SERVICE & JUSTICE
The ESLA community is called to care for the most vulnerable among us and to work towards a just world. We, both students and faculty, make this commitment as a school, because it gives integrity and purpose to education and because we believe we will find our joy in doing it. In this commitment, we tend both to personal awareness as well as to developing tools to change systemic problems.
What We Do
Direct service – we participate in person-to-person experiences in which we build relationships with people from different backgrounds and different needs. Through these relationships, we develop empathy and problem-solving skills, and witness the impact of social justice concerns on individual lives.
Research – students learn to gather, analyze, and report information to gain a deeper understanding of complex issues and to make meaningful contributions to places where they serve.
Critical Reflection – we examine issues of power, privilege, and oppression; and question the hidden bias of race, class, and gender.
Advocacy – students become civically engaged by promoting action or public interest on behalf of populations who cannot speak for themselves.
How We Do It
Service-Learning Across the Curriculum – Courses in the Religion and Ethics Department introduce students to the skills they need to carry out the work of service and justice thoughtfully. Ethics and the Moral Imagination (7th Grade) introduces students to critical reflection (see above), the virtues, and storytelling to create both individual and social change. Practicing Justice (8th grade) includes opportunities for direct service and research, as well as reflecting on the role of faith in our pursuit of justice. Our goal is that by 2017, every discipline across the curriculum will offer at least one service-learning unit that incorporates direct service, research, critical reflection, and advocacy in a way that is specific to its subject matter.
Upper School Service and Justice Program – In upper school, students commit a substantial amount of time and energy to direct service. In 9th grade, they are encouraged to explore several opportunities for direct service. In 10th and 11th grades, they are required to apply for and commit to one community or organization for a sustained period of time. Throughout this commitment, students write and reflect on their experiences. These experiences help inform students in the classroom and can inspire ideas for their Capstone.
J-Term and Capstone – In January, Upper School students spend one week in an immersive, experiential learning course that incorporates the issues and practices of service and justice education. In their senior year, students develop their own sustained research project that has value beyond our academic community. Often this research requires an additional internship or experience in direct service, advocacy, and civic participation.