The students of St. Paul's Episcopal School annually, collectively provide over 7,000 hours in community service through a variety of activities and projects during the school day. These projects are linked directly to their classroom learning and feature reflection as an essential component.
St. Paul's students not only perform community service, but they study why it is important and what bearing their activities have on their community, the environment, and themselves. In eighth grade, they even devise their own community projects as part of a leadership session of their humanities curriculum.
Located in downtown Oakland, St. Paul's is an urban school. The students reflect the many cultural, socioeconomic, and racial communities in the greater Oakland area. The academic program utilizes the many learning experiences that a large metropolitan area can offer, such as museums, cultural neighborhoods, libraries, parks, performance venues, and even the YMCA. As young people who live in this urban environment, St. Paul's students are also encouraged to express their citizenship by giving back to the greater community – to their neighbors and to the environs in which they live.
St. Paul's Service Learning program is integrated into the overall education. All of the projects that the students undertake are connected to academic learning and other disciplines, such as social studies, language arts, art, music, science and math. An important component of this program is reflection, where in writing and in conversation, the students examine the world in which they live, their relationship to it, and the ways they can assist others.
For over a decade, St. Paul's third graders have been taking the only census of migratory birds in the Lake Merritt estuary. For over five years, St. Paul's students have provided services to an Alameda county shelter system and cleaned Lake Merritt. They visit seniors, speak Spanish as tutors to preschoolers, clean storm drains, tutor public elementary school students, collect and donate books for young people in the Philippines, and many other activities.
When an emergency need arises, the students immediately create support projects. In response to the hurricanes, for example, students conducted a bake sale, a jar collection project (with a matching gift from the Episcopal Diocese), and an all-school Empty-Your-Pockets day. For the second year, St. Paul's students planted daffodil bulbs with the Keep Oakland Beautiful Campaign. St. Paul's students also invited the parishioners of St. Paul's Episcopal Church to join them in several projects. St. Paul's students never cease to impress and amaze me with their generosity and their diligence to do good things in the world. They are tireless advocates of the community and the world.