Notre Dame High School includes community service learning as part of its graduation outcomes to prepare each young woman to be socially responsible and answer the call to be a person of justice. We constantly strive to create a mutually beneficial program for the community and our students and to connect Notre Dame’s curriculum with service that our students understand. What they learn in the classroom not only highlights areas where social activism would benefit the community, but also prepares them for the task of service. Our program reflects Notre Dame’s mission and the mission of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, teaching our students what they need to know for life - and the importance of giving to the community in which they live.
Student service must be direct service. This means that they are able to directly interact with their target population(s) during their service. For example, one-on-one or group tutoring gives the student the chance to directly interact with children. Helping a woman pick out a professional outfit for a job interview, in order to better her circumstances, gives the student the chance to directly interact with a woman in need. Filing papers or answering phones at an agency that works with women and children does not give the student the chance to directly interact with either women or children.
Community Service Learning Process
At Notre Dame, we utilize the IPARD/C model for service learning, a process by which students:
- Investigate the needs that exist in our community
- Plan for a service experience that will address one of these needs, give them the opportunity to use their skills and gifts in the service of the community, and work within their time and location needs
- Take action through direct service
- Reflect on their service experience - what did they learn about the population they were serving, what did they learn about themselves, and what connections can they make to what they have learned in class
- Demonstrate a more cohesive and holistic understanding of the needs that exist in our community based on both classroom curriculum and the co-curricular experience of direct service
- Celebrate the difference that they have made and will continue to make through their service
Freshmen serve 10 hours with women and children. Activities can include tutoring, teaching, mentoring and providing service at an agency event. Filing or grading papers does not count towards required hours. For a list of recommended freshmen agencies, click here.
Current freshmen are able to complete half of the sophomore required hours over the summer beginning June 1 of their freshman year.
Sophomores provide 15 hours of service with marginalized and vulnerable populations during the school year. Students serve with the elderly, the differently-abled, refugees, migrant workers or veterans. Half of the required hours may be completed in the summer prior to sophomore year. For a list of recommended sophomore agencies, click here.
Juniors complete 20 hours of service at one agency addressing a local issue of the student's choice (i.e. environment, health care/hospital work, immigration, literacy, or poverty). Ten hours may be completed during the summer prior to junior year. Activities include park or beach clean-ups, planting trees, participating in an advocacy campaigns, volunteering at agency events, volunteering at a hospital and serving meals to the poor. For a list of recommended junior agencies, click here.
Every Notre Dame senior is required to participate in the Senior Service Learning Project. Students are strongly encouraged to begin work or complete the project during the summer between junior and senior year.
The project will provide students the opportunity to:
- Gain experience in social activism and advocacy
- Grow in understanding of justice and personal formation as members of a community beyond Notre Dame
- Use talents and knowledge to fullness in service for others
- Become more open to growth and pursuit of leadership
- Understand how one walks with two feet of justice.
- Present their SSLPs in a professional manner at the Young Women's Advocacy Summit.
Each student will go through a process of service and advocacy in the following ways:
- Investigation: Students identify and explain the justice issue being addressed by analyzing the root causes and the major effects of the issue.
- Preparation and Planning: Students reflect on how a strategy for change was developed, describing the agency served and the programming created to serve the community.
- Action: Students share how the project was implemented by evidencing the relationships built and public advocacy created.
- Reflection: Students thoughtfully consider how the service learning allowed them to use the two feet of social justice (direct service and social change).
- Demonstration and Celebration: Students showcase the outcomes achieved at the Young Women's Advocacy Summit. Finally, students address the audience as advocates for change, asking for the audience to participate in responding to the justice issue about which they care.