Giving back has always been a powerful way of the school expressing its mission of nurturing and graduating students who are socially conscious human beings.
Before the Parent Association established the Community Service Committee, teachers such as Jack McKenna and Debby Cuerden were piloting service learning before we even used the word. Jack often took his classes to Cherry Creek not only to study the area but also to clean up the creek. Often, Jack invited special needs classrooms from the Denver Public Schools. His students worked with these students in small groups. In addition, Mrs. Fetter also singled out Debby Cuerden’s fifth grade English classes who “were writing and donating books to Ronald McDonald House and Sewall Child Development Center.”
In 1993, Graland asked Lynn Hawthorne to tackle the task of organizing service-learning activities at the school. Even though Lynn continued to teach Spanish in our Middle and Upper Schools, she did a masterful job of providing opportunities for service learning. Always, Lynn was aware of what the definition of service learning was. “The true definition of service learning requires a connection back to the curriculum, so we looked for projects through which the children could take their learning back to the community. For example, in 1996-1997, fifth graders began a micro-credit project based on the theory that poverty could be eradicated if the government gave women small business loans. Children started their own businesses by taking out $10 small business loans. During a three week period, they turned $600 into $10,000 through various projects such as making cookbooks, babysitting and holding a craft fair.The class donated the money to UNICEF.”
I have powerful memories of working at the Rocky Mountain Food Bank with seventh graders, gleaning onions in the fields with eighth graders, dusting and polishing trophies at the school with my eighth-grade advisory, and visiting Sewall with a group of eighth graders.
Christie James has continued Lynn’s mission with great success. I shall leave that update to Graland’s future chroniclers.
Graland Country Day School is a private school in Denver, Colorado, serving students in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school. Founded in Denver in 1924, Graland incorporates a rich, experiential learning approach in a traditional classroom setting, emphasizing the development of globally and socially conscious leaders who excel academically.