Service in First Program
First Program service learning curriculum integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience of our youngest students. Our goal is to teach civic responsibility as we strengthen our community.
Seeing the issues our community faces through fresh eyes, our students can creatively solve problems with heartfelt solutions. By raising awareness of equal rights, food insecurity, homelessness, education, and animal and environmental issues, we can build the muscles of gratitude, compassion, and empathy that help our children grow up to be healthy, caring, and responsible community members.
Service in Middle School
In Middle School, service learning seeks to give students opportunities to care and act for others with intelligence and empathy. Middle Schoolers have multiple occasions to pause in the direction of problems and spend time examining possible responses. Once they grapple with the complexities of issues and options for solutions, children prepare to intervene in the best way possible. Debriefing allows students to evaluate their actions, the response, and any continued need. If appropriate, a group may serve in the same area again. The hope is that Middle School students will repeat this process several times over their five years of Middle School. In this way, students will experience compassion, raise their awareness of issues, and develop competencies as problem solvers and change makers. We also recognize not all service exists for our learning, so sometimes we encourage joyful and straightforward service.
Service in High School
High School students' commitment to service learning builds upon their First Program and Middle School experiences by fostering individual responsibility for service. Students meet with the Community Service Coordinator to find appropriate service placements and provide ongoing support as they pursue individual and group projects.
Students must complete 40 total hours of service by graduation and complete a minimum of 5 hours per year. They are encouraged to foster partnerships outside of Dalton, as well as create community-building opportunities within. Through service, students understand the value of empathy, compassion, and caring as the basis for civic responsibility.
Dalton students remained steadfast in their commitment to service throughout the Covid-19 pandemic:
- They have created digital masks to say “Thank You” to front line workers
- They have created cards and written letters to the homebound and elderly
- They have organized and contributed to food drives to support various food pantries around NYC
- They hosted karaoke, bingo, and chess events with the Carter Burden
- Center for the Aging. They have partnered with senior citizens from the 92nd Street Y for tech tutorials, film club, recipe exchange, and a comprehensive oral history project.
- Dalton Political Action Committee led multiple voter registration drives.
- Daniel's Music Foundation Junior Council and Best Buddies have participated in several Zoom open mics, dance parties, and game nights with students who have intellectual and developmental disabilities.
- Project Swish (a project initiated by two high schoolers) has cleaned up and added new nets to basketball courts throughout the city.
- Hello Future Club partnered with refugees from Syria in a think-a-thon to improve remote education.
In other remarkable projects, students have become pen pals with senior citizens, delivered groceries to neighbors and friends in need, put on outdoor concerts, and remotely tutored students both inside and outside the Dalton community.
As the world changes, Dalton remains a steady force of community, positivity, and civic engagement.