The Community Service Program reflects our community’s belief that education is a rich, subtle exploration and questioning of the world, not a means to an end. The program provides optional opportunities for students – and all members of the Saint Ann’s community – to encounter and examine the needs and complexities, both local and global, of our ever-changing world and to respond creatively with their intellects, time, talents, and skills.
History and Overview
The formal Community Service Program and Community Service Seminar were initiated in 2004 and have grown organically since then. The multi-faceted program has expanded to include various spin-offs: including the Justice Project, a Green Team, an annual clothing swap, annual bake sales to benefit a select number of non-profits chosen by our students, a rooftop garden, a Secret Garden, a magazine called Dirt, and much more. Most projects are student-driven and include opportunities for engagement by individuals or large groups. Students often come to the coordinator seeking a volunteer opportunity for a semester, year, or summer and are given advice and assistance in the application process.
Where a curricular connection may exist, the program engages a growing number of students and faculty with hands on (and minds on!) service-learning experiences. Our students have an implicit understanding of the impact of their actions and usually share their insights organically, before, during and after an event. They also write periodic articles about community service for the school newspaper The Ram. As we move forward we want to be more intentional about engaging the students in a dialogue about the impact their service has on others and the impact it has on them as artists, poets, mathematicians, writers, scientists, and musicians. We are creating a space on the webpage for the students to describe their acts of service, exhibit photos, incorporate videos of the projects and fieldwork they do. These exhibits will offer a glimpse of the opportunities available to students and a forum for discussion of the pressing issues that need attention, such as hunger/nutrition, income disparity, homelessness, education, autism, the elderly, refugees, and environmental issues.
This website encourages our students to confront and play an active role in service – from discussing and engaging critically in issues of service, to reaping the revelations and joys that come with fieldwork. Sustaining our program is a unique commitment to changing our world, central to both faculty and students alike – a fervent desire to make a positive impact and a difference.
Here are some of the goals for the 2015-16 academic year:
- Make stronger connections between community service opportunities and the curriculum when appropriate.
- Create a framework for reflection by community service participants.
- Expand the number of long-term, substantive service opportunities that allow students to develop deeper connections with the project or organization and to realize the impact of the service they provide.
- Increase student awareness of service opportunities.
- Engage division heads and department heads in a conversation about the meaning of service in the community and curriculum when appropriate.
- Explore the possibility for a community service theme for the year that all departments or divisions can engage at some point throughout the year if they so choose.
- Create a presence on the Saint Ann’s website that outlines the program and ways in which students and faculty can engage.
- Expand the number of faculty volunteers through increased communication regarding ways in which they can engage our students with service opportunities or that they can volunteer as leaders of service projects.
- Continue to raise student awareness of problems and issues in our world in an effort to help them discover meaningful and palpable solutions which can help individuals, groups, nations, and all aspects of our natural habitat.
- Host speakers from non-profit organizations and host documentary film series to raise awareness of critical issues.
- Engage Kindergarten students in a communal garden initiative and other possible community-related activities such as performing for the local senior center.
- Make full use of technology in order to raise awareness and foster student awareness and involvement in community service opportunities
- Establish year-long, concentrated relationships with three organizations, including Brooklyn Youth Sports Club, among others
- Brooklyn Autism Center
- PS 8 Volunteer Program
- Comm Serv Seminar
- Environmentalism and Sustainability Seminars
- LS rooftop garden
- Dirt magazine
- Children’s Law Center
- Brooklyn Community Housing and Services
- Lutheran Social Services: welcoming refugees, pen pal program, providing translation, English tutoring and support services
- Brooklyn Youth Sports Club Tutoring
- Family Justice Center at the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence
- Working with Linked/Help USA
- Heights and Hills (Supporting Brooklyn’s Older Adults)
- Decorating and Friendly visits at the Jubilee Center
- Clothing Swap
- Project Cicero
- Bake Sales
- Natural disaster response
- Making meals at shelters
- Individual student initiatives
- Field trips
- Food drives
- Music Department student performances at Jubilee Senior Center
- Preschool and Lower School projects initiated by classroom teachers
- Toy Drive for Columbia University Early Head Start Program
- Book Drive for the Amor Village Library in Tororo, Uganda (April 22 – 23)
- Cell phone drive (for DV Unit at Family Justice Center)
- Brooklyn Kindergarten Society