Service learning is integral to the Crane Country Day School curriculum, and this holiday season is no exception. Crane students continue the spirit of giving back to the community by supporting many local nonprofit organizations by donating goods, volunteering their time and making monetary contributions.
For the second year in a row, Crane’s eighth-grade class is purchasing gifts for a CALM-sponsored family.
Crane students began supporting CALM last year during their service learning class, so this year’s family adoption represents continuity for the students and great relief for the family.
CALM (Child Abuse Listening Mediation) is the only nonprofit agency in Santa Barbara County whose mission is devoted to preventing, assessing and treating child abuse by providing comprehensive support services for families.
“We love the idea of kids helping kids,” said Ashlyn McCague, associate director of development at CALM. “This program allows our families to feel part of the greater community and that’s very comforting to them.”
“I am trying to encourage students to think beyond the bake sale,” said service learning teacher Janey Cohen, who guides the students yet empowers them to initiate their own volunteer or fundraising ideas.
Although Cohen admitted that those cookies can be lucrative. Just recently the fourth-grade class raised more than $400 at a bake sale benefiting Storyteller Children’s Center. And a recent coin drive generated more than $800 for typhoon relief in the Philippines. The sixth-grade class is charged with relieving hunger closer to home, overseeing a schoolwide food drive to benefit the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County this holiday season. Students are collecting jars of peanut butter, cans of coffee and many other staples, while also putting their math skills to work, creating a per capita bar chart that tracks donations by class.
Some of the youngest students on campus are also learning about community service through a program conceived by second-grade teacher Karen Ohrn, which pairs her students with an underprivileged second-grade classroom in Washington, D.C. In addition to becoming pen pals with the D.C. students, Crane kids are purchasing books to donate to the school’s library.
“One of the best qualities of the service learning projects is observing the effect that being charitable has on the students,” said Cohen, who persuaded her Upper School classes to create a blog that reflects on their community service experiences.
Cohen said students are encouraged to think about how certain situations made them feel and document those emotions and life lessons in the school’s Service Learning Adventure blog, which was created and is maintained by Crane staffer Claire Callagy.
The students will have a lot to blog about after this Friday’s annual Day of Giving, when students spread holiday cheer at Samarkand and Garden Court assisted living residencies, Head Start preschool, the Foodbank, BUNS and Bici Centro, where students will repair donated bicycles.
Crane Country Day School is a K-8 school dedicated to providing an experiential education characterized by a thoughtful balance of academic challenge and creative expression. At Crane Country Day School, it is believed that learning is most powerful when intellectual rigor and creative expression are balanced. Every day, students are challenged to think critically, find their voices, and care for one another and the world around them. At Crane, rigor and joy go hand-in-hand. Click here for more information.
— Ann Pieramici represents Crane Country Day School.