Success for All : Winter 2018 Edition
Focus on Service
Service is one of the pillars of the value system at UCFSD. In preparing our students for success in life and to contribute to society we reflect the values of a community that emphasizes the importance of service and of parents that promote it's importance. The district reinforces those values and provides service opportunities that benefit both the receiver and the giver.
Kindness Near and Far
We are a community committed to our mission of preparing students for success in life and to contribute to society. Service and kindness are necessary components of that mission. Throughout our schools, we see examples of how our students, staff and families form long-term partnerships in kindness with people within our own community, with communities nearby, across our country and around the world.
Support for direct neighbors in need builds strong communities. Between helping families rebuild after fires, rallying around those with health issues, and providing support for critical situations, the UCF community has a history of taking care of its own. Here is a related article on how the community is supporting a teacher (Joanna Johnson) whose sons have extraordinary needs.
Getting involved with LCH means changing lives in our community. From volunteering to donating, each effort of community support goes back to providing direct services to our members. Please contact LeeAnn Riloff, Director of Development, if you are interested in donating to LCH.
While helping people within our community is important, we know that nearby, neighbors in communities like Kennett Square and Philadelphia need ongoing support. Across the district, we have developed long-term relationships with organizations that serve neighbors with significant needs.
Our district office partners with La Communidad Hispana (LCH) in Kennett Square, an organization that serves the needs of low-income families in Southern Chester County. Our office members provide support for fundraisers throughout the year and collect items needed by the organization around the winter holidays.
Patton Middle School’s garden program produces thousands of pounds of produce for the Kennett Food Cupboard (and for the Patton Cafeteria!) every year. Our middle school students are literally feeding the hungry with their efforts.
In addition to these connections formed within and nearby our community, our schools recognize the importance of teaching our students to look beyond our local area to serve the needs of others. This year, Unionville High School partnered with Hardin Jefferson School District (HJ) in Sour Lake Texas, in the aftermath of hurricane Harvey.
Ironically, both principals started their school years with a theme of “Kindness” and they have had plenty of opportunities to show kindness toward each other after such a large scale natural disaster. HJ lost it’s middle school and much of its stored equipment. Our administrators, teachers, coaches and students connected with their peers in HJ and engaged in a variety of activities to help provide hope and tangible support.
SOUR LAKE - Many students at Hardin-Jefferson ISD were hit hard by Harvey, but they are now grateful to strangers from hundreds of miles away. "It's amazing that they came together just for us," says Mason Wheeler, senior at Hardin-Jefferson High School.
The UHS football team shipped an old set of pads to the HJ team, our baseball team is holding a wiffle ball tournament fundraiser to replace equipment, and through the efforts of the students and UCF community over $50,000 in gift cards and cash was distributed to the HJ community. A HJ tradition of holding a Thanksgiving feast was made possible through the generosity of our community (link to the video) - an event that will long be remembered and appreciated by HJ students - a reminder that we all linked together, no matter where we live and that we have much to be thankful for. Thank you cards from the HJ student body line the UHS office walls in an ongoing reminder of the value of kindness now shared between the schools.
At Mitchell, we give our students two gifts. One is roots. The other is wings.
Several of our elementary schools have long term partnerships with Philadelphia area schools. For example, Chadds Ford Elementary partners with S. Weir Mitchell Elementary School. Mitchell Elementary is located in southwest Philadelphia and serves a K-8 student body made up entirely of children from households below the poverty line, with many children struggling with permanent or transitional homelessness. The Chadds Ford Elementary School partnership started with supplying basic needs and has evolved to include a journaling exercise between the first grades and planned video conversations between individual classes. Forming this ongoing class-to-class connection enables students to form a meaningful understanding of the other students’ lives.
Our schools are committed to helping their partners for the long haul, emotionally and materially as we can and as is appropriate. As a result, our children learn important life lessons about empathy and how to help those in need over time. More importantly, they learn to value service to others, strengthening their contributions to society. We are at our best when ideas to help others grow organically and become part of our culture. We celebrate the UCF culture of kindness and the vigor with which our students embrace it.
More Stories of Service from Around the District
The Benefits of Community Service
Beyond the direct benefits to the community, research has shown that teens who engage in community service are more responsible with higher self-esteem and resilience. Volunteering helps the teens gain new skills necessary for the job market such as leadership, communication skills, dependability, time management, and decision making.
Volunteering taps into a teen’s innate desire to be independent, in a productive way. Teenagers are extremely busy with academics, extracurricular activities, sports, and of course their social events! But carving a few hours out of their busy schedules regularly for community service can be therapeutic for them and also better our community on so many levels.
Did You Know...
- Youth who volunteer are more likely to feel connected to their communities and, do better in school, and are less likely to engage in risky behavior (Corporation for National and Community Service, 2005).
- Research has shown that when disengaged youth are involved in quality volunteer opportunities, their level of social trust increases and the likelihood that they will engage in risky behaviors decreases (Flanagan et al, 2005).
- Youth are not only more likely to volunteer if their entire family is involved in the effort, but the shared experience can result in strengthened familial bonds (Corporation for National and Community Service, 2010).
- Students who performed voluntary community service were 19 percent more likely to graduate from college than those who did not (Dávila & Mora, 2007).