5th Grade

Ethical Leadership

Sometimes moral questions are simple.  Sometimes they’re not.  Moses Brown uses Quaker values as a guide to keep the easy questions clear, and as a way to find one’s way when things get murky.  Put simply, Quakers believe that every person has a divine Inner Light, and that no one has a unique claim on the Truth.  As such, everyone deserves love and respect, and bears responsibility for making the kind of community we all want to live in.

The Quaker custom of addressing adults by their first names helps students understand that, even at  eight or nine years old, they deserve respect just like a grown-up, and also share the same duty to be respectful.

As fifth graders are the leaders of the lower school, much of their curriculum centers around issues of leadership, the dynamics of political power, and questions of social justice.  Whether studying child labor or the civil rights movement, these almost-middle-schoolers are asked to consider, and take responsibility for, their role as ethical leaders in our community.

In addition to studying the Quaker testimonies (simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, and stewardship sometimes known as the SPICES), third, fourth, and fifth graders have the opportunity to participate in SPARK (Students for Peace Acting with Responsibility and Kindness). This weekly lunch meeting convenes to plan, organize, and complete service projects, plan programmed meetings for worship, while getting to know students from other grades.  In the past, SPARK has run a teddy bear drive for Brown University Medical Student clinics for underserved children, led an effort to recycle Crayola markers into Biofuel, and collected food, toys, and bedding for shelter pets.


Students helping a teacher teach

Students help teachers teach climate change

“We want to help stop climate change… it’s a big thing for us.” Eight 5th graders have helped their science teacher develop a way to assist other teachers in utilizing project-based learning to demonstrate the impacts of climate change, and how to combat it.


Chad Putka

Lower School Music, Ethical Leadership Tri-Clerk

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Chad Putka

Oberlin College – B.A.
Boston University – M.M.

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