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Marymount Students, Staff Embrace the Power of ‘H.E.A.R.T.’

At Marymount of Santa Barbara, H. E. A. R.T. stands for Honesty, Enthusiasm, Altruism, Respect/Responsibility and Teamwork.

At Marymount of Santa Barbara, H. E. A. R.T. stands for Honesty, Enthusiasm, Altruism, Respect/Responsibility and Teamwork.  (Marymount of Santa Barbara photo)

By Molly Seguel for Marymount of Santa Barbara |

“Marymount has H.E.A.R.T.” has become a mantra at Marymount of Santa Barbara.

The simple phrase means much more than it might seem at first glance. H. E. A. R.T. stands for Honesty, Enthusiasm, Altruism, Respect/Responsibility and Teamwork, and is a new and intentionally designed program developed to inspire students to qualities, values and character traits that the school has consistently fostered in students and in the Marymount community as a whole.

To develop the program, a team of five faculty members from five different educational areas — a learning specialist, a school counselor, an administration member, a classroom teacher and a music teacher — conducted research of effective character programs. Of particular interest and focus was a study of responsive classroom teaching and “Schools of Character” such as the Brentwood School in Los Angeles.

Marymount students themselves contributed significantly to the research behind the H.E.A.R.T. program when each class voted on core values they felt were most important for positive citizenship and personal success.

In his recent book How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character, Paul Tough refers to the failure of many character programs in the United States. Critics claim that Tough’s book is groundbreaking in the ways it focuses educators and parents on the fact that character — not simply academic aptitude — is at the root of success. More importantly, Tough’s book shows that character can be taught.

This is not news at Marymount, and it is a vitally important part of the school’s philosophy. In addition to a top-rate, 21st-century education that includes the development of new skills and strong academics, Marymount has a successful history of championing the need for children to develop character traits to help them succeed.

“The H.E.A.R.T. program is testament to the school’s commitment to do this in improved and innovative ways,” Head of School Andrew Wooden said.

H.E.A.R.T. can be seen in daily life at Marymount. Students are encouraged to look for the positive in their classmates and, when they see a classmate demonstrating exemplary behavior, report it to a teacher. “Hearts” are handed out to students whose actions and daily lives show H.E.A.R.T. Classes are challenged to get as many hearts as they can. The ultimate motivation is to spell out the entire word H-E-A-R-T and earn the right to “claim” all of the core values the word represents, and numerous celebrations happen throughout the year when students accomplish this goal.

H.E.A.R.T. is also a word used by teachers to explain how students should approach challenges at school and is seen in every lower school classroom, from art and music to math and science.

“We expect to see a lot of H.E.A.R.T. in this project,” said the Head of the Lower School and force behind H.E.A.R.T.’s development, Elizabeth Hansen, when addressing a group of lower school students recently.

“H.E.A.R.T. has a contagious energy that is very positive,” Hansen said. “The idea and spirit behind H.E.A.R.T. is that there is ‘no room’ for behavior that does not show H.E.A.R.T. — and it’s working.”

Please join Marymount from 3:45 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 20 for an important conversation with Tough. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to hear the bestselling author discuss his groundbreaking ideas behind his highly acclaimed book. This event is free, but seating is limited and we expect a full house. Please RSVP to Admissions Director Molly Seguel at 805.569.1811 x131.

— Molly Seguel is director of admissions for Marymount of Santa Barbara.




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