Building Cultures of Integrity and Honor in Boys' Schools

Landon School, Bethesda, Maryland
2o-21 November 2008

This IBSC conference focuses on the goals and strategies in making and renewing boys' schools as places where boys practice and learn the core values of honesty, integrity and respect. We all recognize that this work is central to our mission as schools for boys, and an important measure of our achievement.

The conference will be of special interest to assistant or deputy heads, deans of students, and others charged with responsibilities for this realm of school life. It is aimed at both the senior and middle school levels. Schools might consider sending a number of staff to the conference, to optimize transfer of this learning.

On Thursday evening, November 20, two speakers will inspire us and set the stage for Friday's intensive program of workshops, led by experienced educators in IBSC schools.

While workshops will address codes of conduct, honor codes, and honor/discipline councils or committees, these will be put in the context of wider and holistic objectives for character education, leadership training, and the moral culture of our schools. Throughout, the emphasis will be boys' social-emotional development and on their engagement with the work of building communities of integrity and honor.

The conference will be relevant to schools with well-established policies and practices, to those grappling with the renewal of current policies and practices, and to those that may be looking for new perspectives and innovative approaches.

We hope that this conference will lead to a sustaining network of educators who share the mission of building integrity and honor in boys' schools .


  • Ken Ruscio, President, Washington and Lee University

    Our keynote speaker at the opening dinner on Thursday, November 20 is Ken Ruscio, President of Washington and Lee University. The topic of his address is Integrity and Leadership in our Schools and Colleges .

    Kenneth P. Ruscio was elected the 26th president of Washington and Lee University in 2006. A distinguished scholar in the study of democratic theory and public policy, Dr. Ruscio served as the Dean of the Jepson School of Leadership Studies at University of Richmond for four years before assuming his present position. Prior to his tenure at the University of Richmond, he held various positions at Washington and Lee, including Professor of Politics, Associate Dean of The Williams School of Commerce, Economics and Politics, and Dean of Freshmen. He was a postdoctoral research scholar at the University of California, Los Angeles from 1983 to 1985, and taught at both Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Kansas University. Dr. Ruscio earned his B.A. in politics from Washington and Lee University in 1976 and earned an M.P.A. and Ph.D. from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs in 1978 and 1983, respectively. Professor Ruscio has authored numerous articles and essays and the book, The Leadership Dilemma in Modern Democracy (Edward Elgar Publishing, Inc. 2004). He recently completed his second term as national president of Omicron Delta Kappa, a national leadership society begun at Washington and Lee in 1914 that now has chapters at over 300 campuses.
  • Rob Hershey, Headmaster, Episcopal School, Virginia

    At our opening session on Thursday, November 20, Rob Hershey will lift us to the larger vision of Establishing and Nurturing a Culture of Integrity in Boys' Schools: a Holistic Perspective.

    Rob began his independent school career as a history and economics teacher and varsity basketball coach at Woodberry Forest School, where he also served as director of student life, director of admissions, assistant headmaster, and associate headmaster. In 1978, Rob was appointed headmaster of Durham Academy in Durham, N.C. In 1988, he accepted the headmaster/president position at Collegiate School in Richmond, Va., and in 1998, he came to Episcopal High School. Rob presently serves as vice-chair of the board of The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS) and as president of the Virginia Association of Independent Schools (VAIS). He formerly served on the board of the Association of Independent Schools of Greater Washington (AISGW), the Secondary School Admission Test Board (SSATB), the Virginia Secondary Commission of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and the North Carolina Association of Independent Schools.

Conference Location

All conference events on Thursday and Friday are held at Landon School, 6101 Wilson Lane, Bethesda, MD. Click here for directions to the school, to access a campus map and to view Landon School's website.

Registration Fee

The registration fee is $275.00 USD for IBSC members, and $400.00 for non-IBSC members. To register, click here .

Refund Policy

50% of the registration fee will be refunded upon written notification by October 30, 2008.

Hotel Accommodation

The conference hotel is the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel, located at 5701 Marinelli Road, Bethesda, Maryland, 20852; telephone 301 822 9200.


The conference will provide bus transportation between the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Landon School on Thursday evening, November 20 and on Friday, November 21.

Conference Schedule

Thursday, November 20
4:30 p.m. Bus leaves Bethesda North Marriott Hotel for Landon School
5:00 p.m.

6:15 p.m. Welcome and Introductions
Opening Presentation by Rob Hershey, Head, Episcopal School, Virginia
Building Integrity in Boys' Schools: A Holistic Perspective
6:30 p.m.

