Where Principles Come First

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The Hyde School operates on the principle that if you teach students the merit
of such values astruth, courage, integrity, leadership, curiosity and concern,
then academic achievement naturallyfollows.
Hyde School founder Joseph Gauld claims success with the program at the
$18,000-a-yearhigh school in Bath, Maine,
which has received considerable publicity for its work with troubledyoungsters.
"We don't see ourselves as a school for a type of kid," says Malcolm Gauld, Joseph's son,
whograduated from Hyde and is now headmaster. "We see ourselves as preparing kids for a way of life
by cultivating a comprehensive set of principles that can affect all kids."
Now, Joe Gauld is trying to spread his controversial Character First idea to public, inner-city
schoolswilling to use the tax dollars spent on the traditional program for the new approach.
The first Hydepublic school program opened in September 1992.
Within months the program was suspended.
Teachers protested the program's demands and the strain associated with more intense work.
This fall, the Hyde Foundation is scheduled to begin a preliminary public school
program inBaltimore. Teachers will be trained to later work throughout the entire Baltimore system.
Other USschool managers are eyeing the program, too.
Last fall, the Hyde Foundation opened a magnet programwithin a public high school in the suburbs
of New Haven, Connecticut, over parents' protests. Thecommunity feared the school would attract
inner-city minority and troubled students.
As in Maine the quest for truth is also widespread at the school in Connecticut.
In one English class,the 11 students spend the last five minutes in an energetic
exchange evaluating their class performancefor the day on a 1-10 scale.
"I get a 10." "I challenge that. You didn't do either your grammar or your spelling homework."
"OK, a seven." "You ought to get a six."
"Wait, I put my best effort forth here."
"Yeah, but you didn't ask questions today." Explaining his approach to education,
Joe Gauld says the conventional education system cannot bereformed. He notes "no amount of change"
with the horse and carriage "will produce an automobile".
The Hyde School assumes "every human being has a unique potential" that is based on character,
notintelligence or wealth. Conscience and hard work are valued.
Success is measured by growth, notacademic achievement.
Students are required to take responsibility
for each other. To avoid thecontroversy of other character programs used in US schools,
Gauld says the concept of doing your besthas nothing to do with
forcing the students to accept a particular set of morals or religious values.
The Hyde curriculum is similar to conventional schools that provide preparation for college,
completewith English, history, math and science. But all students are required to take performing
arts andsports, and provide a community service. For each course, students get a grade for
academicachievement and for "best effort". At Bath, 97% of the graduates attend four-year colleges.
Commitment among parents is a key ingredient in the Hyde mixture.
For the student to gainadmission, parents also must agree to accept and
demonstrate the school's philosophies and outlook.
The parents agree in writing to meet monthly in one of 20 regional groups,
go to a yearly three-dayregional retreat, and spend at least three times a year in workshops,
discussion groups and seminars atBath. Parents of Maine students have an attendance rate of
95% in the many sessions. Joe and MalcolmGauld both say children tend to do their utmost
when they see their parents making similar efforts.
The biggest obstacle for many parents, they say, is to realize their own weaknesses.
The process for public school parents is still being worked out,
with a lot more difficulty because it isdifficult to convince parents that it is
worthwhile for them to participate. Of the 100 students enrolledin New Haven,
about 30% of the parents attend special meetings. The low attendance is in spite of
commitments they made at the outset of the program when Hyde officials interviewed 300 families.
Once the problems are worked out, Hyde should work well in public schools,
says a teacher at Bathwho taught for 14 years in public schools. He is optimistic
that once parents make a commitment to theprogram,
they will be daily role models for their children,
unlike parents whose children are in boardingschools.
One former inner-city high school teacher who now works in the New Haven program,
says teachersalso benefit. "Here we really begin to focus on having a fruitful
relationship with each student. Our focusis really about teacher to student and
then we together deal with the…academics. In the traditionalhigh school setting,
it's teacher to the material and then to the student." The teacher-studentrelationship is
taken even further at Hyde. Faculty evaluations are conducted by the students.
Jimmy DiBattista, 19, is amazed he will graduate this May from the Bath campus
and plans to attenda university. Years ago, he had seen his future as "jail, not college".
DiBattista remembers his first days at Hyde.
"When I came here, I insulted and cursed everybody. Every other school was,
'Get out, we don'twant to deal with you. 'I came here and they said,
'We kind of like that spirit. We don't like it with thenegative attitudes.
We want to turn that spirit positive.'"