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Service Learning at GSL

Posted on December 4th, 2015

One of the major initiatives underway this school year is the introduction of a school-wide, service learning curriculum. We are very excited about this program and believe it has the potential to help shape our students for lives of service as they mature into adulthood. This is a program that has been in the works for some time; we’ve had a faculty committee investigating best practices from a range of schools as well as examining what we’ve done here at GSL.

Service learning is a term worth taking a few minutes to understand. It is commonly used interchangeably with community service, but there are a few key elements that distinguish the two terms. While they may, at first glance, look the same, community service is doing something worthwhile for the community. It can take a variety of forms from performing a service with no fee to volunteering at a charitable organization. Service learning, however, aims to take this a step further and focus not only on providing a service but also creating a depth of learning around a particular issue or topic. In that regard, service learning means not only performing a service but also taking the time to reflect on the larger issues. It involves building relationships and thinking deeply and critically about the broader issues you’ve been exposed to as a result of your service.

Recently, at our monthly general faculty meeting, we took the time to reflect on our progress so far in implementing this program. It was, for me, an inspirational faculty meeting. Each grade had a chance to report on the various initiatives it had begun or had in the works. As teacher after teacher spoke, I was humbled and impressed by their passion for service learning and their work with our children. To give but a small sample of what I heard that day:

  • 5th grade’s learning about food insecurity by visiting the Mid-South Food Bank, running the school’s canned food drive, and connecting with GSL church’s food pantry to see how donations are used.
  • 3rd grade’s preparation for taking Christmas Around the World on tour to local nursing homes to brighten residents’ holidays while learning about caring for the elderly.
  • Even our Little Lukers are learning about Environmental Stewardship by building bird feeders and bird houses and placing them around campus for birds to use and enjoy.

I could go on, but it was exciting to hear the creativity and passion across the grade levels for service learning. It is our first year, and I am sure we will learn much along the way, but it is exciting to see this program begin. As an Episcopal school, it is important for us to cultivate in each of our students the notion that they can be of service to the world around them, regardless of their chosen path, and this is a grand beginning.

Sincerely,

Thor Kvande
Head of School

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