I want to finish my thoughts to you about the benefits of volunteering. I first wrote to you explaining why you are required to volunteer. Next, I touched upon how you can use your community service experience to gain a larger worldview, become a more socially and intrinsically sensitive human being and then I concluded with the thought that (in my opinion) service to others can really end up being service to you as well.
So now I ask myself, "how can I inspire my students to volunteer....beyond what is required of them"? It really doesn't take long to rack up 30 hours of community service. I gave out 23 hours to a few of you for helping me in our community garden project. So as your teacher, (an encourager of students) how can I empower you to make service to your community an embedded character trait that will stay with you forever, and a trait that you will pass on to your children someday?
I have contemplated this for a few days. I approach my conclusions from my frame of reference as a mother and as a teacher. So I made a list...(mom's and teachers love lists!) of ways I can help empower all of you to become altruistic human beings. Here are ways that I can help you next year!
1. Lead by example. Absolute number one way to teach! Actions teach louder than words. The phrase, "do as I say not as I do" never works as a mother or as a teacher. I feel that I am a more respected teacher because you see my passion for art. I recall Rousseau saying to me last year in class, "Ms. B., you are all art". I took that as a huge compliment. My passion for what I teach caused you guys to listen to me and respect me. So my life of service can be an inspiration to you as well.
2. Involve my classes in service so that you can see that we can make a difference. Our garden project last year is a perfect example. It started with just a few of you coming in to paint at lunch and after school, then it grew. Of course once everyone saw what a beautiful fun project it was, everyone wanted to participate. So, I learned a huge lesson: it is up to me as your teacher to come up with ways I can involve you with service projects so that I can build up your confidence and create in you a desire to participate.
3. I can take the time to assist you with finding the 'right fit' for your community service. There are so many internet resources out there where you can see lists of needs in every community across the globe and then sign up to help. I am working on this over the summer so that I can connect art and community service for my classes. In the past, I sent my students' artwork to nursing homes, hospitals etc...But now that I am teaching older students, I would like to see us go out into the community and assist with conducting art projects at hospitals and with the elderly, possibly even homeless shelters that have a population of children who have nothing to do there in the evenings. We can also volunteer to paint murals in public places. I spoke to Broward County's Juvenile Detention Center and they need inspirational murals painted in the center...perfect project for all of us, including me!
4. I can encourage you...I know that sounds simple, but really it is huge. Teachers are just as much, encouragers as they are dispensers of information/knowledge. When I started running I could barely run a mile. My friend in NYC who inspired me to start running would encourage me to not quit."Keep going, don't quit, you can do it!" he would say! Soon, I was not only increasing my speed but also my distance. Now I run on my own. I promise to encourage all of you next year with your service!
5. I can give you examples of kids who made a difference! This always inspires me. There is nothing greater than having someone to look up to as a role model. Someone your age in your situation who was able to do great things through service to others. I will promise to periodically present to you examples of teenagers who made a difference in the world by simply volunteering. I am researching all of this during the summer.
I have such great hopes for all of you. Not only to inspire you to appreciate art and culture but to become great human beings that live up to their potential in life. I see great potential in all of you. I tell you DAILY all the great qualities that I see in you. I want to touch your life in a way that when you look back at the times that I was your teacher, you think to yourself, "I am a better person because I had Ms. B. for a teacher'". If that happens only once, then my life and career had meaning.
Have a great day tigers. I am rooting for you in life! Ms. B.