The Community Service Program at Greenhill School, an affluent private school in Dallas, TX, is a unique all-inclusive effort that involves children from preschool through Upper School. Each grade focuses on a particular aspect of the community and all divisions participate in many drives throughout the year. Numerous Dallas area agencies benefit from student collections of food, grocery coupons, blue jeans, coats and school supplies. Projects include assisting children with disabilities, tutoring, working with the elderly, animal shelters, the homeless, environment and emergency service agencies and area food banks.
The program goals are to broaden students' perspectives, develop responsibility, increase exposure, enhance awareness and extend Greenhill's resources toward the betterment of the community. The school meets that challenge by providing students with structure, challenges and volunteer opportunities.
The program began in 1994, when a small group of Greenhill students adopted Herbert Marcus Elementary School as a place where they could tutor in Spanish. From that small group of tutors, the program has grown to include more than 285 students of all grade levels. Kindergarten students write weekly with the hearing impaired children at Marcus Elementary in the combined Kindergarten/first/second grade classrooms. Greenhill students learn sign language and Spanish to communicate with their Marcus Elementary friends. Each week, seventh graders at Greenhill act as tutors for Marcus Elementary second graders. In addition, Upper School students volunteer as tutors and mentors in the areas of Drama, English as a Second Language (ESL), special education, Deaf Education, Chess and Computer Literacy.
In a pilot program developed with the Texas Department of Human Services, Greenhill students provide Spanish translation to overburdened caseworkers. Another example of exemplary volunteerism is the large number of students involved with the Big Buddy program through Big Brothers and Big Sisters.
A community service "fair" is held once a year to highlight a wide variety of volunteer opportunities. Twice each year, the Upper School students and faculty participate in a day devoted exclusively to community service. The students fan out across the county to approximately 25 agencies and organizations for the day. During the 1997-8 school year, Upper School students donated a total of 19,056 hours. According to the Independent Sector, at a dollar value of $13.24 per volunteer hour, the students gave a total of $252,301.44 back to the community.
Greenhill School's commitment to service is evident in the funding of full-time Community Service Coordinator Sally Rosenberg. She monitors all student service hours, helps students find or create volunteer projects best suited to their needs and also serves as the school's outreach contact for the greater Dallas area. Greenhill students have earned a reputation as well prepared energetic volunteers.