At Harbor School, Service Learning is deeply integrated into our school culture. The purpose of our Service Learning program is to develop and enhance compassion, responsibility, and leadership in our students through experiential learning. The program enables students to recognize needs in the community, address those needs, reflect on their experience and celebrate their achievements. We accomplish this by planning projects within each academic topic that enhances the curriculum, as well as dedicating specific days each year solely to service learning in our local community. The interweaving of service with the curriculum strengthens the philosophy that service is a part of daily life and that it should not be only be compartmentalized.
We emphasize service to the school, to the community, to the region and to the world by choosing a variety of projects that touch each of these areas. Upper Elementary students regularly work with the senior citizens at the Vashon Community Care Center, help harvest food for the island food bank, and work to help other local organizations.
In every case, what looks like a service project ends up being a unique learning opportunity for our students. Volunteering at the Vashon Food Bank turns into an energizing foray in the garden. Volunteering at a large metropolitan food bank in Seattle the very next day allows students to compare and contrast the two operations and think about how they might cooperate in the future. One local two-way-street project is our partnership with King County Library to provide tutoring and mentorship to children from Spanish-speaking island families.
A SERVICE STORY
One year the advisory Homegroups chose to focus on either People, Hunger, or Environment. The group focusing on People first studied about homelessness and then visited Harborview's Pioneer Square Medical Clinic, which provides care for those unable to pay. Students made lunches for people receiving services there. Another group learned more specifically about Hunger by working with the Vashon Maury Community Food Bank, Northwest Harvest, and FareStart. A third group spent their three days on Environment by planting trees and removing ivy along Judd Creek in support of the Vashon Maury Island Land Trust. The Upper Elementary group combined all three subjects by working with the local food bank, cleaning up at Camp Niwana, and visiting the elders at Vashon Community Care, our island retirement and assisted living center. These experiences offer rewarding connections for our students and demonstrate how our school goes beyond the walls of the classroom to help educate the whole child.