The Intermountain West’s First and Finest Independent School
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Ethical Education at Rowland Hall

Our actions affect others.
Ethics create community.
Ethics guide civic engagement.

In 1867, Rowland Hall’s foundation was built on ethical and spiritual principals and the clear expectation that every child should strive for personal excellence. Character has been nurtured and expected from our students long before “character education” became a trend at peer schools, locally and nationally.

We believe that no education is complete without a commitment to a worthy purpose and passion for making the world a better place. Therefore, Rowland Hall students are taught, in a thoughtful, age-appropriate, sequential thread from Beginning School through the Upper School to identify ethical themes, recognize ethical actions, practice ethical decision making, and live a meaningful, ethical life. All Rowland Hall students learn that character includes the development of self-discipline, drive, and grit, as well as the universal values embodied by the ethical principles of fairness, empathy, integrity, and altruism.

More important than core classes, exams, grades, or graduation requirements, are the people with whom students spend their days. Our teachers are insightful individuals who share their passion and dedication for knowledge, while also serving as role models in their communities.

You will find few rivals to Rowland Hall’s community engagement program, in the Intermountain West or nationally. Participation in community engagement, whether expanding on curricular themes or through stellar stand-alone projects, starts in the Beginning School and offers each student through high school a deep sense of personal responsibility and belonging.

Our school wide chapel program encourages students to reflect on the values of honesty, compassion, altruism, and community engagement, and offers insights into the traditions of varied cultures and beliefs. Whether focusing on a Virtue of the Month in St. Margaret’s Chapel on the McCarthey Campus or hearing from a guest speaker on the Lincoln Street Campus, our students are immersed in concepts that lead to a life of honor and engagement with others to improve the community.

Teaching Ethics in the Classroom and Community, Inclusion and Sustainability

Beginning School Students IDENTIFY

The Beginning School promotes children’s social/emotional competency by equipping them with the necessary, age appropriate tools to enable them to make informed, responsible, and empathetic choices and decisions. While classroom teachers weave ethics education throughout their curricula, classroom management, and student problem-solving, 4PreK and kindergarten students are introduced to Second Step, a research-based social skills curriculum. Weekly lessons teach students skills for identifying emotions in themselves and others, labeling these emotions, and taking the perspective of others. In addition, students learn skills to manage strong emotions and to solve interpersonal conflicts with peers in a peaceful manner.

The Beginning School has two community building goals for its classrooms: “I belong to a community,” and “I contribute to a community.” Students identify the diverse communities to which they belong and begin to practice being a responsible, contributing community member.

Students begin to learn to be cross-culturally competent when they celebrate the array of family histories and cultures they represent by bringing photos from home and parents are invited to come into classrooms to share different faith traditions and cultural practices. Holiday celebrations feature African American spirituals, Diwali celebrations of light, and the rituals of Hannukah. Even the Flat Stanley project encourages social connections across the nation and the world that foster students’ early awareness of shared values despite geographical or cultural difference.

In chapel, kindergarten students are introduced to music, prayers, stories and teachings from a variety of faith traditions to explore empathy, kindness, caring for our world, and generosity.

Lower School Students RECOGNIZE

The Lower School promotes students’ social and emotional competency by introducing tools to help them make informed, responsible, and empathetic choices and decisions.

The Second Step curriculum continues in first through third grades to help students recognize and empathize with the others’ feelings, practice peaceful problem solving strategies, and manage strong emotions. Fourth and fifth graders graduate to Steps to Respect, which emphasizes inclusivity and friendship building. Through these lessons students also develop the skills to recognize, refuse, and report bullying behavior.

By highlighting a Virtue of the Month, students are encouraged to recognize and practice a range of virtues that reflect core values of the school. Students are also encouraged to engage in the classroom exercise of Bucket Filling, which makes kind words and actions “visible” when students recognize peers who have “filled their bucket.”

