Strengths in Education
About Us

​​Our Mission 

Our mission is to continue to build an inclusive Catholic learning community committed to the celebration of each individual's fundamental human dignity. Central to our mission is a unique strength-based approach to education which nurtures healthy relationships and builds supportive and collaborative learning environments. Through positive learning experiences, we will foster student engagement and cultivate hope for each student's future.
Our History 
The video to the right gives an overview and brief history of our project. The contents of this site provide a growing collection of anecdotal and instructional information for any school or teacher that is interested in getting started with strength-based learning.
A student-created video about the history of Strength in Education Project...

​What is a Strength-Based Approach?
What is a strength-based approach?
A strength-based approach is a manner of doing things rooted in the belief:
• that people (and groups of people i.e. organizations, neighbourhoods, communities) have existing competencies;
• that people have resources and are capable of learning new skills and solving problems;
• that people can use existing competencies to identify and address their own concerns; and
• that people can be involved in the process of discovery and learning.

A strength-based approach is a perspective more than a set of hard and fast rules. It strives to leads with the positive and values trust, respect, intentionality and optimism. 

Using a strength-based approach does not mean:
• you should never say no
• you fabricate strengths
• you should be overly complimentary or insincere
• you can’t talk about needs, gaps and concerns

Rather, it is based on the idea that people and environments interact and change each other in the process. Each has the ability to build the other’s capacity.

Download the document below for more information about a Strengths-Based Approach by the Alliance for Children and Youth of Waterloo Region:
Download File


Why Apply This Approach to Education?

There is no doubt school plays a critical role in child and youth development throughout the lifespan. Martin Seligman (2002) believed optimal development occurs when institutions, traits (character strengths), and subjective experiences are in alignment. Positive institutions foster development of positive traits, which in turn can lead to positive subjective experiences. Character education in the classroom can take many forms. Identifying students’ strengths by taking the VIA survey is a great place to start.

Before aiding students in the discovery of their strengths, educators should first discover their own strengths and learn to apply them in and out of the classroom. As students discover their strengths, they gain a better understanding of their own emotional states. Sharing this new information with peers can also encourage students to think of people in terms of their strengths. A principal belief of positive psychology suggests capitalizing on an individual’s strengths will likely to lead to more positive outcomes than would focusing on their weaknesses.  Therefore when providing feedback to a student, highlighting what was done well and why may be more beneficial than focusing on what was done poorly. When educators are mindful of students’ strengths they can help students feel empowered, while strengthening the mentoring relationship between student and educator (Lopez & Louis, 2009). Educators therefore have the responsibility of bringing students’ strengths to the forefront, cultivating a greater understanding, and encouraging use in school and other aspects of daily life. Educators play a vital role in helping their students to discover their potential, and implementing learning experiences that can help students realize this potential (Lopez & Louis, 2009). Research provides evidence of the positive outcomes that can be predicted by identifying and cultivating the character strengths of students. It was found that self-control was a more reliable predictor of academic success than IQ (Duckworth & Seligman, 2006). Also, a study identified five character strengths (perseverance, love, gratitude, hope, and perspective ) that predicted high grade point averages (Peterson & Park, 2009).

Duckworth, A. L., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2006). Self-discipline outdoes IQ in predicting academic performance of adolescents. Psychological Science, 16, 939–944

Lopez, S. J., Louis, M. C. (2009). The Principles of Strengths-Based Education. Journal of College and Character. 10(4), 1-8. doi: 10.2202/1940-1639.1041

Peterson, C., & Park, N. (2009). Classifying and measuring strengths of character. Oxford handbook of positive psychology. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Character Strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification. New York: Oxford Press and Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Seligman, M. E. P. 2002. Authentic happiness. New York: Free Press.​