The 21st Century world in which our children are growing and learning – and in which they will one day work and become productive and thoughtful members of our community – will require them to be agents of change, both aware of and adept at addressing issues of both local and global importance. The goal of the Service Learning Program at Chatham Day School is twofold: to inform our students of these issues and to instill in them a desire to make a positive difference in the world around them. Understanding their responsibilities as individual citizens and members of a community is the critical first step in this undertaking.
At the earliest ages, our Early Childhood and Lower School students learn to “give back” whenever possible – whether that is drawing smiles for the Color-A-Smile program, or collecting gently used shoes for Soles4Souls. As students move through our Lower School years, each grade level focuses on a different area of need in the local community or larger world.
In recent years, Middle & Upper School students have studied topics such as food insecurity and hunger, seniors & the aging process, and disabilities. Student-led initiatives have included an all-school Dance-a-Thon, volunteer trips to the Community FoodBank in Hillside, visits to a senior center, writing pen pal letters, car wash, and several drives to collect supplies for a variety of local charitable organizations including Move for Hunger in Asbury and Market Street Mission in Morristown. We have also hosted a number of speakers to our campus, including ones from the ABLE program at Cheshire Home and the Morristown Soup Kitchen.