Service Learning is woven into our curriculum, whether it's first graders making sandwiches for families in transitional housing, third graders conducting a bird census at Lake Merritt, or sixth graders cleaning Lake Merritt in hip waders.
St. Paul's has the advantage in teaching service because we are in the city. Lake Merritt acts as an ideal classroom in which our students learn how to take care of the birds and the water. As students interact with the residents of St. Paul's Towers, they discover the value of connecting with the community.
|Save the Date for a Community Service Event on April 20|
Save the date for a community service event for St. Paul's School families on Saturday, April 20, 2013. Seventeen people have registered already and we have room for 23 more.
You are invited to join Chaplain Luther and the Parent Association to serve food to hungry people at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Berkeley from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. This is an event for the whole family, and all grades K-8! Space is limited to 40 people for this particular event. Register here by Monday 4/15.
As an added bonus, the organizers of the hot meals program will be filming a documentary on hunger that day at the St. Mark's kitchen so your good deed may be caught on film. Sign up now!
|The Harvest is In!|
In the spring, seventh graders tended the St. Paul's garden at Lakeside Park as a Service Learning project and now, in the dog days of summer, the harvest is in. Mammoth zucchinis and healthy sized carrots were plucked from the vine by master gardener Pat Canty, a grandparent of SPES students who oversees and project.
In the spring, the students harvested carrots, beets, chard and asparagus, which were donated to a kitchen that feeds the hungry.
Thanks to the hard-working Mrs. Canty, the garden will be in great shape when students return in the fall. The plot is located in The Gardens at Lakeside Park.
|Lake Treasure Claimed! Loot Picked Up by 6th Graders Returned to Owner|
Oakland police said on Wednesday they have identified the rightful owner of two heavy bags of jewelry found in Lake Merritt by St. Paul's sixth grade lake cleaners on March 29. Told the news, the sixth graders expressed satisfaction that the goods had been returned to the person who lost them.
"I think it's really great that the person who lost the stuff got it back," said Isabel, a member of the sixth grade Group D lake cleaners that found the items.
According to police Investigator Daniel Salcido, the owner is a man who buys and sells estate valuables. The man was walking by the lake on March 29 with many bags of estate items slung over his back. Two of the bags, which weighed a total of about 20 pounds, fell off his shoulder and into the lake, police said. He heard a splash but ignored it.
Later that evening, as he listened to a news report on Channel 7 about the found treasure, he realized that he had misplaced two bags of rings, watches, necklaces, coins, and more, police said. Under questioning, he revealed specific identifying details about the goods that convinced police that they belonged to him. "He is very grateful to the students who found his bags," said Oakland police spokesperson Johnna Watson.
|Seventh Graders Make TV News for Community Gardening! Love that Chard|
Seventh graders planting chard in the St. Paul's community garden made the evening news Tuesday night in a segment entitled "Hidden gardens in downtown Oakland." Local ABC Channel 7 reporter Laura Anthony interviewed the students as they tended the vegetable garden as their Service Learning project.
The three student gardeners — Abigail, Olivia, and Sam — have worked under the guidance of stalwart grandparent volunteer, Pat Canty, master gardener. Some weeks ago, the students donated their first harvest to a kitchen that feeds the hungry.
|Students Find Sunken Treasure in Lake Merritt|
For 15 years, sixth grade Service Learning at St. Paul's has involved a rite-of-passage scientifically known as removing gunk from Lake Merritt, more than 20 tons of gunky debris over the years, in fact. On Thursday, one sixth grader fulfilled the dream of all of the St. Paul's sixth graders who have ever worn hip-waders and carried long-handled nets into that murky water: She found sunken treasure.
At about 2:10 p.m., she spotted what looked like a white canvas bag below the surface of the Lake near the Grand Ave. foot bridge, close to Harrison. "I tried to get it out with a net, but it was too heavy," she said. Sixth grade science teacher Ms. Porter joined her in maneuvering the long-handled net, but they couldn't make whatever it was budge.
Richard Bailey, executive director of the Lake Merritt Institute, which partners with St. Paul's in the Lake cleaning program, slid into his hip-boots, waded into three-feet of water, and carried ashore two canvas bags weighing a total of about 10 pounds. One of the bags bore the name Wells Fargo Bank.
The treasure finder and her Lake cleaning partner each took a bag. "We opened it and started screaming!" said the girl who found the loot. "We saw a bunch of jewelry that was gold and silver."
|Channel 7 Films Students Tending the St. Paul's Vegetable Garden|
Channel 7 reporter Laura Anthony and an ABC cameraman swooped into The Gardens at Lake Merritt on Tuesday afternoon to shoot a television news feature that unveils the beauty of these seven-acres of themed gardens. Captured on film were three St. Paul's seventh graders who tend an 8-by-20 foot St. Paul's vegetable plot as a Service Learning project.
