GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Sept. 18, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Practicing good citizenship through Moral Focus virtues is the bedrock of teaching and learning at National Heritage Academies’ partner-schools. And one day each year, scholars tie these character-based elements together with Constitution Day, commemorated annually on Sept. 17.
The significance of Sept. 17 gives scholars from all grade levels a lens into learning about the Constitution, which was signed on Sept. 17, 1787. Younger scholars learn about rules, laws, and why those guidelines exist in society. Students in later grades learn more specific lessons, digging into the Bill of Rights, other amendments, and why they exist.
Some classrooms will be transported to the 18th Century with reenactments of the signing of the Constitution. For other scholars, Constitution Day charges them with complex thought exercises, such as comparing a society with rules to a community without laws and deciding which they’d rather live in.
Social Studies Team Lead for NHA’s Curriculum and Instruction department Amy Harper said students also learn about the morals behind the Constitution and the people who came together to sign it. NHA’s Moral Focus virtues are sprinkled throughout Constitution Day lessons.
“That virtue of wisdom is ingrained in the Constitution,” Harper said. “The founding fathers used the wisdom they gained from the Revolutionary War and their experiences from being ruled by England to set up a government whose power is balanced between different branches of government.”
Other Moral Focus virtues scholars learn about include respect, courage, and self-control. All of these traits are emphasis points for Dominique Rickett-Meriweather, Dean of Intervention and Special Education at Taylor Exemplar Academy, who said these traits are crucial to good citizenship.
“All of these Moral Focus virtues are things that we can tie in when we teach about history,” Rickett-Meriweather said.
Application of these lessons starts the journey to becoming outstanding members of the community. One of the most popular activities is creating a constitution for their own classroom.
Scholars sign their name to a “social contract,” serving as their commitment to uphold the values they desire most. This exercise is a small-scale demonstration that mirrors what the founding fathers did 236 years ago.
According to Rickett-Meriweather, third-grade scholars at Taylor wrote a social contract, which will hang in class for the remainder of the year. Lessons like this have helped Taylor outperform the local district for 13 years.
“When the kids sign their name to it, they have a sense of agency over the contract,” Harper said. “It’s something that the teacher can remind students of too. The students have already agreed to this, they had a hand in crafting it.
“There’s a lot that relates to Constitution Day and how our forefathers were agreeing about what they wanted the country to look like.”
National Heritage Academies (NHA) is a network of 101 tuition-free, public charter schools across nine states, serving more than 68,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. For more information, visit nhaschools.com.
SOURCE National Heritage Academies