Bi-monthly chapel gatherings use the music, prayers, and teachings of multiple traditions to explore topics like caring for our environment and to reinforce virtues such as kindness and generosity. As fourth and fifth grade students begin using one-to-one iPads and email accounts, teachers and staff introduce and reinforce lessons about responsible digital citizenship. Students adopt Common Sense Media’s T.H.I.N.K. test to examine their online communication for appropriateness as they learn to be thoughtful and considerate online citizens.

Lower School students participate in grade level service learning projects focusing on the local community and the wider world. These projects have them serving The Nature Conservancy’s Rainforest Project, Shriner’s Children’s Hospital, the International Rescue Committee, Tracy Aviary, the U.S. military, the Mali Health Organizing Project, Tree Utah, the Utah Food Bank, and more. Teachers and administrators also give encouragement and support to student-driven initiatives such as recycling projects and charitable fundraising efforts.

School-wide service initiatives include the October Food Drive, the Clothing and Book drives, the McCarthey Campus Half Day of Service, the “Be Idle-Free” clean air campaign, and the “Go Green Days” walk/bike/carpool to school initiative.

Middle School Students PRACTICE

Middle School students learn to practice ethical decision-making and behaviors in the classroom, on athletic fields, and in the larger community. Encouraging students to take responsibility for their behaviors is at the heart of the Middle School’s philosophy.

Students are grouped in supportive grade level advisories, where they build on social and emotional competencies by delving into common ethical dilemmas and hands-on activities that allow them to practice ethical decision-making. During the three middle school years our goal is for each student to develop a strong ethical identity.

Students act to address larger community issues through integrated community engagement. Recent projects have included work with the Utah Food Bank, the Horizonte School, and the Homeless Youth Resource Center. Student-initiated drives and fundraisers are encouraged and individual advisories take on service projects such as Sub-for-Santa for Odyssey House and Comunidades Unidas.

Health education is a required class in which students explore how moral codes are shaped by family, peers, religion, and culture, and learn to articulate and safely “test” their own moral and ethical codes. Role playing teaches students appropriate skills for intervening and challenging an unethical or immoral decision, once one recognizes that it is wrong.

In addition week-long class trips put students in situations where they must take responsibility for their own well-being and the well being, emotional and physical, of the larger group. Through sports students practice commitment, responsibility, and respect for others through formal membership on sports teams. Coaches introduce “Raise the Bar: ‘Do Rowdy Right’” initiative-- reinforcing what good sportsmanship looks like as an athlete and as a fan.

Monthly chapel gathering broadens students’ understanding of world religions by introducing specific practices, philosophies, beliefs, and observances.

Middle School students use iPads and email accounts for schoolwork and are expected to be responsible digital citizens. They continue to practice the T.H.I.N.K. test to determine that their online communications are thoughtful and considerate.

Classroom teachers weave ethics education throughout their curricula, classroom management, and support for student problem-solving.

Upper School Students LIVE

Ethical literacy means understanding that one’s actions affect others and that, while deeply held personal values may differ, we are each committed to the ethics that create our community: respect, integrity, and empathy. In the Upper School, students broaden their understanding of the historical arc of ethical paradigms in order to internalize thoughtful decision making.

Recognition of good character occurs daily at school, whether celebrating student-to-student acts of kindness, engaging with guest speakers, or communicating about what we value as a community.

Contributions to the community, whether integrated in dance, science, or ethics class, address issues as diverse as poverty, hunger, autism, wildlife habitat, domestic violence, and racism. Juniors, through Project 11, identify a local need for which they feel passion, then devote time to one organization whose mission is to address that need. While 25 service hours is a requirement of Project 11, nearly 30 percent of our graduates give an additional 25 or more hours and are awarded a Contributor to My Community distinction at graduation. View a list of organizations our students often choose to help, whether through Project 11 or otherwise.

Students also participate in community engagement activities that encourage them to live the mission of the school, such as mid-October's Half Day/Whole Heart. Extracurricular clubs offer opportunities to develop leadership skills and initiative in areas of contributing to the larger community. Institutional practices and curricular units focus on the broader ethics of sustainability, inclusion, and equity.

