Students Change was started in the fall of 2009 when a second grade teacher saw a picture in a magazine. The caption said, give. Together that second grade team and staff at Stewartsboro Elementary School wanted to use the power of giving to enhance their students’ education. The goal of the project was two fold. First to enrich the lives of students and the second to help those who didn’t have access to materials used daily in U.S. schools. Today, a year later, we see that our goal has been met and continues to provide endless learning opportunities for our students.
Teachers are always looking for authentic ways to bring standards, curriculum and content to life. Students Change is a true service learning project. It is not intended to be another feel good program that is started, finished, and then never to be heard from again. Students Change takes effort and heart. This project is a platform to connect children with other children in under privileged parts of the world. It is intended to be an ongoing project with anticipation and elaboration from year to year. A student’s education is the foundation to ensure the longevity of any school project.
For three weeks of their life students aren’t just encouraged to give loose change so students in other parts of the world can have the same educational opportunities. They are engaged in another culture. Children are invited into discussion, pictures, and videos during interdisciplinary lessons. An emotional bond is created as they see students just like them year after year. This provides an authentic and even personal learning experience. Science researcher has informed us of the link between emotions, brain-connectivity and memory. Eric Jenson’s book, Teaching with the Brain in Mind provides proof of that. Teacher’s can guide students through a range of higher-level thinking questions like… What shapes a culture? Does technology make a culture better or just different? or How would improve …? All teachers are encouraged to collaborate and share their lessons on the website so all students may benefit. Students and teachers find giving meaningful and become increasingly involved with something they can impact on a personal level and in the person they are impacted themselves. Case in point, our teachers just visited the very children we are helping.
In 2009, students at Stewartsboro Elementary School provided school supplies, desks chairs, fans, and room dividers to a school in La Represa, Dominican Republic. This year the program is expanding and impacting students not only in La Represa but also in the village of Las Brisas. In 2010, Educators visited villages and built relationships with the teachers that they are helping. It was amazing for us to actually see what we bought last year being used in the classroom. We also learned that although we were from different countries teachers share almost all similarities in the culture of teaching. This has laid a foundation for a long term partnership. We are sharing our resources as well as our teaching strategies and classroom training – they are sharing their lives.
Now we are inviting you to join us. Students Change is certainly not perfect. But we are committed to growing and changing as we learn. Consider partnering with us on this journey. Use our materials and help us along the way. You can enhance your students’ learning experience through this program. Everyone involved will see what it is like to truly be in need. Provide the opportunity not just for your students but also for yourselves. Be a part of Students Change.