The Circle of Courage is a model of youth empowerment supported by contemporary research, the heritage of early youth work pioneers and Native philosophies of child care. The model is encompassed in four core values: belonging, mastery, independence, and generosity. The central theme of this model is that a set of shared values must exist in any community to create environments that ultimately benefit all.
The Circle of Courage model reflects many of the values we hold important as a community and provide a structure through which we could bring these teachings to the children and parents of our community. Circle of Courage teachings are integrated into the daily curriculum and are used to support our wholistic approach to tracking the progress of each child. It has been a natural process of integrating The Leader in Me Program with the values brought forth through the Circle of Courage.
The programs in the school foster an environment that promotes belonging; each child has their unique gifts to foster and bring forth to offer their community. An environment that promotes courage is one that fosters changes to meet the needs of the young person and society.
The model is represented by a circle – the medicine wheel – that is divided into quadrants. The circle is sacred and suggests the interconnectedness of life. Likewise, it expresses the sacredness of the number four – the four directions, the four elements of the universe, and the four races. Each quadrant of the CIRCLE OF COURAGE stands for a central value – belonging, mastery, independence, and generosity – of an environment that can claim and reclaim all youth. It represents the “cultural birthright for all the world’s children.”
The Circle of Courage is a philosophy that integrates the best of Western educational thought with the wisdom of indigenous cultures and emerging research on positive youth development. The circle suggests the importance of the shared values of belonging, generosity, independence, and mastery. While the four dimensions of the Circle of Courage can be described individually, they must be viewed as one.
Circle of Courage at St. Francis of Assisi School