Service Learning in School

Students are encouraged to become informed and engaged global citizens. The morals and values of tikkun olam/repairing the world are reflected in classroom discussions of history, literature and current events and in each grade’s service learning project.  

Our service learning program fulfills a key component of our mission: BUILD COMMUNITY. Social action at Senesh broadens the lens through which our students see and connect with the world.  They become an active part of their community and take on individual and collaborative responsibilities to make a positive impact in the world.

Each grade is assigned a year-long, age-appropriate social action theme. Themes are integrated into different areas of the curriculum and students have many opportunities to participate in related service learning projects at school and in our community.  An important component of the learning is relating classroom text study and Jewish values to service learning experiences, and for students to reflect and share their impressions with teachers and peers.  

Kindergarten – Hannah Senesh Garden (Sh’mirat haAdamah- Taking Care of the Earth)

Every Friday afternoon in the fall and spring Kindergarteners can be found working in our school garden. They also visit and care for our local park and participate in projects to keep it clean, healthy and beautiful.  

First Grade – Hannah Senesh Tree Care (Sh’mirat haAdamah- Taking Care  of the Earth)

First Grade is responsible for nurturing the trees in front of our school. The first grade service learning curriculum is taught in tandem with the science curriculum as students take a deep dive into the study of trees and taking care of the environment.

Second Grade – Cobble Hill Health Center (Bikkur Cholim- Visiting the Sick)

Several times a year, the Second Grade’s voices fill the Cobble Hill Health Center with song. Students learn how to engage residents in discussions and reflect upon the importance of visiting the elderly.

“Your second graders lit up their day and were the best kids who have ever visited the residents at Cobble Hill.  They were comfortable and genuinely eager to interact with our seniors.” Louise Dueno Director of Therapeutic Recreation, Cobble Hill Health Center

Third Grade – Food Justice (Kol dichfin yeitei v’yechul/Let all who are hungry come in and eat)

Third Graders begin the year learning about where food comes from.  They create food maps and visit a local urban farm. In the winter the curriculum shifts to a focus on hunger. Our students may help coordinate a winter can drive or visit a soup kitchen.

Fourth and Fifth Grades – Brooklyn Autism Center (Kavod L’Zolat- Respecting the Other)

Fourth and Fifth Graders visit the Brooklyn Autism Center in downtown Brooklyn three times a year. Students from BAC also visit our fourth and fifth grade classrooms weekly for a reverse inclusion program. Over the course of two years our students deepen their sense of compassion and understanding for what it means to live with a disability like autism through the development of their close relationships with the students of BAC.

A fifth grader shared what she learned from visiting the Brooklyn Autism Center: “The kids with autism are not so different. Our visits help them have friends who are different and not just inside their community.”

Sixth Grade – Sustainability (Shomrei Adamah: Becoming Guardians of the Earth)

Sixth Graders begin the school year with a class trip to Teva, a nature retreat inspiring healthier and more sustainable communities in the Jewish world. The students continue to learn about and contribute to a sustainable environment through visits to local, urban farms and their work with Repair the World, an organization that inspires American Jews and their communities to help those in need.  They put their knowledge to work by caring for our school compost bin.

Seventh Grade – Literacy (v’shinantem l’vanecha/Teach your Children)

Our Seventh Graders enrich the literacy skills of students at Brooklyn Landmark in Bed-Stuy by reading and playing with them. They also learn about literacy by preparing for a book drive at the beginning of the year. 

Eighth Grade – Self Help (v’hadarta pnei zaken/Brightening the Faces of the Elderly)

Eighth Graders help serve lunch to and talk with participants in Self Help, an organization dedicated to providing a social outlet for elderly survivors of the Holocaust.