Community Involvement through Service
Making positive social change in stewardship of local & global communities
Connecting the real world with what our students are learning at school is at the core of our service program. At Woodlawn our students, in all grade levels, advocate for a specific local or global cause that is interwoven throughout their year-long course of study. Rather than fulfilling a required number of hours, our students spend the year understanding and gaining perspective of their service partner. Our program is enriched through a guided and intentional curriculum that also incorporates many on-site experiences for the students. As we persistently push our students out of their comfort zones, we see them working side by side, confronting their own fears or prejudices, and developing a greater sense of appreciation for all they have.
We build bridges of insight through empathy, the effort to see the world through the eyes of others, understand the world through their experiences, and feel the world through their emotions.
Tim Brown, Change By Design
Sarah Henry, Service Learning Teacher Kindergarten
The kindergarten year is the foundational year for our service learning curriculum. Students focus on service at home, service at school and service in the community. Our community service partnership is with the Ronald McDonald House in Charlotte. The house looks and acts as a real home to families in need of a place to stay while their child receives treatment at the local children's hospital. The Ronald McDonald House supports families by providing everything that you would typically find at home: a laundry room, a beautiful kitchen, a pantry to store personal food items, a play room, a homework area, and private sleeping areas. Our kindergarten students collect household items to donate throughout the year. They also they go to Build-A-Bear Workshop to create a special bear to donate to the children of the house. Kindergarten supports a school-wide pop tab collection which also creates income for the RMH to use. The goal is to collect one million pop tabs in order to financially support 40 families during their stay.
Tracy Hoskins, Service Learning Teacher 1st GradeFirst grade service learning focuses on pet care and service animals. Students help the Cornelius Animal Shelter and Rescue Ranch collect donations for their organizations. We visit the facilities and learn about what happens at each location. Service animals come to our classroom to visit as we learn about the types of services each animal provides. The goal of the service learning curriculum in first grade is to make students aware of how important people and animals are for our community.
Dawn Modrak, Service Learning Teacher 2nd GradeThe second grade service learning partnership is with The Mooresville Library. The students visit the library once a month to help with various projects. One big project they participate in is cleaning, sorting and leveling books using the Scholastic Wizard Program. Ms. Crystal then takes these books to her bookshelves at the Mooresville Soup Kitchen for all children and families to enjoy. Students also collect books for the library throughout the year for children and families in need. In addition to serving at the library, the children learn about the library and how it works. Each child gets a library card to checkout and return books. This encourages responsibility and nurtures their love of reading.
Jamie Gunby, Service Learning Teacher 3rd GradeThe 3rd grade class goes to 5th Street Ministries, a homeless shelter located in Statesville, NC. 5th Street Ministries provides clothing, food, and access to healthcare and is a safe sanctuary for men, women, and children. The 3rd grade students help in the kitchen when they visit the shelter each month. Students serve food and dessert, hand out water, and greet the people that visit the shelter. Each fall, students hold a bake sale at Woodlawn and all the money is donated to 5th Street Ministries to help those in need.
Catherine Packard, Service Learning Teacher 4th GradeOur fourth graders learn early on in the school year that being a role model is a core value for their class. Soon they begin to define themselves as role models as they serve as mentors to young children at Thomasboro Academy in Charlotte. Once a month, the fourth graders serve the students at Thomasboro in a variety of ways. Some examples include being a one-on-one reading buddy, assisting with literacy and math activities for small groups, and conducting whole group read alouds. This rewarding service partnership provides an opportunity for our fourth graders to apply important life skills such as good listening and communication skills, patience, empathy, reflection, and respect.
Jerod Jones, Service Learning Teacher 5th gradeThe 5th grade focus for service learning is campus recycling. By preventing pollution and preserving habitats for wildlife, the fifth graders seek to live out the essential question: How do people make a difference in the world? This means getting our hands dirty and collecting between 300-400lbs of recycling each and every week. It is truly one of the most important jobs on campus and our 5th graders serve as recycling role models for others on campus.
Elizabeth Morgan & MaryBeth Schaffner, 6th Grade Service Learning TeachersThe sixth grade service learning program focuses on animal advocacy. Students participate in a variety of activities that allow them to learn about domesticated and wild animals and how to advocate for proper animal care. Students work throughout the year to understand the importance of responsible animal ownership, working to educate their community about various topics related to ethical animal treatment. They will work with local animal shelters to learn common reasons for animal surrender and develop materials for potential pet owners that address these concerns. Students will also work to support shelters by raising money selling homemade dog biscuits at Christmas in Davidson, making beds and toys for animals living in shelters, and creating animal care packets for current and future pet owners. At the end of the year, students will choose one habit, organization, or activity that they will commit supporting throughout their time at Woodlawn.
