CEP’s March focus is Principle 5: Providing Opportunities for Moral Action. The following service learning idea was submitted by Tina Sohn, Art Teacher & District Character Leader, Sullivan Primary School a 2010 Nationa School of Character, Sullivan, Missouri . We’d love to hear what your school is doing.

Sullivan Primary School (pre-K through first grade) weaves character into every facet of their day. At such an early age, students are given many opportunities to apply values in everyday discussions and play.

One project that started as a small building service project grew to a district-wide project that now includes every campus in the school district, community businesses, citizens, parents, children, and school staff. The “Bowls for Hunger “soup supper night brings all stakeholders together for an exciting night with donations of goods and services as well as building relationships.

Students serve soup donated by local restaurants and businesses in ceramic bowls the students make in art class. Bread is distributed to those in attendance by student leadership groups from all campuses. Students perform songs of thanks during dinner and then present “gifts of giving” to the organization of choice. Donations raised at the “Bowls for Hunger” event are targeted for whichever cause the whole district student body voted on.

What started as a simple evening has truly been a success. It was “true” service learning that was embedded into the curriculum. Subjects such as math, reading/literature, social studies, and art were incorporated. Students were read the books Stone Soup and The Rag Coat. During class meetings students discussed what it means to be hungry and have wants and needs.

Students brainstormed ways they could help others. They associated the rag coat to a rag quilt, and each student decided to bring a piece of their own clothing to create classroom quilts to give to a homeless shelter. Parent volunteers assembled and sewed the quilts together working hand in hand with the students. Once finished, students gathered at a class meeting, covering with the quilt to experience the warmth, and reflected on their donated piece that now represented a collaborated quilt for a cause.

Students wrote reflections and added illustrations to be bound in a booklet to accompany the quilts for pleasure reading. To symbolically tie our community as one, each visitor received a strand of fabric as they entered the soup supper night and were asked to tie their fabric to the “Community Character Caring Quilt.” The quilt is on display in our Performing Arts Center as a constant reminder to all that together we can make a difference.

Now each year Sullivan has a service learning focus theme. In the past we have had “I Can Help,” “We Give Back,” “We Can Help Make a Difference,” and “Proud to Serve.”

We believe at the Sullivan Primary School that Parents + School + Community can only = Success.