2014 Community Service Award
The 2014 Theme: Addressing Social Justice through Community Service
2014 Award Recipient: St. Agnes Academy - St. Dominic School
Head of School: Ms. Barbara Daush
Directors of Service: Ms. Kathleen Toes-Boccia, Ms. Julia Schuster
St. Agnes Academy - St. Dominic School is a place where Catholic social justice teaching rests on the deeply rooted foundation of the school's Dominican heritage and its commitment to the four pillars of Dominican spirituality: Prayer, Study, Community, and Service.
Beginning even with the early childhood grades and extending through grade 8, each grade at SAA-SDS has both its own local service project and larger projects that unite the entire school in a social justice ministry. These individual projects are developmentally appropriate and range from helping at a local food bank (in earlier grades) to assisting at a Memphis soup kitchen, outreach to a local nursing home, to forming personal relationships with students from a school in a part of the city where fewer advantages are available. Seventh-graders visit Heifer International's Global Challenge Camp, to learn about real-life challenges that may people face in many parts of the world. Eighth-graders participate in an annual "Day of Caring," which sets them up for later designing a plan to improve one of the situations they encountered, which are then implemented. At the macro leve, the philosophical underpinnings of the entire program are held in place by the fact that social justice lessons are woven throughout all curriculum at each grade level.
St. Agnes Academy - St. Dominic School's commitments to the Saruwe Junior School in Selous, Zimbabwe especially stood out—not because of the fact that it's a connection to a school in a faraway country, but precisely because it is an ongoing relationship with the school. SAA-SDS has worked in so many different ways, in so many different grades, to both establish meaningful personal relationships and to provide resources to the school. Students at SAA-SDS provide for the students through donations of both money and materials, and this relationship is backed by a number of initiatives that involve students in meaningful exchanges and opportunities to build relationships. Grade levels are paired and letter, photo, and video exchanges help students get to know one another, and one another's lives and worlds better. Much of this work is guided by a volunteer group of junior high "Global Ambassadors," which plan specific fundraising events to support specific needs at the Saruwe Junior School.
The high school at St. Agnes Academy - St. Dominic School has been recognized on numerous occasions, both locally for students' involvement with the Memphis area community, and nationally. This recognition has been for a range of projects that in all cases "provide good" for others, but in most cases also involve students personally and in meaningful ways with members of the community outside their school. Equally important to the committee, however, are the work even very young students do through the Community Service program at SAA-SDS, and the ways the students have worked to make meaningful connections in the greater Memphis community.
[User Group: Administration, Teachers]
[Grade: Lower, Middle, Upper]
[Community Service / Service Learning]