Service Learning

Too often it seems that the notion of service learning calls to mind charity work that must be done to satisfy a graduation requirement and gain college admission. At Roeper, service learning is a student-centered exploration of the ways in which we can—and should—create a better world and a more just society.
An emphasis on the social-emotional growth of students is essential in the effort of inspiring community engagement for its own sake—not just as a means to an end.

Lower School Stage III Rethought Things Store

Lower School

Meaningful service learning opportunities are integrated into the Lower School curriculum, bringing a piece of our mission statement to life: to engage as a community with compassion for each other and the world.

Each Stage actively researches and participates in projects that allow children to personally make a difference in an age-appropriate manner. From a Stage I preschool field trip to locally purchase books for a Texas school after Hurricane Harvey, to a Stage II toy drive for the Bottomless Toy Chest, or a Stage III general election to determine a social justice issue to tackle as a community, to Stage IV students knitting squares for an entire year to make blankets for Alternatives for Girls, it is student interest that truly determines the course of action for each stage.

Simply put, service is not just something that we do—it defines and anchors us as a community in building empathic, understanding, and compassionate citizens of the world.
“When you experience mercy, you learn things that are hard to learn otherwise. You see things you can't otherwise see; you hear things you can't otherwise hear. You begin to recognize the humanity that resides in each of us." —Bryan Stevenson

Middle & Upper School

Especially significant for a Roeper Middle School student’s social-emotional growth is the development of personal identity in tandem with an appreciation for the perspective of others.

In terms of service learning, this translates into curricular discussions around what it means to be a part of a community and what responsibilities come with that. The community may be the school itself, where every student is given the responsibility for taking care of classroom recyclables. Or, it may be the Detroit metropolitan area, where eighth graders explore during Interdisciplinary Week the structures of segregation and the concept of urban renewal. On a global scale, service learning leads students to other parts of the country or as far as Asia where they participate in experiential courses in global citizenship.

By the time a student reaches the Upper School at Roeper, the complexities and complications of our world and society are well apparent. Here, service learning becomes about turning student passions into avenues for advocacy and agency. Our ninth grade students visit with legislators in Washington DC and gain insight about creating large-scale change. At the same time, students learn both in the classroom and through extracurriculars how to share ideas, maintain civil discourse, work together to toward common goals, and even agree to disagree.

Senior Projects have become a showcase for students who are taking on innovative approaches to macro-problems with a confidence and resilience built from Roeper’s attention to their social and emotional well-being.

Community Partners

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  • Student Shoulder to Shoulder

    Roeper partners with Student Shoulder to Shoulder (SStS), an organization that offers high school summer experiential courses in global citizenship on four continents around the world. Its goal is to inspire and support the next generation as ethical leaders.

    Our students and faculty have traveled to Nepal to help construct schools in rural villages and to increase girls’ access to education, to Tibet to help promote sustainable development, to New Orleans to help restore wetlands, and to Detroit to improve and revitalize the heart of the city.

    Roeper is one of nine schools in the United States that is a member of SStS's International School of Global Citizenship. This gives our students access to SStS programs and an opportunity to gain grassroots experience helping communities build sustainable practices.
This is service learning at Roeper. It is not a box to tick or a tally of hours, but the cultivation of a humanistic orientation toward problem-solving that says we can—and should—create a better world and a more just society.

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