by Julie Kelly-Detwiler, Assistant Head of School
Each year at this holiday season, we take a moment at Inly to give thanks for family, friends, and community, and we look for ways to contribute to others from this place of abundance. We teach our students that service to others and developing an understanding of ourselves in relationship to a larger community and world, are central to personal development and fulfillment.
Seeds of service learning
The seeds of our service-learning curriculum are sown in our toddler program, take root and grow through each level of the school, and extend into our alumni community. At the heart of this curriculum is Maria Montessori’s mandate to empower children to become agents of change, and our personal mission to create global citizens. The goal of the service work we do at all levels at Inly is to promote the development of life long lessons in empathy, hard work and cultural awareness, while giving students a sense of belonging to a community.
Service learning through the years
As you walk the halls at Inly, you see examples of service. Our Toddlers and Children’s House students learn to recognize the needs of another and to offer help and support through our formalized grace and courtesy curriculum. In Lower Elementary, our students are coming to understand our shared needs as humans though their study of fundamental needs. In Upper Elementary, students go out into the community through a formal service learning program that takes place each Friday. In Middle School, our complete 20 hours of service each year as a part of their program of study. For the third year, our graduating 8th graders and high school alumni will have the opportunity to travel to Guatemala to participate in a two-week service learning program. And for the second year, the adults in the Inly community have the opportunity to touch lives in our own community through the small moments campaign.
School Wide Fundraising Project: Heifer International
Additionally, this year our school wide project is supporting the work of Heifer International (www.heifer.org). Led by the Community Service representatives for the Inly Parent Committee, each classroom from Children’s House through Middle School has chosen a target goal. In Children’s House, students are bringing in change to purchase ducks, chickens, a goat and a pig. Lower Elementary Classrooms are working to purchase sheep, rabbits and a heifer. The Upper Elementary Classrooms have set the goal of raising funds to subsidize a community health worker, to purchase a llama, and to buy assorted trees for reforestation projects. While Middle School students are committed to sending a girl in a developing country to school.
Throughout the year, our students will engage in a multifaceted Heifer curriculum to deepen their understanding of the work of development, to learn more about different regions of the world, and to connect more closely to the lives their gifts will impact. Already, some classrooms have reached their first goal and have adopted another. Students from 4 to 14 are talking about ways they can earn and then donate their money to this worthwhile cause, and some have shared that they have asked for gifts to Heifer for Christmas. This feeling of giving is contagious, and our community is marked by it.
As you share this winter break with family and friends, we encourage you to keep this conversation alive with your children. Support them in recognizing the needs of others, create the opportunity for them to give from a sense of abundance, reflect on the connection we all share as humans, and celebrate together that most precious gift of relationship.