Elementary School

Integrating Faith and Character: How The Positivity Project Enriches Catholic Education at Holy Cross School

By Betsy Davenport

I have been looking for a social emotional learning (SEL) program for our Catholic school that has a weekly character focus, but also that provides the opportunity to infuse our Catholic faith into the program. The Positivity Project (P2) has allowed me to do so seamlessly!

The weekly character strengths we focus on with P2 are so easy to connect to Catholic values. Each week, I have a Saint of the Week that is an example of that week’s character strength. For example, St. Faustina took the virtue of gratitude even further by thanking God continually for “the little daily crosses” she experienced. Sharing these connections between the saints of our faith and the weekly character strengths provides our students with faithful examples they can emulate. I also share daily devotions that align with the weekly character strength. For example, with the character strength of Self-Control, we discussed through our daily devotion that biblical self-control is an opportunity for us to make wise choices to enhance our lives and those around us. It is an opportunity for us to place God in control and not give in to the temptations in front of us, but rather to choose (through self-control) to stay focused on our long-term goals and the life God wants for us. During morning prayer, we ask God to provide us with opportunities to grow in that character strength and fulfill His desire for us as it relates to the weekly character strength.

Utilizing P2’s resources, I have created a great schedule and routine for our morning announcements and prayer. On Mondays, I introduce the week’s character strength using The Positivity Project’s resource script for announcements, and I introduce the Saint of the Week by name. On Tuesdays, I discuss the Saint of the Week and their connection to the week’s character strength. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, I share a daily devotion focused on the weekly character strength. On Fridays, we gather as a whole school in our main hallway. During that time, I ask our students about our weekly character strength – providing the opportunity for them to share things they have learned. I also invite our school community to share how they witnessed others exhibiting behaviors and choices consistent with this week’s character strength. I love how utilizing this routine for our announcements and prayer time helps to bridge what the students are learning in class through The Positivity Project lessons with our Catholic faith.

The Positivity Project provides incredible resources for our staff to effectively teach our students about each week’s character strength. Our teachers have shared that so often the P2 curriculum connects to other subjects, specifically religion and social studies. It has been a gift to witness our students notice these connections – truly “lightbulb” moments. That is what is so great about The Positivity Project – it is natural to discuss the subjects provided by the P2 schedule of character strengths.

However, having the program provides not only the opportunity and schedule, it also provides all that is needed to implement it with very little planning. That is so important at a time when our teachers are stretched so thin. That, combined with a social emotional learning program that so easily connects to our faith-based learning, makes The Positivity Project a perfect fit here at Holy Cross Catholic School. Holy Cross is a preschool through eighth grade school. That can prove difficult at times when looking for any program that can appeal to and accommodate such a vast difference in age. P2 is a great fit for that because of the differentiated resources for each grade level. I love that I can introduce and reinforce the key concepts in The Positivity Project’s curriculum through our morning announcements, prayer time, and time spent with students on an individual and small group level; while our teachers are able to do the same at each grade level, utilizing resources that are age appropriate and effective.

I feel I have found the program I have been searching for over the last five years. The Positivity Project is opening conversations and the vocabulary in our classrooms and our school as a whole. That’s when it really can affect the cultural shift. As a Catholic school administrator, combining the incredible programming of The Positivity Project with our Catholic values is creating a positive cultural shift. It is a shift that I am excited about and looking forward to witnessing as our students embrace their character strengths combined with embracing who God has designed them to be!

Betsy Davenport
Principal, Holy Cross Catholic School

Betsy Davenport is the principal of Holy Cross Catholic School, a preschool-8th grade school located in Marine City, Michigan. She has taught in public and Catholic elementary schools for over ten years.