Inspiring Action During the Holidays and Beyond
Nearly every morning, I walk to Chapel with all of our students. I look forward to this time when we gather together and mindfully consider a range of topics – from concepts of patience, love, and tolerance, to stories from the Bible that students can translate into their daily life. Regardless of our students’ religious backgrounds, Chapel is a breath that we take together – a moment to center ourselves and consider the day ahead.
I am especially proud when I see our students – of all ages – take their learnings from Chapel and turn them into action. I believe our Chapel program, expertly led by Service Learning teacher Kim Thacker, is simply one of the best there is. And there are moments – almost like lightbulbs in our students’ developing minds – when they want to take their learning further. I’d like to share a few examples of when I witnessed this recently.
A Capstone Project on Sub-Saharan Africa. Last Thursday, there was a presentation from a Trinity alum, Grace (Class of 2014). The presentation was part of her Capstone Project at Menlo School, where she is a Junior. She shared the findings of her research on women in Sub-Saharan Africa with 3rd, 4th, and 5th-grade students. The presentation and subsequent discussion centered on the education of women and the impact of that education on the women themselves, and the population as a whole. Her poise and command of the subject matter was a testament to her knowledge of the full context of the issue. Our students were interested in the concept of acting through learning from a full knowledge base. They also connected Grace’s work to their own work with Achungo School in Kenya. It was an important connection for our students to make about learning and acting.
A Crowdsourced Donation to the Ronald McDonald House. The second example is much closer to home. Last Sunday, just as I sat down to watch the 4th quarter of the 49ers game, I received a message from a parent about an impromptu activity that a group of kids were doing to try and help families at the Ronald McDonald House, which provides aid to critically sick children and their families. The students were at the Target in Redwood City, so I ran over to say hi. When I got there, there were seven 2nd and 3rd graders under the clear direction from their parents. The students had printed lists of what was most needed by Ronald McDonald House, and each child scrutinized their list (their knowledge base). From there, they filled their carts with items ranging from soap to batteries to children’s clothes. The focus of the kids was inspiring as they understood they were not purchasing items for themselves, but for others. After purchasing the items, the students brought everything to the Ronald McDonald House. This is action: the students understood the mission and knowing it, they acted.
A Service Learning Initiative with Avenidas, an Organization that Supports Seniors. I was delighted to see a coordinated, cross-generational learning opportunity in support of Avenidas that culminated just this morning on our preschool campus. Avenidas is a non-profit organization that seeks to “re-invent aging” and operates enrichment centers in Mountain View for seniors. Lower Campus Director, Sue Krishna, and Camille Kennedy, former Trinity parent and VP of Strategic Partnerships at Avenidas, organized an initiative with our students, teachers, and parents that included a mitten, scarf and sock drive and students baking banana bread for seniors. In addition to this “tactical” work, Camille highlighted the concept of aging for students as young as three and four. For example, she explained that students walking into a preschool classroom for the first time might feel anxious about meeting new friends or creating new experiences, and it’s exactly the same for an older person who moves into a new place. Our ages may divide us, but our emotional experiences connect us. I want to thank Camille and our entire preschool community who shared in this important lesson in service-learning.
These collective examples show the evolution of learning to serve. They’re examples of the emerging connectedness to the world around them. And it doesn’t happen by accident – there is always a prompt somewhere. And, frankly, because Trinity does so much work beyond academic excellence and into service-learning, these students took advantage of the platform which we’ve all built together as parents, teachers, clergy, grandparents, and friends. Furthermore, we at Trinity look far beyond the elementary school years to foster the sense of service-learning. We encourage the lessons learned through our Preschool to Grade 5 service-learning program with the Alumni Grant program.
I feel extremely fortunate to have had the holiday season slow down, be able to absorb the meaningful moments, and connect with the larger world. And still, I know, that in ways large and small, that we as a community will continue to act together and to live our values to the fullest.
My best to you for the Holidays.