Trinity School places great emphasis on character education as it affects both the individual and the community as a whole. We are a learning environment that supports the teaching of character and values education and its daily integration into the life of the School. Most components of behavior and decorum are taught through direct instruction, modeling, and situations that arise in the school community. Harmonious and civil relationships among students, faculty, staff, and parents in the Trinity community are the expectation. This should be demonstrated by a respect for others’ views and a supportive attitude.
Parents choose Trinity in part for its emphasis on values. All students and all adults are expected to conduct themselves with civility and respect, even during times of differing viewpoints and opinions. Concerns, problems, and miscommunication should always be addressed between adults with common regard. Teachers’ behavior is held to a high standard at Trinity, as is parents’ behavior. It is rare that a Trinity parent becomes disrespectful toward a teacher, administrator, or another parent. If a parent does display blatant disregard for others, that individual will be directed to review the following point in the Online Enrollment Contract: “When the School feels parent dissatisfaction is such that the child’s and/or the School’s best interests are being harmed, Trinity may ask the parent to withdraw the child from the School.” Likewise, as a result of inappropriate behavior, a parent may be asked by the Head of School to remain off-campus though the child may still attend school.
No other aspect of school life carries more significance than citizenship. Cooperation, courtesy, respect, and consideration of others contribute immensely to the daily life and spirit of the School. Although education is the School’s major goal, responsibility to others is fundamental in our life together, with each student being responsible for his or her own actions.
Discipline of Students
Discipline at Trinity is designed to maintain a community in which each member is safe and respected. We seek to promote an atmosphere of honesty, integrity, and care for one another in the mutual spirit of cooperation and respect between students and faculty. In order to help students become self-directed and cooperative members of a larger group, we are clear about both the behaviors that support learning within a group setting and behaviors that are inappropriate. Both forms of behavior have results or consequences. The positive results are easily seen in the child with strong self-discipline, self-motivation, a respect for self and others, and a willingness to cooperate and learn.
Negative behavior has its consequences as well. The disciplinary code stated below delineates those behaviors that are not acceptable in the Trinity community and the consequences that follow such behaviors.
From time to time, there will be situations that arise that require consequences. In most cases, it is our hope that these consequences will be logical and natural and will be positive learning experiences for the students. At other times, a teacher may deem that an offense requires more than a natural consequence. In these instances, the following system applies.
General Student Expectations
- Treat others as you would want them to treat you.
- Be polite in conversations with teachers and other students.
- Be respectful to other students and adults whether they are faculty, staff, visitors, or substitute teachers.
- Be prompt in arriving at school, attending class, and completing work.
- Move safely throughout the building, being courteous to others in the hallway and mindful of students and adults at work.
- Keep the campus free of litter.
- Keep furniture and walls free of graffiti.
- Respect the property of Trinity School and of others.
- Write or mark in textbooks and workbooks only when instructed to do so.
- Refrain from using inappropriate language at school.
- Do not bring gum or carbonated beverages to school.
- Eat only at snack time, lunch time, or when permitted by a teacher in the designated areas, and clean up after yourself.
- Use telephones only with permission from a teacher or office staff. Students should not call home for forgotten homework or to make social arrangements.
- Refrain from bringing money (except for special activities) or other personal valuables to school.
Minor to Moderate Offenses
Teachers and students annually develop classroom agreements and procedures, which often include the following minor to moderate offenses:
- Excessive talking in class
- Not following directions
- Lack of responsibility
- Inappropriate or excessive disruptive or distracting behavior
- Loss of self-control
- Tardiness to class (Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Grade)
The appropriate consequences for such offenses will be determined by the teacher based on the offense and the individual student. If a pattern of behavior emerges, the Division Head and parents will be notified and involved in any additional consequences or next steps.
On rare occasions, young children bite. In such instances, parents of the biting child will be contacted to implement a home-school behavior modification plan. In the case of excessive or repeated biting, procedures for serious offenses will be followed.
Major behavioral disruptions will be communicated to the Division Head, who then will determine next steps, which typically include contacting parents and the Head of School. These infractions include:
- Rude or disrespectful comments, including profanity
- Open or persistent defiance
- Deliberate and persistent meanness, teasing, or taunting (verbal bullying)
- Roughhousing or fighting
- Excessive or repeated biting
- Inappropriate use of technology
- Damage to property
- Leaving school without permission
- Engaging in malicious or destructive gossip
- Drug, alcohol, or tobacco use
- Violence or threats of violence
- Physical harassment, bullying, or cyberbullying (see separate section on Peer Aggression)
- Racial or ethnic slurs
- Sexual aggression
Any one of these infractions may result in a serious consequence, up to suspension and expulsion. Depending on the circumstances, on-campus or off-campus suspension may occur as determined by the Division Head in discussion with the Head of School. If a child continues such behavior, the parents may be asked to withdraw the child from school. The final decision in all matters of discipline is based on the discretion of the appropriate Division Head and the Head of School.Peer Aggression
One of the hallmarks of Trinity School’s education is the cultivation of respect, responsibility, and positive relationships. However, administrators and teachers at Trinity School realize that negative social behavior can and does occur at the School, just as it does at any school. Responding to it constructively requires the collaborative support of students, teachers, administrators, and parents. With collaboration, a commitment to decreasing negative social behavior will be maximized.
Destructive teasing, harassment, and bullying rarely occur when an adult is observing. Those who carry out peer aggression have a keen eye for adult supervision. Recess, lunch times, hallways, break times, before and after school, over the phone, during social interaction outside of school, as well as via the internet and email are common occasions when children both engage in and are troubled by the unkind actions of peers. Children’s negative social behavior can be subtle, rejecting, cruel, and extremely difficult for those not involved to detect.
Negative social behavior occurs in both girls and boys, and tends to manifest itself differently in each gender. Boys tend to be more physical in their behavior, while girls are more verbal and emotional. As girls get older, negative behavior can be rejecting in subtle, psychological, and emotional ways. The following definitions outline the most common forms of peer aggression.
What separates peer aggression from the typical interpersonal development experienced by children learning to navigate their social world is that peer aggression is intentional, repetitive, and involves an imbalance of social power.
- Verbal Aggression - obvious and/or hidden verbal acts of aggression toward another person, such as threats, put-downs, and name-calling
- Relational Aggression - behavior that is intended to harm someone by damaging or manipulating his or her relationships with others Relationally aggressive behaviors include exclusion, malicious gossip and rumor spreading, teasing and name calling, alliance building, covert physical aggression, sexual aggression, and cyberbullying.
- Physical Aggression - harm or the threat of harm to another’s physical well-being
Reports of peer aggression are taken seriously and addressed expeditiously.
Teachers and Division Heads deal directly with students who engage in negative social behavior. When needed, the Head of School sees offending students, often times with parents. Dependent on circumstances, consequences can include letters of apology, community service in the School, referrals for professional support, suspension, and expulsion from the School.
In a situation in which a child is being harassed or bullied, the well-being of that child is paramount; however, the needs of the child engaging in the negative behavior also require attention.
Trinity does not believe that a “zero tolerance” policy works with children. Young children need the opportunity to learn from mistakes. Individual consequences need to be applied dependent on the personal circumstances of each child. At the same time, when improvement in behavior is not made, the School reserves the right to institute more stringent consequences, ranging from suspension to expulsion.