reflection on David Brooks’ book, The Road to Character, where

Brooks makes a helpful distinction between resume virtues and eulogy virtues.  The resume virtues are those qualities that help us achieve worldly success – they make us wealthier, more powerful, and more famous. The eulogy virtues, by contrast, are the qualities that people who know us well talk about at our funerals.

Character development ought to be on the agenda of every Christian school.

Commenting on this in her 2019 Awards Night address at Citipointe Christian College, the College’s Head of Primary (Mrs Ruth Gravestein) noted,

We are who we are and we do what we do because we are created and loved by God the Father.

She directed these remarks to the students,

Students we are so proud of you –

  • for choosing to develop your character with the right choices you made this year
  • for being obedient in the small things like keeping your desk, classroom, school and of course your bedroom, clean
  • for growing in discipline by wearing your uniform correctly
  • for not giving up when you really wanted to
  • for doing your best to put the needs of others before your own as Jesus shows us how to do.

Then addressing her remarks to their parents she added,

There is strength in our parent body, who are raising their children with unconditional love, intelligent guidance and necessary discipline. Thank you, parents for your wise decision to provide your child with the unique and vital Christian education you can only get from a truly Christian school.

We partner wholeheartedly with you in this educational journey. We rejoice with you at the successes our students achieve. We sorrow and support you when life and learning gets challenging. We pray for you often because parenting is and becoming even more so a thorny path to navigate alone.

Recognising the valuable role of the teachers she noted,

There is strength in our valuable Christian staff. Words are insufficient to describe their dedication to this ministry, their love for our students, their passion for the craft of teaching and their deep desire to see every child recognized and developed as a unique and precious individual created with purpose by God the Father.

This represent the value-adding of every Christian school that focuses on character development before other things (including, ultimately, career).