What’s On Your Plate? Building Character: Lesson 4

Servant Leadership: What’s On Your Plate?

When we begin with the end in mind, we can’t help but think about the servant leaders that will come out of our school, value-able citizens who’ll work with intention to make our world a better place.

But that won’t happen by chance. How do we feed and nurture our learners so that they become leaders with a desire to come to the rescue and help others?

One fairly common way is through a service project like a Food Drive. Every year, the local pantries face times like when their shelves become barren and they need our help restocking them with non-perishable boxed and canned goods. Partnering with a pantry and inviting families to send in a can or two to help feed those who are less fortunate is a pretty simple way to serve while filling a huge need in the community at large.

In addition to this tradition, a great way to engage community partners is to find out what their needs are and actually work together with students to serve while they learn. Let’s take the example of a Knitting Club. After surveying the needs of the community, you find that the local Center for Pregnancy could use some baby hats, a life-saving tool to help warm the heads of the low-birthweight preemies. Round-up some volunteers from your local knitting guild with one phone call (better yet, have the students call!) to help teach your students how to knit. Put an article in the paper about your project and ask for donations of yarn. Integrate the project into your ELA curriculum by encouraging the knitters to write a note to the mom and the baby who’ll get the hat and you’ve got service learning in action. Watch a Knit One, Save One video out of Friendswood, Texas, to see what it looks like when these third graders meet in the morning to knit for a cause.

Ask your students whom they want to help and expect pets to be one of their top choices. Animals depend on us for survival. Partner with the local animal shelter to help your learners become responsible pet owners, understand animal needs, and to donate to help the stray animal population in our area.

Consider these curricular integration ideas for a Pet Project.

1. Find or illustrate different pictures of pets and identify the different needs of the animals.
2. Create an animal care book for an animal they’d like to adopt.
3. Use food brochures to find the cost of pet food. 
4. Write a persuasive letter asking to adopt a pet from the shelter or to an animal trainer asking for their time to train stray animals.
5. Students can chew on dilemmas like this: Jimmy notices that the dog next door is always barking and seems to be hungry, so he sneaks over the fence and lets the dog loose. What would you do if you were Jimmy?
Not only do animals rely on us, but we also rely on them. There are many ways in which an animal can serve, hence the nickname man’s best friend. Trained reading dogs encourage reluctant readers. Police have a K-9 unit. People who have sight impairments use seeing-eye dogs. Horses are being use as therapy animals. Brainstorm ways in which animals work for and with us. What is their responsibility toward us? What is ours toward them?
How do you serve in your character building?