“I believe in human dignity as the source of national purpose, human liberty as the source of nation action, the human heart as the source of national compassion, and in the human mind as the source of our invention and our ideas.”
~John F. Kennedy
At the foundation of the Dearborn Academy community is the concept of human dignity. Too often in our society, people don’t receive the compassion, respect or understanding that they deserve. But at Dearborn we believe that everyone deserves these things. We welcome and embrace students who have been labeled as less-than because we believe in their dignity and their potential. We know that when people struggle, it's due to difficult life circumstances—and difficult challenges can happen to anyone at anytime.
Our goal is to build people up, not bring them down. At Dearborn we are committed to sustaining an environment where peace rules and where who you are is revealed in your acts of kindness, compassion and courage.
The Human Dignity Program
For more than a decade, Dearborn Academy students, staff and teachers have been crafting and fine-tuning the Human Dignity Program, an explicit code that forms the cornerstone of our school and how we interact with each other. It starts with a simple code of conduct that simultaneously affirms the worth and rights of every individual while making clear the responsibility of each member of the community to respect his or her peers. The Human Dignity Program fosters pride and a strong sense of self worth—and gives you the confidence to be kind and compassionate when it is hardest and encourages you to take up the challenge of being a conscientious citizen who will stand up for what's right long after you graduate.
The fundamental principles of the human dignity program are not complicated, but the more we think and talk about them with each other, the more we live by them and internalize them, the more complex and far-reaching their meanings become. What does it mean to have the right to your own identity when you aren't yet an adult? Where is the line between standing up for what you believe and not imposing your views on others? How do we balance our views when we live and learn in such a diverse environment? We might not always come up with the best answers, but we will learn much from the conversations and reflections we engage in.
- Everyone has the right to live in a peaceful environment, free and safe from emotional or physical harm.
- Everyone has the right to opportunities for academic, social and emotional growth.
- Everyone has the right to be treated with respect and civility.
- The rules of a community protect the right of all members of the community—and must be applied consistently and fairly.
- Everyone has the right to her or his identity and beliefs.
- No one has the right to impose his or her opinions or beliefs on others.
- Discrimination or cruelty, physical or psychological, cannot be tolerated in a caring and compassionate community.
Many Dearborn students have spent much of their lives feeling and even being told that they aren’t "good enough." When our students strive to do better, when they reach out to others and make a conscientious effort to grow and take on leadership roles in the school community, we want to recognize their hard work. Each year, as a school, we publicly honor those who exemplify the principles of peace, equality, and compassion. Some of the achievements we celebrate are:
- Helpfulness to others
- Responsibly advocating for oneself
- Outstanding sportsmanship
- Showing generosity to peers and staff
- Acts of kindness and compassion
- Treating others fairly
- Having the courage to be a "peacemaker"
It is not enough to care and provide educational and counseling services to students who have been through so much. We need to offer a different view of society and human interaction. We need to demonstrate the truth that peace can overcome conflict. We need to create a community where all individuals are treated with equality. That every person is entitled to equality and compassion and kindness are the truest hallmarks of courage.