Social responsibility is a cornerstone of our charter, so it’s no surprise that Compass School kids are agents of social change by age 9. Beginning in the Explorer step (K-1st grade,) the youngest Compass students are given the opportunity to do good work by picking apples for the food pantry and learn to raise and donate money to help homeless animals. Having a project-based curriculum means that the fistfuls of change earned at home doing chores are eagerly sorted, counted and graphed into charts during math class while accounts of these good works are written in journals and told around the rug at circle time. By taking the time to teach the why and the how and letting the students examine problems and develop meaningful solutions, we are producing critical thinkers who are equipped to REALLY change the world. (Can you even imagine what interesting adults they will be some day?)
By the time our budding activists reach the Discoverer level (3rd-4th grade,) they are ripe with enthusiasm and ready to take on the Citizens Create Change project. After choosing a social problem of their own interest, each student independently researches, identifies ways to help, executes and finally creates a project representation which is revealed to the class and our community at a project share. During this time, creating change is reinforced at school as the students work collectively to raise money and awareness about hunger in our community. This is one of our school’s finest hours and a powerful turning point that lays the foundation for independent work in the middle school years.
In 2016, our Discoverers were the grateful recipients of a Rhode Island Foundation Spark Grant to support the work on their Citizens Create Change social responsibility project. These flexible grants are awarded to third grade classroom teachers with innovative ideas to “spark” a love of learning in their students. In this case, the money was used to support the Hunger Bowl, an event that raised money for the RI Community Food Bank and the Johnnycake Center.