Global Citizenship, Service Learning & Stewardship
Town School builds students’ intercultural understanding and character through academic experiences and global and local partnerships. Beginning with an awareness of multiple perspectives, students develop respect, empathy and kindness through authentic inquiry and engagement. Global education, service learning experiences, and projects that relate to sustainability and innovation help Town boys to develop a more expansive understanding of themselves, members of their communities and the world at large.
Town designs a rich global learning curriculum so students learn about their own identities in a broader context, the importance of belonging and including others, and the value of acting as allies and upstanders as well as engaged global citizens. In the 1st grade Kenya unit, students study about the richness of Kenyan culture, music, and storytelling, and they come to understand what life is like for populations who don’t have a reliable or easily accessible clean water supply. With their 5th grade buddies, they engage in a simulated experience of transporting water in the neighborhood in an effort to understand the challenges of having to carry water over a long distance. In a semester-long 6th grade project, math students learn the finances of a small business as they create “companies” by designing their own business plans, sourcing products and executing on a marketing and sales plan. A Global Education Committee comprised of Town faculty members focuses on goals for the global learning program, identifying curricular connections and developing classroom projects.
Service learning is built into a Town School education in numerous ways, connecting the work on empathy and moral courage that takes place throughout the school to students’ lived experience. Our Lower School Service Learning Coordinator works with classroom teachers across grades K-4 to find authentic connections with classroom curricula. Starting in kindergarten, students explore the meaning of community, learning about roles and responsibilities within the school. Building on this foundation, the focus moves outward beyond Town School’s walls. First graders study the water cycle in STEM and, as part of their country studies, consider access to clean water. Last year first graders worked with the SF Recreation and Parks department to help with habitat restoration at the Heron’s Head Park watershed and later in the year became stewards of several neighborhood storm drains with Adopt a Drain SF. As part of their neighborhood studies, the second graders partnered with Refuse Refuse to help keep our sidewalks clean. Third graders developed leadership skills, working with the K1 classrooms at SF Public Montessori. A central piece of the fourth grade curriculum is building empathy through recognizing and appreciating differences and varying perspectives. Last year fourth graders volunteered at the Pomeroy Center, an organization which supports people with disabilities. Reflection is a key element of the service learning experience. Throughout the process, students consider the impact they’re having on our community, their own growth and progress towards meeting their learning goals, and ways they are putting Town’s values into action.
A parent-led service learning committee, the Community Impact Committee, facilitates additional service opportunities for students and their families as well as faculty and staff. Recent initiatives include hosting weekly food and seasonal coat drives for Holy Family Day Home, and creating hygiene kits for Simply the Basics. We host "packing events" at school and invite our families to join in putting together the kits and writing cards for the families who receive them.
Town embraces its responsibility to create a culture of environmental stewardship for all members of the community. Recycling and compost bins can be found in every classroom in addition to the lunch room. The 6th grade leads the Town campus recycling program, and each boy empties the recycling of a classroom or office to which he has been assigned twice per seven-day cycle. This initiative teaches boys about their shared responsibility to the community and the significant impact that results when everyone contributes. Town’s Outdoor Education program teaches Upper School students about fragile ecosystems and environmental ethics such as “leave no trace” through annual overnight trips to wilderness destinations throughout California, as close to home as the Marin Headlands and as far afield as Yosemite.
Students learn about sustainability and the environment through projects at all grade levels. In STEM, kindergartners learn about creating a garden where plants and insects can thrive, developing an understanding of how compost works. Students in 2nd grade investigate food insecurity and waste reduction, learning about inequity in global food access and connecting this to issues of local hunger. They then determine a specific problem to address in their own community such as food waste, and create public service announcements for the whole school to encourage more thoughtful consumption of food. In 3rd grade, boys use their knowledge of thermal properties to creatively engineer a solar oven, learning about sustainable methods and materials. Students in 6th grade use math concepts including graphing, statistics, geometry and measurement, and pre-algebra to design a compact house that could be used to replace homes lost through natural disasters related to climate change. These projects use real-world ideas to increase students’ understanding of curricular concepts. They also equip students with critical thinking skills, awareness of world issues, and a problem-solving mindset, enabling them to contribute productively as future global citizens.