Character Education

The character education program at The Briarwood School focuses on directly teaching and reinforcing positive character attributes, such as growth mindset and grit. Research shows that character strengths like self- control, curiosity, and gratitude are critically important to the overall physical, social and emotional well- being of each student.

Character- building language is embedded into daily instruction and discussions.  Through positive behavior support, students have opportunities to:
  • Problem solve and make decisions
  • Examine choices and consequences
  • Develop perspective- taking skills
  • Self- advocate and utilize resources
  • Work cooperatively and support others
  • Practice a growth mindset
Briarwood’s daily multifaceted program includes:
  • Creating and maintaining a safe and positive learning environment
  • Providing consistent routines and expectations
  • Encouraging students to make mistakes, persevere, take academic risks, try something new and difficult



Briarwood seeks to promote the development of the whole child-intellectually, socially, emotionally, and physically.  We begin in Lower School with our T.O.P.S. program.

Right Choice Awards

In connection to the direct instruction provided in T.O.P.S., teachers throughout the Lower School reinforce positive character traits by giving students Right Choice awards.  Each month, a specific character trait is directly taught in T.O.P.S. class, and teachers award individuals when students demonstrate one of the character traits.  Our goal, as said by our founder, Yvonne Tuttle Streit, is to "catch them doing something good!"  Students are recognized during morning assembly when they have earned a Right Choice.  By involving everyone, a unity of purpose prevails, resulting in students experiencing the pride that comes from being recognized publically for making "right choices."  The character traits are based upon the growth mindset and grit research by Dr. Carole Dweck and Dr. Angela Duckworth.

August/September           Growth Mindset & Purpose
October Grit
November/December Gratitude
January Optimism
February Social Intelligence
March Self Control
April Zest
May Curiosity

Lower School supports the social skills and character development of students by providing direct instruction as needed for learning these skills, opportunities to practice skills in a safe and nurturing environment, and feedback including positive reinforcement.  There are several opportunities to recognize and celebrate student successes, including KCC Hearts and Right Choice awards.


“Even if a child is enjoying academic success in the classroom, his attitude about school will be determined by the degree of social success that he experiences.”- Rick Lavoie, MA, M.Ed.

Research has shown that children with learning differences and attention deficits have an increased risk of:

  • Experiencing a lack of friendship
  • Poor self esteem
  • Substance abuse
  • Less emotional resiliency

TOPS, a class unique to the Lower School at Briarwood offers direct instruction and opportunities for students to practice developmentally appropriate social and pragmatic skills.

Students attend TOPS for 2- 30 minute sessions where they:

  • Participate in a variety of games and activities
  • Foster friendships
  • Equip students to respond to bullying, build self-esteem, and appreciate differences in others
  • Develop the art of public speaking through role plays, drama performances, and delivering speeches
The T.O.P.S. class introduces students to some of the concepts from several best practice interventions and research, including:


KCC stands for kindness, compassion, and courage; in short, this is Briarwood's kindness club!  The KCC Club continues the legacy of the Rachel's Challenge program by spreading kindness and compassion throughout our school, homes, and community.  All Lower School students are members of our KCC Club.  They have the opportunity to attend monthly grade-level meetings and all-school assemblies, participating in games and activities to learn more about kindness, community service and showing gratitude.  Students and teachers can give a KCC heart to someone that demonstrates the KCC characteristics.  Every Friday, students and teachers show their KCC pride by wearing the colorful KCC t-shirt.  The KCC Club fosters a caring community and encourages students to look for ways to be kind towards one another, as well appreciate acts of kindness done by others.