Wielding a microphone, Ms. Anthony summoned seventh grader Abigail, who was planting zucchini seeds. "These gardens are a hidden treasure," said Ms. Anthony. "I never knew they were here. Did you?" Abigail acknowledged that she'd known about the gardens. Ms. Anthony looked disappointed. Abigail added that she hadn't known about the community plots, per se, which is where she and classmates Sam and Olivia tended carrots, beets, asparagus, and more.
What do you like about working in the garden? Ms. Anthony asked. "It's a really important part of the St. Paul's ethic," said Abigail. Ms. Anthony asked the same of Sam, who was sowing carrot seeds. "It's a break from the whole school thing," he said.
Olivia was fully prepared to answer, but the cameraman had moved on. Olivia told us what she would have said. "It feels like I'm having a holiday when I'm here," she said, relishing the sunny but breezy day. But not a carefree sort of holiday, exactly. "I'm always thinking in my mind about what to do with the vegetables - soup kitchen, homeless, hungry," she said.
|Video and Photos of Our Partner School, Ecole St. Pierre in Haiti|
"These children are just like us, just like you, but in totally different circumstances," said Mrs. Merry in Chapel on Friday, when she and Rev. Mauricio Wilson, rector of St. Paul's Church and a St. Paul's School parent, showed video and photos of the students of Ecole St. Pierre, our new partner school in Haiti. Mrs. Merry and Rev. Wilson visited the school and other areas of Haiti in December.
"Ecole St. Pierre is a very small, humble school," said Mrs. Merry. "It's an extraordinary school."
With seven teachers and some 150 students in grades kindergarten through sixth, Ecole St. Pierre is located in the hills two hours from Port au Prince. "We traveled by jeep, Mrs. Merry rode on a burro briefly, and we hiked up the hills to get there," said Rev. Wilson, who noted that Mrs. Merry was just a speck climbing ahead up the mountain as he huffed and puffed.
Look for more information about this partnership to come. "Partnership means building relationships," said Mrs. Merry. "We are with Ecole St. Pierre because they are one of us."
|Get On the Map, Alumni! The St. Paul's Service Map is Launched|
We hear many, many stories about how a St. Paul's education has prompted alumni to give back. Now we're putting these alumni service projects and careers on a global map, posted on the alumni page here: www.spes.org/alumni. We're at the very beginning of filling in the map.
Just last week at the Post Office near Piedmont Ave., we ran into alumni parent Julie Vaccaro, who reported that daughter Blythe Vaccaro, Class of 1996, wants to practice medicine in under-served communities.
"It was a desire for social justice that led me to go into medicine," Blythe told the Philadelphia Inquirer in July 2010. "Blythe's interest in social justice was fostered by Lee Davis (former director of Lower School at St. Paul's)," Mrs. Vaccaro said in fall 2011.
Blythe is in her third year at Jefferson Medical College in a program dedicated to urban, under-served primary care.
|6th Graders To Collaborate with Kids in India on Social Change Technology|
Documentary filmmaker and St. Paul's parent Nicole Newnham introduced St. Paul's sixth graders on Tuesday to their future collaborators, a group of students in India. The introduction was virtual, by way of a 15-minute clip of the Indian students in action in the documentary "The Revolutionary Optimists," co-directed by Ms. Newnham and Maren Grainger-Monsen, a physician and director of the Program in Bioethics in Film at the Stanford University Center for Biomedical Ethics.
St. Paul's students and students in India will be collaborating on beta-testing Map Your World, a web-based tool to upload and organize data and images to promote public-policy change.
"We are thrilled that you are going to be piloting a project," Ms. Newnham told the sixth graders in Ms. Fairless's 8:45 a.m. technology class. "Eventually, there will be kids all over the world doing it."
|Oranges? Apples? Second Graders Market the Food Coop to St. Paul's Towers|
Four second grade marketing mavens headed to St. Paul's Towers on Thursday to drum up customers for the Senior Food Co-op. Using the time-honored sales technique of offering free samples, second graders Barrett, Dezia, Eli, and Tip distributed complimentary oranges and apples and talked up the fine produce sold there. Second graders assist weekly at the co-op in Service Learning.
