It was the end of the day and children were heading out of their classrooms to go home. As I was rushing around my office trying to wrap up my day, a first grader walked in and said he wanted to talk to me about something important.
“Mrs. Wollum, I was thinking we could do a coin drive, and that kids could collect money for the food bank to help people who are hungry. Could we start tomorrow?”
Talk about a way to melt the head of school’s heart!
As the holidays approach and the year draws to a close, one of the things I am most grateful for is the opportunity to be part of a school whose students love to serve. Whether it’s helping a friend feel better when he’s skinned a knee on the playground or taking part in a community service project like the Pierce County Hunger Walk, our students want to make a difference.
|This first grader went door-to-door in his |
neighborhood to collect this food!
The student and his family participated in this fall’s Hunger Walk as part of Team Seabury. Several weeks later, his class took a field trip to visit one of the local food banks to see an example of how the money they had raised had helped families in our area. They heard about the people the food bank helps, and about how the numbers of families, especially families with working parents and children, have increased during the difficult economy. They also saw empty shelves where there wasn’t enough food to meet all the needs. When they got back to school, the children immediately decided we needed to do a school-wide food drive to provide more help – an initiative that was supported by their teacher and so our November food drive began. Our first graders made posters, talked with classes, went door to door in their neighborhoods, tracked and graphed donations every day and ended up bringing in nearly 900 items. It was incredible. But it is clear from my first grade friend’s visit yesterday that we aren’t done yet!
A December service project was also student led this year. Inspired by a project her family supports every year, and seeing through the food drive what can happen when you involve your friends, a third grade student asked if she could ask our students to help her gather toys and coats for Allen A.M.E.’s Christmas House. This was another student led project – our staff just made the time and space for her to work with her friends to make it happen. And as a result, her family filled their car – twice – with donations for needy families in our community.
Service has become part of Seabury’s program across all our grade levels. Fostering our children’s desire to serve and providing opportunities for them to see that they can make a real difference in their community are important parts of Seabury’s program – and play key roles in the social-emotional development of our children. But it is times like this when we see our children take these lessons to heart that light up our days.
We often hear that gifted children have the potential to make a difference in the world. I believe that is true. But ultimately, the choices they will make in their lives and the work they will do as adults will be determined not just by their potential, but by the opportunities they have had to be inspired, to be challenged, to think deeply, to wonder, and to serve. When we provide children with opportunities to experience what is possible when we care and are willing to work together, and give them a chance to ‘try on” what it feels like to be involved in meaningful ways, they are inspired and want to do more. When we introduce them to those in their community who are using their gifts to inspire and lead and create positive change, they put a face on what is possible. The choice will be our children’s, ultimately. But if they have positive experiences in leading and serving as children and young adults, how much more likely will they be to continue to seek opportunities to serve as they grow up? It is exciting to consider.
So as we get ready to say goodbye for our winter break, I will be thinking about my first grade friend. And my third grade friend. And all our children. I am grateful to be part of their lives. And I am hopeful about our future. Because they are not only going to be great leaders and servants in the future - they are leaders and servants right now!
-- Sandi Wollum, Head of School