Spotlight on Service Learning in the Lower School

December 16, 2021

Each grade level in the lower school has taken on a theme for service learning this year. By incorporating lessons and activities into the curriculum, students gain experience in empathy and leading a life of purpose.

In addition, some 3rd-5th grade students joined the Service Learning Club. These kids helped out after school to take care of recycling bins, help teachers with displays, bulletin boards, bookshelves, organization, and cleaning, and they created a special mural in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. They learned about how important it is to care for our small community at TDS. I am so proud of their volunteerism!

Here is what’s been happening this semester across the lower school!

TK has been collecting paper towel waste from several rooms in the HAC. We collect them throughout the week and when our container is full we dump it into the large outdoor compost bins. We also collect our food scraps in a small compost bin everyday. We know the waste will come back as rich soil for the garden beds.

In Kindergarten, we’ve introduced our students to conversations about bees and what they do for our community. We’ve talked about the importance of not harming bees, even though they can be scary.

First grade placemats
First Grade’s service learning theme is focused on homes and homelessness. First Grade is partnering with the Homeless Shelter for Women and Mothers with Children (“Good Samaritan’s Inn”), which is a part of the Durham Rescue Mission. We are in the process of making winter placemats to add cheer to the dining area of the facility. To learn more about this program and some other ways to help the Durham Rescue Mission, please visit their website.

The first semester has been a large learning experience for Second Grade. While studying the community, we had visits from the Durham Fire department, the Mayor of Durham, several doctors and emergency service providers, as well as researchers for COVID-19. We learned that our TDS community is built upon contributions from all members. We have learned about different cultures and heritage by sharing memories and traditions.

Third Grade spent the first quarter researching how composting works through books, videos, and a virtual field trip with Duke Gardens. Currently, the third graders are working on projects to teach and increase the compost at our school. In January, they plan to share their learning, hold a competition and present a video to encourage composting around TDS.

How to Steal a Dog by Barbara O’Connor
This year, Fourth Grade’s service-learning has focused on homelessness/housing insecurity. We started by learning about the causes and effects of homelessness. We read the novel How to Steal a Dog by Barbara O’Connor, which shares the experiences of a young girl living with her mother and little brother in the family car. She’ll do anything to help her family, but she struggles to determine what is right. Now, we are exploring the agencies in Durham that provide support to people struggling to find a home.

Fifth Grade’s service-learning is focused on literacy and equity in education. Many of our mentor texts have themes around education equity around the world. In partnership with Book Harvest, 5th Grade now leads the book drive collection by sorting books and creating bookmarks. We hope to spread the love of reading to all the kids in the Triangle community!

Share Your Holidays gifts donated by families
Thank you to all the families who donated gifts for our Share Your Holidays event. We were able to sponsor two large families!

Stay tuned for more opportunities to volunteer on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, January 17. School is out that day, but we will be busy learning about ways to support our local community. Look for a sign-up email right after the break!

If you have ideas for community partnerships for TDS, please send them to Samantha Lazar, 5th Grade Teacher and Service Learning Coordinator.

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