From the Headmaster

Spirituality in Education

Alfred F. Dugan III

In the past couple of years, I have spent a great deal of time communicating with parents in response to tragedy. Amidst the world we are currently living in, I believe that proactively raising spiritual children is the most meaningful response of all. Children need to know that there is a beautiful and transcendent purpose to this life and beyond.

My time with the Collaborative for Spirituality in Education last week was inspiring and affirming. Princeton Academy is proud to be a part of the CSE, in partnership with Dr. Lisa Miller (author of The Spiritual Child) of Columbia University, Teachers College and Founder of the Spirituality Mind Body Institute, the first Ivy League graduate program in spirituality and psychology.

Recognizing the paramount importance of nurturing spirituality in today's children, our focus with the CSE is on developing spiritually supportive schools. Through research and analysis (the CSE team spent time on our campus last spring, in addition to visiting other schools in the Collaborative), CSE has determined that all spiritually supportive schools share a core set of characteristics:


When the CSE promotes spirituality in education, it envisions the creation of caring, inspiring and safe school communities where:

1. Respect and love | Young people feel respected, supported, and loved;
2. Meaning and purpose | They develop a deep sense of self-worth, belonging, meaning and purpose;
3. Wonder | Their sense of wonder and a reverence for the mystery of being is nurtured;
4. Inner life and self-care | They learn to care for their heart -- their deep inner being -- as well as their body and mind;
5. Moral development | They learn the meaning of freedom, self-discipline, and moral responsibility;
6. Caring relationships | Their capacity to form and sustain caring relationships is cultivated;
7. Democratic ideals and social justice | They study and put into practice American democratic ideals and principles of social justice;
8. Compassion and service | They honor generosity of spirit, compassion, and service to the community;
9. Connection to nature | They respect and care for the greater community of life;
10. Joy/whole being | They experience the joy that the blooming of one's whole being can bring.

Ultimately, we must ask ourselves "what do we really want for our boys?"; "what are our hopes for them now and in the future?"; "what matters most?". At last week's Princeton Common Ground Lecture Series, Charles Vogl (author of The Art of Community) stated that today's generation is the loneliest generation on record. Ironically, with increased "likes" and "friends" numbering in the thousands on social media, we are seeing evidence of hollowness in humanity at extraordinary levels. Nurturing the spirit by nourishing the whole child in body, mind and heart will create substance in identity and thus allow our children to thrive as their best selves - whole, not hollow.

At Princeton Academy, we seek to foster the health, wellness and spiritual development of our students in their foundational, formative, K-8 years. We invite you to form a spiritual connection with our community in a way that allows you to express your spirituality as you define it. We all experience spirituality in a multitude of ways. What I hope we have in common is that we all feel at home at Princeton Academy. All are welcome and you belong. Central to our mission, Princeton Academy will always strive to be a spiritually supportive school.

  • belonging
  • community
  • education
  • parenting
  • spirituality

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