Character Education

Renaissance School is grounded in the concept of developing the whole adolescent. Social and emotional health and well-being are intrinsically bound to academic success. We overtly teach social skills and discuss emotions common to middle school students.

We base our practice on the Student Advisories program developed by Susan MacLaury. Dr. MacLaury is a professor at Kean University, a licensed social worker, and an Emmy-winning, Academy Award- nominated film producer. She is a Montclair resident. Dr. MacLaury provided our staff with the initial training for effective Student Advisories and trained several staff to become turnkey trainers.

Our Advisories program is built into all students' schedules weekly Monday through Thursday. The program builds students' competencies as leaders and as group members. By using the program, our teachers are able to facilitate valuable group problem solving that draws on the students' own experiences to develop strong, independent thinkers.

As a result of the use of Advisories, we have mechanisms for both preventing conflict and addressing conflict in a constructive, problem-solving-oriented manner. We work to reshape negative behavior and negative feelings when they do occur.

An extension of our commitment to developing character is teaching social responsibility. All students are assigned to Community Service for one quarter. All Community Service occurs in our own community and is part of our Fantastic Friday program. Students who will one day become community leaders learn to joy and responsibility of connecting to their community in a worthwhile way. Currently four Montclair Public Schools and several area early childhood programs are service sites for our students. Alumni often choose to work at these sites. Additionally, the Township Attorney's Office, the Animal Shelter, and local food programs are valued partners in our Community Service program.

Social and Emotional Learning

We believe that students learn best when they feel safe in school, both physically and emotionally. To meet our goal, we have implemented a variety of social and emotional learning programs.

  • Advisories


  • Much of Renaissance's social and emotional learning takes place during the advisory period& with homeroom teachers.

  • Peer Mediation


  • We are currently piloting a Peer Mediation program. Each grade selects students that they feel would be helpful in solving problems.

  • New Jersey Peer to Peer Program


  • Several students are selected every year to participate in the New Jersey Peer to Peer Program, which trains students to learn about substance abuse and provide leadership to their peers through classroom activities, assemblies, and informal contact throughout the school day.

  • Counseling


  • Counseling in available on an as-needed basis to help students solve problems or sort through personal issues, or on a longer-term basis if it is needed.

  • Personal Growth Groups


All 7th and 8th Graders students have an opportunity to participate in personal growth groups. They offer an intense experience intended to help relatively healthy people function better on an interpersonal level.

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