For several years, third graders in Kris Beck, Libby Beck, Megan Hollowell and Kelli O'Connell's classes have been encouraged to give back to their community as part of their citizenship units.
"The goal is to teach that volunteering is part of being a responsible citizen," said Kris Beck.
The students get to choose their service project, and then record how it works toward the common good in their community. This year's third graders came up with a variety of ways to help others. Some students baked cookies and other treats for their school's custodians, counselors, and secretaries, as well as local firefighters. Other students picked up garbage, helped set up soccer goals, made dog toys that were given to the Warren County Humane Society, and organized a food drive for the Mason Food Pantry.
Luke Adkins was inspired by the Mason Food Pantry because he felt his project would "help families in our area that need food and other items."
The students were required to plan their projects, and then write reflections about their community service.
"I learned that giving back actually makes YOU feel good, too!" said Eli Natorp as he dropped off the chocolate cookies he baked for Western Row staff.
The goal is to teach that volunteering is part of being a responsible citizen. The students recorded how their service works toward their community's common good. Luke wrote that his project would, "help families in our area that need food and other items." Ryan Rogers felt "proud" after donating to the Mason Food Pantry because he "helped people who are going through a rough time."
Libby Beck explained to her students that there are simple actions, such as being kind and sharing what you learn with others, and then there are bigger actions that make the world better - but the key is that even small steps can make a big difference. "Our students are very compassionate," she said. "They're helpers by nature. We hope that through this real world project we can help to create civic-minded students who see that they can make a difference in their community!"
Empowering students to serve and shape their community is connected to the Mason City School District's leadership bold step
. "By 2020, every student and staff member will practice and demonstrate leadership in an authentic experience based on needs and interests" because district leaders believe that students and staff need to serve and shape their community in purposeful ways in order to make their lives meaningful and their community better.