Woodward Academy draws upon more than a century of educational wisdom to deliver more complete preparation for college and for life. With two campuses in metro Atlanta — Main Campus in College Park (pre-K through 12) and North Campus in Johns Creek (pre-K through sixth grade) — the Academy offers a full range of college preparatory instructional tracks. The Woodward community includes a rich array of creeds, capacities, and characters, with families from 23 metro Atlanta counties creating a community rich in diversity of faiths and ethnicities. A typical graduating class attends more than 100 colleges and universities, devotes 5,000 hours to community service, and earns upwards of $14 million in scholarship awards. Following is an excerpt from an article written by Woodward President Dr. F. Stuart Gulley, capturing the Academy’s approach to character education: Character education has been much discussed in education circles, inspired by a 2011 New York Times article by Paul Tough, headlined “What if the Secret to Success is Failure?” The piece examines scholarly research into character strengths and the efforts of leaders of two very different schools — a prestigious New York City independent school and the KIPP charter schools — to adapt the research into programs to benefit their students. The research by psychology professors Martin Seligman, of the University of Pennsylvania, and Christopher Peterson, of the University of Michigan, was published in an 800-page book that identifies 24 character strengths — traits like bravery, fairness, humor, and gratitude — that help people lead lives of meaning and purpose. The article goes on to discuss persistence in the face of failure as an important factor in the development of character and the creation of success later in life. For parents, the impulse is great to protect and shield our children from disappointment. Yet, when we do we are robbing them of learning that failure does not spell the end of the world but is an essential, even necessary, ingredient in the building of character. I would not lift myself up as a model parent (nor would my sons!), but I have probably been proudest of my sons when I have observed the resiliency and determination they have developed in the face of failure. Without question, those experiences (on the playing field and in the classroom) have made them better people while making me a better parent. At Woodward, character is one of the three central tenets of our motto, Excellence, Character, Opportunity. This motto compels us to achieve balance in developing the whole child, a principle that has guided us since the Academy was founded in 1900. We begin in the earliest years at the Primary School and Woodward North, using character words to teach virtues like compassion and discipline. Later, students sign an honor code outlining the Academy’s expectations for academic integrity and social responsibility. Lessons about character are interwoven into almost everything a Woodward student experiences — in the classroom and the art studios, on the athletic fields and the stage, in their involvement in community service, and in their commute here (often dozens of miles long) by car, MARTA, or bus. Examining the landscape of college-preparatory options in our city, even the nation, I don’t know of many schools that can claim our historic and current commitment to character education that challenges and inspires each student, preparing them for success in college and beyond.
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