Character-Based Curriculum to Shape Well-Rounded Students

This independent day school for grades PK-8 folds 18 'character qualities' into daily instruction to help children become kind, thoughtful and productive citizens.

What do you look for most when choosing a school for your child?

One that offers a knowledgeable staff, solid curriculum and enriching extracurriculars is a must, but one that also sees character education as equal to academics – preparing students for life outside of the classroom – is gold star status.

And that’s exactly what parents find at Japhet School in Clawson. This independent coeducational day school for students in preschool through grade eight gives students a strong foundation that will help them excel through high school and beyond, and they do this by helping students expect and express the best in themselves through its award-winning character education curriculum.

This unique style of education focuses on 18 important character qualities that are integrated with traditional coursework. These character qualities, which include initiative, gratitude, justice, patriotism, joy and humility, among others, are connected to learning and doing, starting as early as preschool.

“It’s all developmentally appropriate,” Kerri Vizena, the Head of School, explains. “When visiting preschool you’ll see children practicing respect for others by working in a group, or expressing reliability by cleaning up their own things. And just down the hall, older students practice qualities like courage to try a new mathematical skill, or humility when receiving edits to a creative writing assignment. Character is always relevant.”

Justice has a special place at Japhet School. Students practice peaceful conflict resolution and, especially in the older grades, look for evidence of justice in the world around them and in literature they read. Teachers believe that opening discussion, rather than leading it, is what emboldens each student to have a voice and to better listen to others’ ideas.

And because Japhet School offers small class sizes that are fewer than 20 students, each child is uniquely known. This not only helps students build confidence, respect and self-control, it also improves their public speaking skills and fosters bonds in the classroom.

Japhet School doesn’t just raise “good kids.” The school’s motto, “Strength for the future,” speaks to the greater vision: to build competent, ethical, and thoughtful adults.

“Today’s work world is all about collaboration. Not many people go into an office, close their door and spend their day in there,” says Robin Pospisil, the school’s admissions director. “You’re frequently working around a table, writing together or working together. You’re communicating, you’re fixing problems, you’re brainstorming as teams. Students learn that when character and teamwork meet skill and innovation, the result is true collaboration … and it’s something they want to be a part of. They carry that goal into adulthood.”

“Our school is very much a community. Students and teachers value their relationships. Then when you add the parent to that, you have a wonderful team that’s working toward the same goal. This can only be beneficial because the more you build those relationships and communicate, the more trust there is,” Vizena says. “Trust is so important in a school. It helps children feel safe and express joy as learners, it gives teachers freedom to teach and act upon a student’s best academic interests, and it assures parents that they chose the right educational environment for their child.”

For more information about Japhet School, or to set up a tour and start the application process, visit them online at


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