Service Learning and Civic Engagement
Several years ago, based on extensive research and in keeping with service-learning best practices, Pingree eliminated its 50-hour community service requirement. We believe that civic engagement and service should be part of our everyday lives, and not something that is tacked on as an extra. In this sense, we have foregone our requirement of service to build a culture of service.
Through long-term partnerships and direct interactions with people and organizations outside of Pingree, students learn how to adjust to the needs of others; meeting needs as defined by the communities being served.
Pingree students participate in engagement and service activities at Pingree and beyond the school walls; opportunities to engage permeate countless elements of their four years here. As part of our Community Education Program, freshmen build a foundation for civic engagement by developing personal stewardship of the school and their responsibility to not only conserve and care for, but also improve the Pingree community. Sophomores organize and lead “informed giving” activities through a variety of drives for community organizations, and Juniors engage in civic learning in order to examine service from a “behind-the-scenes” vantage point, affording the opportunity to engage with communities and affect change through the political and civic processes.
Additionally, students will have the opportunity to learn, serve, and engage as part of academic courses (such as Spanish III and Century of Genocide), athletic teams, the arts program, the after-school service activity offered during the winter season, and a summer service trip to the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
Based on the belief that before stepping outside of the Pingree community to serve others, we must first become aware of the needs of our own community, and find ways to serve each other and the school, the stewardship program seeks to build a foundation for civic engagement and service. Students are trained by Pingree’s technology department to serve as “tech tutors” for their peers and teachers; others commit themselves to working in the student-run school store; while still others join the Green Team in order to support Pingree’s recycling efforts.
The sophomores kick off the year by hearing directly from the Executive Director of the Community Giving Tree and then conduct a backpack and school supply drive for the organization. They visit the Open Door Food Pantry to prepare, serve, and share a meal - while also learning about the many causes of food insecurity in their communities. They conclude the year with three afternoons of service at the Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary.
Juniors begin their year with a visit to the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate, where they will participate in a civic engagement simulation. Juniors coordinate and lead such events as the Special Olympics (held on Pingree campus), the holiday toy drive, Boston Serve, and the Tracy School Project. Civic Engagement involves leadership development such as volunteer management, public speaking, community outreach, and planning for the future.
Seniors have the opportunity to serve in leadership roles for service activities. Additionally, seniors will have the opportunity to learn about professional opportunities in the the field of human services, human rights law, social work, non-profit management, and civics. These opportunities will come in the form of workshops, guest speakers, “brown bag lunches,” and shadowing opportunities.