Service Learning Embedded in Montgomery’s Curriculum
From Hurricane Sandy to the Thanksgiving Food Drive to serving food to the elderly, Montgomery School is committed to service to others.
Three years ago, Montgomery began to implement its new 2009 Strategic Plan. Under the goals of Community and Citizenship the plan specifies:
“In keeping with our mission of providing a character-based education, we will be a community that models good citizenship and service to others. We will more closely integrate community service with our educational program inside and outside the classroom, and we will engage our students and institution more deeply with the larger community.”2009 STRATEGIC PLAN
Community Service, at Montgomery School, is not only encouraged but is considered essential to a complete education. Service to others is a part of the Montgomery School mission, which states, “The School is equally committed to the development of each child's character, with an emphasis on integrity, respect, responsibility, and service to others.” Students in each grade are given opportunities to help others, and to learn valuable lessons by sharing with those in need. Community Service develops compassion, one of the three words found in the Montgomery School motto: Veritas, Pietas, Caritas (Truth, Loyalty, Compassion). Whether students are supporting a Thanksgiving food drive, actively serving meals to people in need, or raising funds for research for autism, cancer, or childhood diabetes, the message is that it is our duty to help others.
The faculty spent time during the 2009-2010 School year exploring and articulating the difference between community service and service learning. By connecting service to the curriculum, students become more deeply involved because they have a clear connection to their learning. Each year teachers are given the task of having a service learning project in each grade level.
Two service learning highlights from the 2011 - 2012 school year were from the fifth and eighth grades. Each year, fifth graders study the Civil War which is why Mrs. Batson and Mrs. Kelly felt that outreach to the military would be a good match for the 5th grade project. The students completed chores at home to earn money that would be used to purchase much needed supplies for our veterans at the Coatesville facility. Mrs. Kelly’s class collected packages of new athletic socks, as her students focused on learning more about the clothing of Civil War soldiers. Mrs. Batson’s class collected cans of coffee and cookies, as they focused on the diet of Civil War soldiers. The students included personally written letters with their donations that expressed their sentiments of appreciation. The items were then delivered to the Coatesville VA Medical Center. For more information about Coatesville VA Medical Center visit their website at http://www.coatesville.va.gov/giving/index.asp.
The fifth grade class felt pride in their efforts. Our students were able to make the lives of veterans more comfortable as a result of their generous donations, and their families gained appreciation for their children’s efforts in this “hands-on” service learning project. On the day the students delivered the donations, they were greeted by a Vietnam Veteran which made this project even more meaningful.
Eighth grade students take part in a special journey that spans their 8th grade year and has become a tradition here at Montgomery...the Make A Difference Projects. Each student selects an organization or person for this year long project that has made a positive difference in the world. This project involves research, writing, reflection and presentation skills leading up to the presentation of their projects in an EXPO-like setting. The Montgomery community is invited to visit with the students and learn about the selected individuals and organizations. The ultimate goal is for each student to realize that they really can make a difference in our world.