Susan Botts

Grade Level: 
4 and 5
Northhaven Elementary
United States
Why I want my students to be involved in volunteering and service, etc. 
In the words of our Superintendent, Dr. Andrew Melin, “In this accountability era, sometimes it is easy to forget the value of building students of strong character... Our PRIDE (Persistence, Respectfulness, Initiative, Dependability, and Efficiency) initiative is taught to students in all grade levels and reinforced/recognized daily.” Service learning provides the context needed for a meaningful expression of PRIDE.
Tips for infusing philanthropy... 
To build interest and motivate students to participate, we held a kick-off event with games and used the theme of growing grade-level ‘crops’ to challenge grade levels to donate the most food. Each day, we collected different food items and assigned point values to the different foods. Students were excited and proud to contribute their own food donations to help increase the yield of grade-level crops. Goal thermometers gauged their daily progress toward the goal. Each class counted, multiplied and added their points earned daily, and totals we marked on goal thermometers displayed in the front lobby. We also announced totals daily.
I taught this LTG lesson 
Our school-wide service-learning project resulted in the largest donation ever to the local food pantry of 2,400 items. Why were kids so eager to make a difference for hunger? It was partly because of students’ ownership of the PRIDE principles and because classrooms created awareness of the issue of hunger through the Learning to Give lesson "Just Say Know to Hunger" and found ways to connect to math, nutrition, and our themes of citizenship and kindness.
How I adapted the lesson for my learners 
The students brought in food items that doubled the goal we originally set and reached the top of their goal thermometers by the end of the first week. Next time, I will set the goal higher and mark off the goal thermometers in smaller increments. Next year, I will collaborate more with the other teachers to have them take pictures of the service-learning in their own rooms. We could have had photos of students bringing in the food, counting the canned goods and tallying the points. I wish we had captured more pictures of the service-learning in action!
Student Impact 
“The service-learning project was a powerful way to cultivate our schools’ focus traits of citizenship and kindness.” —Susan Botts, coordinator This project "linked school pride with an awareness of the community's needs in ways that were both educationally sound and inspiring!" — former teacher and volunteer at the food pantry “This is the first year we have provided the instructional component, which I feel was a key factor in the students’ generous contributions this year.” — Tonja Brading, Northaven Principal It was great to see them so eager to put their math skills to work - and for such a good cause!" —academic improvement coordinator “We learned that peanut butter is nutritious and has a lot of protein. Also, kids like to eat it, so I wanted to help by bringing peanut butter for our food drive.” — fourth grade student “I think the food drive was really good for the community. It showed that kids can do stuff too and not just adults.” — fifth grade student “Giving to someone else gives you happiness because you’re helping.” — third grade student “I learned that 1 in 5 children in America are hungry. So that makes me think that I could be in school with kids who are hungry. That really makes me want to help.” — fourth grade student “We learned about the consequences of hunger and that it can make it hard to concentrate or do well in school. I want to help so kids don’t have to go through that.” — fourth grade student