Heads Up: Service Learning and the Impact on Student Development
Welcome to the first edition of the 2019-2020 Heads Up! My plan this year is to use this communication to provide a window into the special moments that I have the privilege to witness at St. Thomas’s Day School. As the school year kicks into high gear, I want to highlight our dynamic service learning program and its positive impact on student learning and development.
Character-based education is woven through all aspects of our curriculum in authentic and meaningful ways. Our daily lessons, classroom activities and service learning opportunities are intentional and aligned with our mission. We know that students who engage in a range of service learning experiences during their formative years show increased empathy, cognitive complexity and greater acceptance and awareness of cultural differences. We also know that as children help others, they develop generosity and moral character.
One of the most powerful and impactful experiences that our students have here at St. Thomas’s is the Annual Fall Penny Harvest. The Penny Harvest is the cornerstone of our school-wide service learning initiative. It empowers our children to become engaged citizens by giving them the knowledge and tools to make a difference in their community.
The idea is simple. Children convert natural compassion for others into action by collecting pennies and turning those pennies into donations for community organizations. Over the past seven years, our entire student body, led by the sixth grade students, have researched and identified local charities in need. They have collected hundreds of dollars in support of these charities, which have included The McGivney Center, IRIS, YSY and The Diaper Bank. Sixth Grade Teacher Chaundra Vasseur describes the Penny Harvest as “a project that provides students with the opportunity to give back to a local community while teaching them persuasive presentation skills as they seek to convey their mission to a variety of age groups.”
Year after year, we watch our students come together as they deepen their understanding of leadership, teamwork, inclusivity and compassion. It’s truly a mission moment in action at St. Thomas’s Day School!
This year’s Penny Harvest will take place from October 28 through November 15. We are eager to witness the impact this project will have on our students as they gain increased knowledge of academic concepts, their communities, and themselves. Please join me in wishing our students a Bountiful Harvest!