No. 108 | Life & Learning

McDonogh’s Guiding Principles: Words to Live By

McDonogh’s Character Compass and Mission, Vision, and Values provide direction.

Character Compass
Designed in 2009, the Character Compass symbolizes the foundational tenets of the McDonogh philosophy and provides a shared sense of direction for every child and adult who is part of the McDonogh community. 

The four compass points, the values of respect, responsibility, honesty, and kindness, give direction and are emphasized in the daily interactions among the people in our community. Across grade levels, teachers and coaches proactively build learning environments that lead to positive behavior and explicitly teach students to interact in constructive ways. Each division has specific guidelines for behavior that align with the Compass values. Lower schoolers are asked to meet the challenge of the poem, Be the Best of Whatever You Are (see Story No. 94 ). Middle and Upper School students are asked to sign an honor pledge (see Story No. 80 ) annually which states simply, “I will not lie, cheat, or steal. I will respect the rights and well-being of myself and others.”

At the center of the Compass and at the heart of McDonogh’s character development effort is the principle of service. At every grade level, teachers discuss and plan the most effective, age-appropriate ways to teach students the value of service. By actively engaging in service-related activities, students experience the intrinsic rewards that come from assisting those in need (see Story No. 65 ). 

Mission, Vision, and Values
In 2021, the Board of Trustees gave McDonogh’s Mission Statement a fresh look and expanded it to include Vision and Values. 

McDonogh is a school that finds joy in work and play. We prepare students to lead in a rapidly changing world. Our mission is to provide life-altering educational experiences that inspire personal and intellectual growth. 

Our vision is of a dynamic, inclusive community built on lifelong relationships, the pursuit of excellence, and a shared commitment to do the greatest possible amount of good.

Integrity. Strong character consists of being true to oneself and honest with others.
Respect. Empathy and civil discourse help make McDonogh a place where everyone belongs. 
Resilience. The ability to overcome life’s challenges with grace is essential for self-discovery.
Curiosity. We are lifelong learners in joyful pursuit of knowledge and wisdom.
Gratitude. “We give something more than we take” because service to others brings meaning and purpose.

Learn more about McDonogh School's rich history by visiting the archives online.

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