The value of helping others, both within our school and in the world beyond, permeates the Green Acres community. Service is integrated into the curriculum as much as possible. An important component of service learning is reflection. At the end of each service learning project, our students evaluate their experiences. With smiles of accomplishment, children always agree that it feels good to help others. When students reflect on their experiences, they are better able to make sense of the world around them and be better equipped to affect it.
At all grade levels, students work with teachers, parents, and members of the community to identify the needs of others and to plan a course of action. Younger students pick up paper around the campus for recycling and plant bulbs to beautify the environment. Students may plant vegetables and then use them to make soup for a soup kitchen. Each spring, older students reach out to younger students and assist with School-sponsored community events.
For students in Grade 7 and Grade 8, the community service expectation is formalized. At this point, students move into the larger community in many different ways, such as assisting with environmental projects or working for social change through community action groups. Students work with organizations all around the Washington, DC region, a region which provides a plethora of opportunities in a wide range of fields.
Annual service projects include:
Once a week, third and fourth graders wash, peel, and chop vegetables as well as open cans of vegetables for soup that will feed the homeless. The entire Green Acres community participates by donating ingredients for the soup. Parents assist the students in preparation and by volunteering to deliver the soup to Bethesda Cares.
Every year, all students and staff participate in a nonperishable food drive for Manna Food Center. The School has met the goal of collecting half a ton of food each drive for the past several years. Students learn about homelessness and food scarcity in their community, reading, discussing, and creating media on the subject. Students have made walking homelessness museums, started clothing drives, and addressed younger grades on the importance of being compassionate within their community.
Dr. Martin Luther King Day
On each MLK Day, the entire school breaks into cross-grade groupings to participate in a unique service project that embodies the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King. Groups have knitted fleeces for homeless shelters, written letters to Congress, acted in PSAs that discourage bullying, and a host of other initiatives. The goal is not only to raise awareness about the life and work of Dr. King but also to promote collaboration across the entire school and community.