"We have fruit and vegetables," second grader Tip told a resident sitting in the lobby. "We also have bread," Eli mentioned as he handed out fruit from a large basket. "And sometimes pastries," added Ms. Thiel-Silver, second grade intern teacher, who accompanied the students along with parent Anders Stenstedt. "Not always pastries," noted Barrett.
|Learning to Make a Difference: 7th Graders Work with Kids|
Nine seventh graders arrived at the beautiful Saint Vincent's Day Home on Tuesday afternoon to greet very sleepy young children, who were just waking up from their naps. In each of nine different classrooms, a St. Paul's seventh grader lent a hand. Sean handed out yogurt snacks to five-year-olds, while Ariel, Shane, and Yasmine tied shoelaces for two-. three-, and four-year-olds who were rolling off mats and donning footwear.
"Yasmine came all the way from her school to tie your shoelaces!" said a teacher to her young charges. The students took in this news in good faith and gathered around Yasmine bearing small sneakers and lace-up shoes.
Service Learning at Saint Vincent's has a huge cuteness component, and the connections are sweet. "The kids look forward to the St. Paul's kids coming," said Program Director Jennifer Youngblood at Saint Vincent's, which serves needy families. "Our staff to child ratios are excellent, but having extra hands makes it really special." She noted, "It's a two-way benefit."
|See Another World: It's Highly Recommended|
Service Learning looked like this on Tuesday afternoon at Clausen House, a service center for adults with developmental disabilities.
Three guys are hanging out in the hall by the computer room. Like many regular companions, they have pretty much the same conversation every time they get together, and they have it with great enthusiasm. "I've got three $20's," says Elton, a Clausen House resident. "How much is that?"
"That would be $60," says Nik, a St. Paul's eighth grader.
"How about two $20's and two $10's?" asks Elton, super-excited.
"That would be $60, too," says Luke, a St. Paul's eighth grader.
"How about a $50 and a $10?" asks Elton, still excited.
"$60!" says Nik.
"That's right. $60," says Elton. He pauses for a moment. "How about sixty $1's?"
About 10 feet away, the 2:30 p.m. karaoke party and snack time is about to begin. St. Paul's eighth grader Rafi dishes pasta salad into bowls, while St. Paul's eighth grader Coraima pours red juice into paper cups. Clausen House guests pour in, and a guy comes up and shakes Rafi's hand. "What's your name?" he asks. "Rafi," says Rafi. In the background, a Clausen House guest takes the microphone and performs the Bette Midler classic, "The Rose," a challenging song to cover.
Getting Outside of Ourselves
"Service Learning gives the kids the chance to see another world," says Chaplain Luther, Director of Service Learning at St. Paul's, who escorts these eighth grade students twice a week to Clausen House. "Seeing another world is a good thing. I highly recommend it."
|'They're Just Like Us!' Service Learning at St. Paul's Makes Connections|
Oh, the service they've done. In these first months of school, St. Paul's students have chatted with people with Alzheimer's, talked with homeless families, played balloon volleyball with seniors, read to toddlers, fished tennis balls out of Lake Merritt, packed groceries at the Senior Food Co-op, and made sandwiches for residents of a homeless shelter.
As always, service learning encorporates academics at age-appropriate levels, including writing, reading, science, math, economics, and social policy.
"The Middle School students just wrapped up a very strong service learning quarter," reports Chaplain Carol Luther, who directs the Service Learning program. "They really connected with their sites and their essays were terrific."
|The St. Paul’s Service Learning program has won numerous national awards including a Leading Edge Award from the National Association of Independent Schools, an Excellence in Service Learning Award from Council for Spiritual and Ethical Education, and the Environmental Award for Excellence from the Environmental Protection Agency.|
“We want rigorous academics for our granddaughter and beyond that, we are people who spend a lot of time speaking in the abstract about justice and peace-making. At St. Paul's, Service Learning allows students to see the human faces of those issues.”
— Marilyn Chilcote, grandparent of Coraime ’10
“St. Paul's provides our children with experiences that help them become caring, thoughtful, and well-rounded young people.”
— Julie Kwan, parent of Emma ’11
The Academic Value of Service Learning
|The St. Paul's Approach|
The Mission of St. Paul's has included service to the community as a founding value in 1975, long before community service became in vogue. At a Stanford conference on youth and civic engagement, psychologist James Youniss of The Catholic University of America confirmed the value of the St. Paul’s approach to service learning. He identified three key ingredients of a service learning program that is both academically enriched and meaningful:
• service must be integrated into the academic curriculum
• service must involve direct interaction with the group that is being served
• service must be framed as part of a meaningful tradition of helping others
Service is a St. Paul’s tradition, from our youngest students to our alumni, from second graders helping at the Senior Food Co-op, to third graders conducting the longest running bird census at Lake Merritt, to sixth graders pulling 20 tons of trash from Lake Merritt in the last 12 years, to middle school students who volunteer at Age Song at Lakeside Park and other greater Lake Merritt organizations.
Our Partner Service Organizations