B'ville School connects service to learning

At the start of the school year, the character education committee at McNamara Elementary School began exploring the possibility of establishing relationships with local agencies and organizations to develop grade specific service projects for students. The committee's main goal for collaborating with agencies was to connect community service to learning while filling unmet needs in the community and reinforcing positive traits.

According to Jeffrey Seltzer, the school's social worker, opportunities for service were established for kindergarten and for McNamara's second, third and fifth grades. These classes have worked on projects for specific agencies incorporating skills in planning, teamwork, art, math, writing, social studies and critical thinking to serve community needs.

After learning about the Baldwinsville Meals on Wheels program, McNamara's kindergarteners rolled up their sleeves and became part of the organization's volunteer network. Throughout the school year, they have decorated bags the organization uses to deliver meals. Their artwork has usually reflected a holiday or seasonal theme or something they have learned in class. Seltzer said many of the recipients of the colorful bags have commented on how they have brightened their day.

McNamara's second-graders worked on a service project to benefit the children at the Golisano Children's Hospital. The students learned that the children who are being treated there have to attend school, but many do not have book bags to use to hold their books and supplies. The second-graders decided to raise money so they could purchase bags for the children. They did chores at home and kept track of the money they earned with a graph in each classroom to incorporate the math curriculum into the project. They collected $200, and with a donation from the PTA, several personal donations and a generous discount at Hobby Lobby, the second-graders were able to purchase 200 bags at the store, which they decorated with their own creative designs.

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