The Upper School gathers once a month for chapel, broadening understanding of the practices and philosophies of many world religions. A required world religions and ethics class also explores the history and traditions of faith. Cross-cultural competency is also acquired through learning to be an ally by interrupting discriminatory speech or acts whether or not one is a member of the targeted group.

Each spring, our week-long experiential program, Interim, gives students options of participating in a variety of in-town and out-of-town experiences. All Interim proposals explicitly articulate how the experience intersects with the school’s mission and core values.

Upper School athletics provide a platform for developing not just the skills to play competitively, but also the values of fair play, and responsibility. We are very proud of our Winged Lion athletes, coaches, and fans, who are frequently recognized by the Utah High School Activities Association with awards for good sportsmanship.

Guest Speakers

A variety of guest speakers come to Rowland Hall annually to engage students with personal and professional stories of how one lives an ethical life. Since 2012, it has been our honor to welcome the following speakers to Rowland Hall.

Jeremy Beckham, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

Debra Daniels, from the University of Utah Women’s Resource Center

Reverend France A. Davis, Calvary Baptist Church, on the bravery of leadership for MLK, Jr. holiday

Tim deChristopher, environmental activist prosecuted for disrupting federal oil/gas leasing auction, about civil disobedience

Felicity Fouche, former Rowland Hall parent, talking about the experience of living under apartheid in South Africa

Thad Hall, about elections and the Supreme Court case Citizens United vs. the Federal Elections Commission

Governor Gary Herbert (R) speaking about leadership and the importance of being civically engaged as young people.

Lee Hirsch, director of the film Bully

Dr. Bryan Hotchkins, University of Utah professor speaking on #blacklivesmatter

Darryl Hunt, founder of the Darryl Hunt Project for Freedom and Justice. Mr. Hunt spent nearly 20 years in prison before being exonerated

Kelli Hyland, Salt Lake City psychiatrist, about recovery from trauma and her work with local veterans of war in conjunction with English classes reading One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and The Things They Carried

Maz Jobrani, Islamic comedian from a group called Axis of Evil, dealing with stereotyping

Mat Johnson, author of Incognegro, discussing adaptation of the graphic novel form to the story of African American reporters “passing” in the South to expose lynching

Jeremy Jones, professional snowboarder and founder of Protect Our Winters, on effects of climate change

Scott Jurek, ultra-marathoner, about personal motivation and pushing beyond one’s perceived limits

Dr. Musimbi Kanyoro, CEO and President of the Global Fund for Women

Marion Blumenthal Lazan, Holocaust survivor and author of Four Perfect Pebbles

Kweku Mandela, son of Nelson Mandela, promoting a film on forgiveness and dialogue called "Beyond Right and Wrong: Stories on Justice and Forgiveness"

Teri Martin and David Garbett, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, and Tim Catlin from the Wild Utah Project, and David Pacheco from HEAL Utah speaking with Environmental Science classes

Imam Muhammed Matar, leader of the Utah Islamic Society

Dr. Susan J. Matt, Weber State University history department chair, about how advertisers at the turn of the 19th century transformed the emotion of envy to legitimize consumer desire and culture

Olivia Mattis, Stony Brook University, about the heroic work of Aristides de Sousa Mendes

Lawrence Parker, University of Utah, on the experience of students of color in independent schools

Kelly Patterson, BYU professor and former Rowland Hall Board Member, speaking about keeping dialogue civil during elections

Charles Randall Paul from the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy speaking on the importance of considering the perspectives of other religions

Michael Spurgeon, alumnus, author of Let the Water Hold Me Down, discussing writing as a profession and the geopolitical themes of his novel: making a choice rather than being a bystander

Ted Ward, head coach of the University of Utah’s women’s volleyball team, about Title IX

Jeff Whitbeck, Momentum Recycling, about challenges of a start-up glass recycling business in the valley

Kilo Zamora from Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable presenting to the Lower School Home and School Association about raising culturally aware young people.