Chris VanAmburgh & Katie Verlin, 7th Grade Service Learning TeachersThe aim of seventh grade service is to introduce students to sustainability as a way to become positive contributors to our society. Through class discussions and readings students explore a variety of environmental issues facing our local, regional, and global community. Students then develop community action plans to enact on our campus, and in our local community to help develop a sustainable society. Every month, our seventh graders partner with Sow Much Good in Huntersville, a NC non-profit organization dedicated to growing organically for charitable purposes. Students also explore ways to provide educational opportunities to others so they can incorporate sustainable practices into their own lifestyles, and connect the larger community with nature in a sustainable and practical way.
Beth Robinson and Sayre Weir, 8th Grade Service Learning Teachers
As we grow in our understanding of the roles cast upon the aging in our society, we explore the complex world in which the “old” must learn to live. We closely evaluate the misconceptions and labels that are sometimes tagged to older adults. Through reflections, class discussions, a look at other cultures, and visits to the Brian Center, we develop appreciation and respect for older adults in our society, along with a sense of empathy and concern for human beings, regardless of their position in life. The service learning activities are student driven, providing an opportunity for the development and practice of planning, organization, collaboration and presentation skills. While creating friendships and learning about history through the life stories of residents at the Brian Center for Health and Rehabilitation in Mooresville, students become more aware about the community in which they live.
Jacquelyn DeBellis and Joel Eisenhofer, Service Lead and Assist
Hunger and homelessness are found in every country and in every community, big or small. Under this track, students explore the conditions that cause poverty as well as other difficult circumstances (natural disasters, civil war, etc) that complicate the local to global concern for populations without adequate food, water, or shelter. After students spend some time discovering the complexities of poverty, they are guided in connecting their personal interest with our curriculum and community in order to complete a project geared toward supporting the homeless or impoverished.
Elizabeth Obando and Patrick Braxton-Andrew, Service Lead and Assist
Under this track, students discover the issues facing immigrants and refugees coming into the United States. Through guest speakers, readings, and discussion, students explore stereotypes, misconceptions, legality, and other issues that complicate the immigration process. Students learn about local services available to immigrants and refugees and then are guided in connecting their personal interest with our curriculum and community in order to complete a project geared toward supporting immigrants/refugees.
Laine Amortegui and Kyle Tilley, Service Leads
The need for social change is frequently rooted in intolerance. This intolerance can be focused on issues of race, religion, LGBT+, etc. The 'change' itself often means bringing about awareness, movement, or momentum all leading up to action. Students explore the many avenues that fall under this track and then are guided in connecting their personal interest with our curriculum and community in order to complete a personal project that invites action toward supporting one of the social issues.
Laine Amortegui and Kyle Tilley, Capstone Leads
At Woodlawn School, “our mission is to produce independent, lifelong learners who are responsible, contributing members of a diverse global society.” As senior students near the end of their Woodlawn experience, the Capstone Project provides the opportunity for students to demonstrate their understanding and fulfillment of the school’s mission. Students meet requirements throughout the year that address each part of the mission statement. Through successful completion of the Capstone Project, students demonstrate their mastery of the school’s core values.
In the Upper School, students in grades 9 -11 pick a service track to study for the school year. They spend the year examining and gaining perspective of the topics that fall under their selected track. The program is enriched through a guided and intentional curriculum that also incorporates on-site experiences for the students. Following the Design Thinking model of inquiry and action, we guide our students in finding and narrowing their particular service interest into a more personal project for the year. Each service track is team taught by two teachers for the school year and students are placed in mixed grade groups based upon their chosen interest. Students may repeat the same track in consecutive years since different topics or issues may be chosen for their personal project.
Take a peek inside the classroom...
Everything has a story
Developing a heart for service through empathy
Filling the "museum"We are all connected by the mere fact that we have clothes, shoes, toys, and even household items. Each of those items is personal to us and “has a story to tell”. By donating items to this school wide service event, our students are ensuring that the “story” continues for so many others in need. The third grade class distributed all of the donations to our various service partners and other community organizations in need: Fifth Street Ministries, Thomasboro Academy, The Brian Center, Ada Jenkins Center, and Hope House.
A real-world experience
The core of Woodlawn’s service program is our commitment to building ongoing partnerships between school and community. Through service, our students gain an understanding of the importance of helping others and in turn, develop empathy.
Going through this amazing museum reminded me of how caring and giving our community is. It brought tears to my eyes to think that others in need will receive these special "gifts"!Mrs. Modrak, 2nd Grade Teacher
This public art display was inspired by the third grade partnership with Fifth Street Ministry and the work of artist, Kaarina Kaikkonen.
Kaarina Kaikkonen is an internationally renowned installation artist who works with masses of clothing to alter our perception of shared spaces and shared lives. Her projects are often cooperative in nature, seeking donated clothes from public sources. The way Kaikkonen ties forms together suggests how we are all connected. Kaikkonen sees her work as communal in spirit yet speaking to individual experience. The complexities of the personal histories and emotions embedded in each piece of clothing are amplified by the collective nature of this installation.~Referenced from her public art installation entitled: “We Share a Dream” located in the Buffalo International Airport