Character Counts

KIPP’s motto – “Work hard. Be nice.” – is more than a tagline.

Since KIPP’s beginning in 1994, the development of character has been as important to us as the teaching of rigorous academic skills. Together, they are the yin-yang that make our schools come alive. We believe both are critical to the success of our students in college and life.

GRATITUDE
Students recognize what others did for them and express appreciation by saying thank you or do something nice for someone else as a way of thanking them.
SOCIAL INTELLIGENCE
Students are aware of motives and feelings of other people and oneself; including the ability to reason within large and small groups. They are able to find solutions during conflicts with others. They demonstrate respect for feelings of others and know when and how to include others.
OPTIMISM
Students expect the best in the future and work to achieve it. They get over frustrations and setbacks quickly and believe that effort will improve his/her future.



SELF-CONTROL
Students regulate what they feel and do and are self-disciplined. At school they: come to class prepared, pay attention and resist distractions, remember and follow directions, get to work right away rather than procrastinating. Personally they: stay calm even when criticized or otherwise provoked, allow others to speak without interruption, are polite to adults and peers, and keep their tempers in check.
ZEST
Students approach life with excitement and energy. They feel alive and activated. They actively participate, show enthusiasm, and invigorate others.
CURIOSITY
Students are active in their learning and show an eagerness to explore new things and ask questions that help them deepen their understanding.
GRIT
Students finish what they start, completing tasks despite obstacles. They show a combination of persistence and resilience. They try very hard even after experiencing failure and work independently with focus.


About KIPP’s Character Work

KIPP NYC offers teachers, kids, and parents a structured, meaningful way to talk about and develop character. Our approach is rooted in the research of Dr. Martin Seligman (University of Pennsylvania) and Dr. Chris Peterson (University of Michigan) that identifies 24 character strengths as leading to engaged, meaningful, and purposeful lives. At KIPP NYC, explicitly creating opportunities to develop character is infused into every aspect of the school day.

We focus on seven highly predictive character strengths: zest, grit, self-control, optimism, gratitude, social intelligence, and curiosity. We’ve integrated our own experiences as teachers with the research of Seligman, Peterson, and Dr. Angela Duckworth (University of Pennsylvania) to create a roadmap for the development of each strength.

KIPP schools around the country are now capitalizing on the work of KIPP NYC to integrate a more structured and measurable approach to character development.