St. Stephen’s Offers Service-Learning Training with Help from an EUSA Grant

Our EUSA grant enabled us to obtain training for 3 teachers on service-learning throughout the 2023-2024 school year, from a Philadelphia based non-profit, Need in Deed. While community service has been a tradition at St. Stephen’s for a long time, service-learning invites students to use their academic skills to solve real-life problems in their schools and communities. Research has shown that working on a high quality service-learning project increases students’ engagement in school, civic responsibility, personal/social development and critical thinking skills. The Need in Deed approach guides students to choose an issue that is meaningful to them, research the local and global aspects of that issue, invite community partners to deepen their understanding, and look for ways to take action.

The third grade class chose racism as their topic, while the sixth graders chose poverty, emphasizing food insecurity. One speaker taught students about the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, while others shared with the class as part of the African American read-in. Students from many grades went to the Harrisburg City Government Center on the 56th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. King to showcase their lessons from our racial literacy curriculum.We held a school wide seed drive that culminated in our Day of Light ceremony, where every student donated seeds for a new community garden at St. Paul Episcopal Church. After a lesson on the connection between food scarcity and racial justice, the third and sixth grade classes went to St. Paul’s to plant the seeds. The third graders also created an informational brochure on the importance of eating fresh, healthy vegetables, and the interplay of racial justice and food shortages in the communities where black and brown people reside. They also wrote letters to the officers of the Greater Harrisburg Branch of the NAACP to share what they have learned about the causes and effects of racism, and what they plan to do to eradicate it. The sixth grade students also learned from speakers from the Central PA Food Bank, and wrote letters to elected officials advocating for more effective laws to combat food insecurity.

The 7th and 8th grade classes, meanwhile, chose animal rights as their topic. After visits from speakers from the Humane Society of Harrisburg, students created adoption posters and engagement toys for animals awaiting adoption.

Grant funds also enabled the teachers to travel to Philadelphia to see other teachers in the Need in Deed Teacher Service-Learning network in action in their classrooms. Afterward, they attended the organization’s annual Shout Out ceremony, where classes from throughout the network showcase their projects for the year.

We are so grateful to EUSA for the funding to make this possible!

Submitted By:
Michelle Loucas
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