Deer Run School - Building the Foundation for Resiliency

Nov. 17, 2014

When you walk into the office of Deer Run School, a large banner hangs on the wall. On it is the image of two deer; the school’s mascot. When you look closer, you will see that the outline of the deer is mostly made up of photos of students from the school. This banner is a visual representation of students building character.

Deer Run School’s character education program focuses on resiliency. Students are encouraged to develop and demonstrate six separate character traits that promote resiliency:

  • perseverance
  • leadership
  • self-confidence
  • being and having a supportive friend
  • igniting your spark
  • critical thinking.

These six traits make up what the school calls a “resiliency house”. Each trait represents a block in the house and when the house is full, students are more likely to be able to withstand whatever life throws at them. The traits are covered all throughout the year and as students demonstrate one or more of the six blocks, their picture is placed on the banner in the office. They also receive recognition at a school assembly.

This program began in March 2011, and the school is hopeful that all of the “Deer Outlines” will be filled by the end of this year. This part of the program was developed in conjunction with the school’s work with Alberta Health and grew out of their understanding of the Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets for resiliency.

The school also has a strong community focus, opening its doors on Saturdays for families in the community to get to know each other. Other initiatives such as F&ST are also so a big part of the school’s resiliency program.

This approach has given students and teachers a common language and shared expectations around character. Their focus on resiliency is helping students gain confidence and is teaching them to stand strong when challenges arise.