When the bell rings, August races to his English class and sits down in the back. He doesn't look up as groups of kids come in, but he does notice that Jack sits next to him again. The teacher introduces himself as Mr. Browne and begins going over the syllabus. Then, he writes the word "PRECEPT" on the board and leads the class in a discussion of what a precept is. He defines it as any saying that helps guide a person when making important decisions. Mr. Browne asks the class for some things that are important to them and writes down things like family, the environment, and homework.
By introducing the idea of precepts to his class, Mr. Browne introduces his students to things that can guide them through life other than their parents. Essentially, the precepts are intended to fill in for adult presences to encourage students to make good, grown-up decisions. When August appears to still feel alone in this class, it shows that he'll have to be willing to trust classmates like Jack before he'll be able to truly find a sense of belonging and independence at school.
After a few minutes, Mr. Browne writes that the most important thing for the students to learn is who they are. He asks the students to create a section in their notebooks for precepts and to write down his precept for September: to "choose kind" when given the choice between being kind or right. As August writes the precept in his notebook, he realizes that he's going to like school.
The September precept and Mr. Browne's assertion that students need to learn who they are suggests that he's going to be a major motivating force in his students' coming of age. August's affinity for Mr. Browne's class at this point is likely related to the precept's command to “choose kind,” something that will directly help August.