Learning and growing through service to others.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. asserted, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” The district’s gifted learners utilize needs assessments, voice their concerns and interests, investigate, and act to serve others and create change.
Target students at many schools across the district engage in service learning. These students identify service and learning objectives that affect change in recipients and in themselves. They organize meaningful experiences that meet the needs of their communities. They investigate issues, use their voice, develop community partnerships, and reflect throughout the chosen project. Students continue to learn through experiences and active participation, developing understanding of what it means to be socially responsible as they learn about larger social issues or problems they seek to solve.
Students are often inspired by units of study. Fifth graders at King Springs read The Boy who Harnessed the Wind. They chose to support Ripple Africa, a charitable organization that specifically funds projects in Malawi. Students planned and carried out various fundraisers, raising $3,400 for Ripple Africa. After reading the same novel, fifth graders at Mountain View researched the UN Sustainable Development Goals. They investigated charities and their fund allocations before also deciding to support Ripple Africa. Their fundraising campaign kicks off March 2. At the same time, students will continue their focus on the UN Sustainable Development Goals as they research and develop inspiring TED talks.
Many Target programs utilize a service learning unit framework. Fifth graders at Bullard brainstormed issues of interest and were grouped accordingly. One group has partnered with their school’s Green Team to create and implement a sustainable recycling campaign. A second group is collecting items for Mostly Mutts, will make dog treats, and will travel to the organization. Another group is working with MUST Ministriesto teach all the school’s students how to construct a no-sew blanket. All Target students and each homeroom class will make a blanket for MUST, helping the organization in their effort to collect at least 4,000 a year. Three groups have collaborated and are working with students and teachers in autism classrooms to create a sensory garden. One group seeks to build a greenhouse from water bottles, while the second designs a sensory path leading to the greenhouse, and the third designs an interactive marble run and mural for a nearby retaining wall.
Various other service learning projects are taking place across the district. Fourth and fifth grade Target students at LaBelle plan an annual “Random Acts of Kindness” day where they take time to thank teachers and staff for their work throughout the year. Students and their parents participate on committees, choosing to decorate, greet, serve, photograph, or clean. Musical entertainment and a guest host are included as well. Fourth graders at Murdock are investigating hunger right here in Atlanta. They will learn about and tour the new Atlanta Community Food Bankfacility in April. Students will volunteer in the Product Rescue Center by sorting, weighing, and packing boxes for distribution. East Side Target students, grades 1-5, and their families investigate community needs, collaboratively problem solve, and perform service projects every other month. One recent project involved students collecting ‘mountains of mittens’. They donated to MUST Ministries, a local school, and to Simple Needs of Marietta.
Angela Wilson, Consultant K-12