Guided by Purpose

Inspired by the proposition that education is the means by which we both discover our world and contribute to its transformation, and that one’s education is best pursued in the company of others, for others’ benefit as well as one’s own, Stevenson School has long been committed to a mission described by three central aims:

  • to prepare students for success in School and their lives beyond School;
  • to foster their passion for learning and achievement;
  • to help them shape a joyful life.

In keeping with this mission, Stevenson seeks to:

  • train students in critical academic, intellectual, social, and emotional skills;
  • help students to develop honor and integrity;
  • teach students to engage productively and peacefully with others;
  • nurture students’ ambitions and healthy pursuit of excellence;
  • balance convention and innovation such that Stevenson remains true to enduring values and relevant to the emerging needs of the present generation of students.

We therefore expect all members of our community to be:

  • devoted to our tenets of scholarship and citizenship;
  • honest, honorable, and empathetic;
  • able to examine and be responsible for their beliefs and behavior, respectful of the consequences that may attend both;
  • willing to risk failure in the pursuit of wisdom;
  • committed to embodying and sustaining our community’s core values of safety, trust, respect, belonging, and inclusion.

Almost seven decades after its founding, the School’s central project remains remarkably consistent with the aspirations that inspired its founding. Our core values, student handbooks, honor code, motto, song, and prayer all serve as guideposts in this regard.

Our core values include safety, respect, trust, belonging, and inclusion. In practicing these values in all of our dealings, whether observed or unseen, we seek to create an environment that is truly conducive to everyone’s personal and academic growth. 

Because we believe that people perform and relate to one another best in such an environment, our student handbooks for the lower and middle and upper divisions promote and protect the standards required for our students to thrive and for the School to succeed in its mission. They are framed by our values and emanate from a place of purposeful care for and commitment to our students’ development as people.

Our honor code reads as follows:

We assert a personal code of honor that compels honesty with ourselves and in our dealings with others, courage in accepting responsibility for our decisions and actions, and commitment to seeking fulfillment in our best work.

The School’s Latin motto, Suaviter in modo, fortiter in re (“Gentle in manner, resolute in deed”) emphasizes humility and perseverance. 

The song, a frequent feature of assemblies and other gatherings on the Carmel campus, is taken from a lyric written by our namesake, the 19th century Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson, and arranged by Chris West, who served as the lower and middle divisions’ music teacher for many years.

We thank Thee for this place in which we dwell;
For the love that unites us;
For the peace accorded us this day;
For the hope with which we expect the morrow;
For the health, the work, the food, and the bright skies,
That make our lives delightful;
And for our friends in all parts of the earth.

The prayer is also adapted from the writings of Robert Louis Stevenson. Stevenson, who spent a brief portion of his life here in 1879, arrived as a sickly expatriate on the most desperate of romantic quests, pursuing Fanny Osborne, who he would later marry. He was nursed back to health by a goat rancher in Carmel Valley and a restaurateur in Monterey who took him in as a stranger and extended to him every possible kindness. It is fitting that this story sits as the kernel of our School’s inception, because this is what we do: welcome strangers on quests, help them get better, and deliver them on to meet their destiny. And, regardless of our religious beliefs or skepticism (Stevenson is non-denominational), our prayer is meant to invoke the spirit of reverence that connects all Pirates to the School and to one another.

Oh, Lord, give us the strength to encounter that which is to come,
That we may be brave in peril, constant in tribulation, temperate in wrath,
And in all change of fortune and down to the gates of death,
Loyal and loving to one another.

At the beginning of each year upper and middle division advisory groups and lower division classes spend time discussing and understanding the School’s honor code, motto, song, prayer, and the standards of conduct described in each handbook. Students are invited to ask questions and reflect on how the School’s values align with their own values. After doing so, each student is expected to affirm that they have read and understand the School’s expectations for their behavior. Our community regularly reflects on the implications of these principles throughout the year.