Pathways to Thrive (Character Education) 


What is Pathways to Thrive?

Pathways to Thrive is a strength-based, relationship approach developed by the RCDSB Character Development Team. The framework is an intentional approach to support the development of the foundational building blocks for character and resiliency.  The image represents a metaphor based on an Indigenous creation story, Turtle Island.

It tells of all living creatures working together to create the Earth on the back of a turtle at the time when Sky Woman fell.  The tree aligns the District's values with ten internal and external protective factors that are identified as crucial to student achievement and well being. 

What is the research-based evidence?

In 2014, the Character Development Team explored and integrated the work of Dr. Wayne Hammond at Onboard Education and his resiliency initiatives to create Pathways to Thrive. RCDSB pilot schools were designated in March 2016 to explore the RADs survey (Resiliency Assessing Developmental Strengths) with grades 5-12.  Student and school profile analyses were provided along with guiding questions and intervention strategies. Findings indicated effective strategies to build school culture and support vulnerable students.

What is the rationale of Pathways to Thrive?

As we learn more about the importance of building relationships with our students, we learn the value of integration of achievement and well being. As a board,  we need to continue to focus on building the positive relationships within our school communities, between students and teachers, parents and teachers, and all staff members.  

The framework incorporates overall Ministry of Education directives and aligns with Tier One Mental Health Promotion “Lead with CARE” and Wellbeing Strategies.  Pathways to Thrive honours the historical thinking and evolution of the Character Development Team from character virtues to an action-oriented, inclusive focus on resiliency.  It allows for multiple entry points and pathways for students to thrive.

How is this incorporated into my child's school?

This is a new lens through which to view student success and school culture. Building relationships and promoting protective factors will lead to an increase in student engagement, resiliency, character development and ultimately, student achievement and well-being.

What role do teachers play in this framework?

Educators have many options to embed components of the framework in the curriculum (language lessons, ethics, health, mental health, social studies inquiries, etc).  Focus on the framework elements through extracurricular groups, social justice clubs, sports or New Pedagogies for Deeper Learning (NPDL), provides further opportunities to develop protective factors.

RCDSB Values 


We respect ourselves and treat others with courtesy, fairness, dignity, and positive regard. We treat others as we wish to be treated. We interact with others without stereotyping, prejudice or discrimination. We honour the rights of others and value our differences. We respect others' belongings, the environment and the world around us. We are respectful of the rules wherever we are.


We are accountable for all our actions.  We exercise self-discipline and self-control in every situation. We work cooperatively with others. We are gracious when things do not go our way. We follow through on our commitments. We complete all tasks and assignments to the best of our ability.


We do not give up when things are difficult. We are patient, purposeful and goal oriented.


We act without being prompted by others. We are eager to do what needs to be done without having to be told to do it. We take the first step towards the achievement of a goal.


We have empathy and compassion for others. With both our words and actions, we show that we care about the feelings and needs of others. We practice kindness and generosity.


We always tell the truth, keep our word, and do what we say we will do. We have integrity.


We face challenges directly. We seek help from others when necessary. We do the right thing even when it may be unpopular. We are able to recognize risks and danger and do not take unwise risks to gain the approval of those around us.


We maintain a positive attitude and always keep hope alive. We look on the brighter side of situations, and see opportunities when faced with challenges.

We model

Modeling is a very important tool to teach or inspire others to be people of character. Modeling works best when there is total consistency in what is being modelled. It is important that all staff at all levels of the organization be always mindful of the modelling they are doing. A concerted effort by all staff, parents, trustees and student leaders to model the virtues each day will significantly advance the goal of character development in the district. Our actions speak louder than words!

We create welcoming physical places

The way we keep our buildings and learning places also speak volumes about what we value. The physical space can communicate coldness, neglect or caring and warmth. Keeping our bulletin boards neat and colourful and keeping the garbage off the floors makes the environment inviting and communicates caring, responsibility and respect.  If we want people to know what virtues we value, we need to have our virtues on display so folks can see what we are about as soon as they enter our foyers! School web pages and exterior signs are also places where we can draw attention to our character emphasis!

We create positive climates 

Every school or workplace has a climate and tone. Researchers have found that school climate is a major factor in the amount of bullying that occurs in a school. Capacity and practice with the virtues will result in a more positive climate in the school or workplace. The modelling and physical spaces will help or hinder having a positive climate. School policies, programs, quality resources, extra-curricular programs, civic and community engagement, parent involvement and parent, student and staff champions can all be instrumental in helping create a positive climate.


Some examples of quality resources for parents/guardians include:  

  • Novels
  • Specific programs like Kelso's Choice, Tribes, Respect, Character Abound, Character Counts, Play it Forward, Second Steps, and Peace Makers
  • Videos
  • Websites
  • Subject specific lessons