Look in any classroom at MCDS and somewhere you will find the words “Respect, Responsibility, Compassion.” These words, and the school’s mission statement as a whole, clearly demonstrate that we strive to do more than just churn out academically competent learners. Every member of the school community is actively involved in experiences that foster growth and deepen understanding of all kinds –academic, social and emotional. This is at the heart of the school’s Service Learning program, one of the primary tools used to integrate the school’s mission into the life of the MCDS community.
Community service has always been a part of the MCDS culture, through service clubs and student council activities, and is still a vital part of the school. Both play an important role in supporting the mission of the school. The main difference between them is that service learning is an integral part of the classroom curriculum. The motto, “Much to offer, much to learn” typifies our approach to service learning.
Service Learning at MCDS is divided into three different areas: connecting with others, ecoliteracy, and civic responsibility. Each year students are involved in a range of activities that expose them to issues of concern in our culture and give them opportunities to address these issues in a meaningful way. These experiences also help broaden the children’s awareness and understanding of people and communities in Marin and San Francisco. Some projects extend beyond our local communities with a global reach.
Key to the success of the Service Learning program is the follow-up component. Students are encouraged to reflect on their experiences; classroom activities such as journals, art projects and oral presentations allow the students to explore their reactions and better understand their roles as members of a community.