9:00 p.m. Opening Reception and Dinner
Keynote Address by Kenneth Ruscio, President of Washington and Lee University
Integrity and Leadership in our Schools and Colleges
9:00 p.m. Bus departs for hotel
Friday, November 21
8:00 a.m.

Bus leaves hotel for Landon School

8:15 a.m.

9:00 a.m. Light breakfast at Landon School
9:00 a.m.

10:00 a.m.

Workshop Session A

"Living in the Truth of Boys' Lives": A Counselor's Perspective on Building Authentic integrity
Frank Rojas, School Counselor, Collegiate School, New York City

Frank Rojas brings into sharp focus the importance of understanding boys' inner lives and of engaging them in open, honest and safe discussion about values, beliefs and behavior, as a foundation for unearthing and framing authentic integrity. Frank will challenge participants to see their work with codes of conduct, honor codes and institutional "integrity-building" from the boys' perspective. Showcased in this presentation is the Collegiate School Peer Leadership Program.

10:15 a.m.

11:15 a.m.

Workshop Session B

"Walk the Talk": Deepening and Expanding a Culture of Integrity in Boys' Schools
Charley Stillwell, Headmaster, St. Christopher's School, Virginia
Anthony Sgro, Assistant Headmaster and Dean of Students, Woodberry Forest School, Virginia

Leaders in two boys' schools, one residential (Grades 9-12) and the other day (Grades JK-12), and both with long-standing and high-functioning programs with honor codes and character standards, reflect on the continual growth and deepening of the work of nurturing "boys of integrity". They will highlight initiatives that help to center character education in the mission of their schools. Both strive to build a culture of trust and support across the range of school constituencies. In distilling some of the ingredients of successful programming, the workshop presenters will frame questions that engage participants in an evaluation and assessment of their own programs, and in a discussion of common challenges.

11:30 a.m.

12:30 p.m.

Workshop Session C

"Craving Simplicity": The Moral Compass of Boys' Schools
Ned Williams, Headmaster, Mater Dei School, Maryland
Rick Kirschner, Assistant to the Headmaster for Student Life, Banfield Chair of Ethics, Landon School, Maryland

Using examples and lessons from their experience in a religious boys' school (Grades 1-8) and a non- sectarian school (Grades 3-12), the presenters discuss the work of building foundational standards, programs and practices aimed especially at middle school boys and the parent community. Ned Williams will explain how his elementary boys' school seeks to transcend what we might call the "Nordstrom phenomenon" - bending over backwards to accommodate demands - by asserting and articulating the school's moral compass and purpose. Rick Kirschner summarizes the process that has generated Landon's new Code of Character, as a focus for renewing and strengthening the ethos and "integrity practices" of the school. The presenters will, in particular, explore the advantages and power of "starting young" in the elementary, middle and early senior school years. As well, they will also pose and explore a provocative question: "why do we often stop at evaluating character in upper or senior schools?"

12:30 p.m.

1:30 p.m.


1:30 p.m.

2:30 p.m.

Workshop Session D

"Stormy Weather": Navigating Parent Expectations and College Admission Issues in Honor and Disciplinary Practices
Ned Harris, Academic Dean, Gilman School, Baltimore, Maryland
Tony Szymendera, Upper School Head, St. Christopher's School, Virginia
Jamie Kirkpatrick, Director of College Counseling, Landon School, Maryland

In this workshop, presenters raise and frame the challenging issues of aligning, among other things, disciplinary procedures and college reporting protocols with the objectives of "integrity-centered" boys' schools. Most people strongly endorse honor codes and high conduct standards until they find themselves or their sons dealing with the ramifications of a violation. While striving to be principled and strong in decision-making, schools must also consider pragmatic issues: do we treat a serous violation as a "family matter" or as reportable to colleges? How can the way we manage a "crisis" be both transformational and positive for the boy and an affirmation of community standards? Finding that delicate balance among such competing issues poses many challenges and dilemmas - and these are explored by our panel of presenters.

2:45 p.m.

3:45 p.m.

Workshop Session E and Conference Wrap-Up

"The Courage to be a Lightning Rod": Leading Integrity in Boys' Schools

In this summative session, the day's workshop presenters will lead participants through a reflective process to "harvest the learning" of the conference, and to help them affirm the good things happening in their schools, identify core challenges, and set forth with a handful of ideas and strategies to bring back to their schools. This session concludes with an exploration of an action plan for the next steps in building a sustainable network of educators committed to being lightning rods for building boys of integrity.

4:00 p.m.

Bus leaves for hotel

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