Jacki Zehner and Geralyn Dreyfous, producers of the documentary The Hunting Ground

Michael Zimmerman, former Federal Court Judge, on Zen Buddhism and Mindfulness

Nathan Zwick-Smith, alumnus, on the effects of global climate change and the choices available to students who want to “begin to make a difference”

Embracing Inclusion and Equity in our Community

Rowland Hall represents a diverse community that encompasses differences in the human experience including those of ethnicity, race, national origin, family make-up, religion, gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and learning styles, among others. To that end, we affirm that:
  • Deepening our knowledge of and appreciation for each other's differences nurtures moral and intellectual growth, fosters a sense of belonging, and creates a stronger community;
  • Building awareness that we each have distinct power and privilege inspires us to embrace our responsibility and work toward an equitable and just community;
  • Cultivating a diverse and inclusive learning environment prepares our children to effectively participate in a dynamic and increasingly interconnected world.

We recognize that engaging in this work is an evolving process that must be sustained through constant dialogue and effort. All members of Rowland Hall commit to carrying out this mission in our school and wider community.

Diversity Philosophy

Human diversity encompasses all the ways that people differ, including ability, age, gender identity and expression, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status. Rowland Hall is committed to diversity and the promotion of an academic community in which each member feels connected, comfortable, respected, and included. Rowland Hall is non-discriminatory and includes students, parents, faculty, board, and staff from a variety of backgrounds. The school places an emphasis on educating students about our increasingly diverse world. The school recognizes that we may face difficulties as we work to become a more inclusive institution. Rather than avoiding these challenges, we recognize that progress comes from embracing and celebrating diversity.

This Statement of Diversity is based upon and extends the core values of Rowland Hall. To that end, we affirm the following:

  • To treat individuals and groups with dignity;
  • To respect diversity of opinions, beliefs, practices, and ideas;
  • To reflect and honor the history and backgrounds that we represent.

Our Sustainable School

Rowland Hall is dedicated to the promise of an environmentally responsible culture within our school and the larger community. We encourage all community members to engage in educational experiences that foster a deep understanding of our interdependent relationships with nature. As a result, we strive to identify, initiate, and implement projects and curriculum to increase environmental awareness and stewardship. Read more on our Sustainability page. The following are examples of sustainability initiatives at Rowland Hall.

Green Schools
As a charter member of the Green Schools Alliance, Rowland Hall has pledged to address climate change and environmental stewardship. The Green Schools is a national project with a mission of enhancing student health and learning, conserving natural resources, and empowering students to develop sustainable behaviors, enabling them to become the stewards of the future.

Go Green Days
Students are encouraged to walk, bike, carpool, and use mass transit once a month on Go Green Days.

Sustainability in the Curriculum

  • Lower School science garden projects
  • Middle School air pollution education unit
  • Upper School Environmental Science individual service-learning action plans (iSLAP) projects
A school-wide program is dedicated to recycling of plastic, paper, and aluminum on both campuses.

Environs Club
The Upper School student-led Environs Club is open to all students who are interested and passionate about environmental causes. The Environs Club provides a way for students to pursue their interests while supporting our sustainability efforts.

The greater community is invited to take the opportunity to dig deep, get involved, and participate in organic, sustainable gardening on the back of Rowland Hall’s Steiner Campus in the community garden.

Our composting initiative came to fruition with the acquisition of the Earth Tub used to compost food waste from both of our cafeterias.

Anti-Idling Initiatives
We are committed to anti-idling and use our Curb Your Carbon Campaign to communicate this message and teach students about the effect idling has on our air quality.

Sustainability Committee
The Rowland Hall Sustainability Committee is a faculty- and staff-led committee that invites input from students, staff, and administration. Through our efforts we endeavor to create a culture of conservation and sustainability through our curriculum, everyday practices and policies, and plant operations. Please email sustainability coordinator Andrew Hagedorn
to get involved.

You Belong at Rowland Hall


720 South Guardsman Way
Salt Lake City, Utah 84108
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