By Kim Barnes, Head of Early Childhood
The anticipation was great as children waited for the clock to change to 8:15 and the line of parents and faculty stretched almost out the door. The countdown began -10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1. And… the art gallery was open!
For a mere 100 pennies, each person could purchase a piece of visual art after he/she had been given the full tour of the gallery. Each child could easily explain the art process for each piece he or she had created. Every pre-kindergartner remembered the courtesies of a host – make sure you offer cookies and lemonade, allow your client time to choose a piece, and then help your client count out their payment. Putting your client first, authentic social learning at its best! But, why?
Community Service, of course! ”Pennies to Share to Show You Care” Art Gallery was the first event of the year for pre-kindergarten’s community service project, “Fuzzy Wuzzy Bears to Share.” Early in the year, these children had decided to purchase stuffed bears for the Town of Addison EMS, something each child could easily identify with should a trip to an emergency room be necessary. Identification and relevance is a key to ownership of community service especially when you are four.
Community Service is a strong thread woven throughout this school community. Some projects occur in a day and some go for the length of the school year. Some service is a yearlong commitment, which then requires parents to step in and fill in the summer and holidays. Some projects incorporate more than one grade level. Some projects are impromptu yet meaningful. Few projects are easily forgotten and most hold strong places in our hands, our heads, and our hearts.
Community Service of this caliber requires a dedicated director like Mrs. Rosenberg, who is always searching for new opportunities, holding decision-making conversations with grade-level faculty, providing training sessions and lessons with students and faculty, and networking with the community at large. For the pre-kindergartners’ art show, it took the community to make the art gallery successful.
With a now empty gallery, the pre-kindergarten classrooms are covered with stacks of ten pennies. I’m headed down there now to find out how many bears we will be purchasing. I hope someone asks me where I am headed so I can say, “Community Service, of course!”