Sunday, March 18 , 2018, 6:26 pm | A Few Clouds 56º


Santa Barbara Middle School Students Put Thanks, Giving Into Thanksgiving Curriculum

Sixth- through ninth-graders grow with gratitude by connecting with the community

Each year, Santa Barbara Middle School leads its students into the Thanksgiving holiday by fanning them out into the community to volunteer and experience the ways of the working world.

Ninth-grade students choose to participate by doing community service at nonprofits such as Unity Shoppe and Hillside House, while seventh- and eighth-grade students are taken in by local businesses for Career Study week. And this year, Santa Barbara Middle School’s sixth-graders will create a video highlighting the difference between a job and a career.

SBMS learning specialist and sixth-grade teacher Caroline DeLoreto, along with Kyra Lehman, founder of Proximity Theatre, said this year’s sixth-grade theme is to explore, “What makes life worth living?” The students will interview cooks, farmers, Hollywood studio executives, the homeless and passersby on local streets.

“Our intent is to focus on what it means to be human, what gets you up in the morning; making kids aware of their options, and encouraging them to find work that makes them excited,” DeLoreto said.

A true hands-on exposure to the real working world during Career Study week is the goal for the seventh- and eighth-grade students. Local businesses of all kinds show Santa Barbara Middle School students the ways of the business world with a 25-hour workweek. Admissions Director Whitney Ingersoll spearheads the program.

“It’s a real gift what these volunteer companies are doing to help our students,” Ingersoll said. “Our school really appreciates it.”

She said the list of benefits for the students is endless. Not only do they participate in the operations of these businesses, but they learn how to write a resume and business letter, how to make a business phone call, how to dress professionally, and how to shake hands and look someone in the eye. Above all, the students learn how to communicate with adults, and they learn whether the job and the work environment feels right for them.

“This week stretches our students in all different directions,” Ingersoll said. “When it comes time to get a real job, they are a step ahead.”

Student Hannah Dwelley said the experience builds character.

“It helped me to not give up,” she said. “I was rejected by so many places before I finally got my job. I had to stay persistent.”

Eighth-grader Aliana Sherrill spent a week at a retail clothier.

“You meet a lot of different kinds of people,” she said. “Some nice and some not so nice. It teaches you how to better prepare for a real life job in the future.”

All students are evaluated on their off-campus adventure.

Ninth-grade students stretch even further as they step out of their comfort zone to volunteer helping patients with Alzheimer’s disease and cerebral palsy, children with cancer, and preschool children whose parents are looking for work, just to name a few.

SBMS Spanish teacher Kelly Rosenheim has coordinated the ninth-grade volunteer program for 22 years. She said her own experience as an SBMS ninth-grader in 1982 was profound.

“My ninth-grade year, I volunteered at Montessori Center and that was one of the first moments I realized I liked this teaching gig,” she said, adding that the experience dissolves fear and generates empathy with the students because they see a human face along with the disability. “By ninth grade it’s about giving back to the community. It’s important for our kids to work with different populations of people they aren’t normally exposed to. Nine out of 10 times our kids come back completely changed; walls and stereotypes have been broken down.”

On the back of every SBMS bike jersey reads the school motto, “Go with gratitude.” Rosenheim said this Thanksgiving week curriculum is another gratitude awakening.

“They develop a sense of gratitude for the opportunity to serve their community and expand beyond themselves,” she said.

— Larry Good is a Santa Barbara Middle School parent.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >