Service Learning

One way the School supports its mission is through the service learning program. Service learning is a teaching and learning strategy that combines the principles of experiential learning with service to the community. The School’s values of compassion, integrity, and responsibility are the driving force behind service learning activities. To this end, the director of service learning coordinates and facilitates opportunities for both SFDS students and their families.

In upper school, classes participate in grade-specific projects and study issues connected to the project. The School designates one day a month so that students can both study the issues related to the service and travel off campus to work at specific sites.

  • 8th graders volunteer at local centers that cater to low-income and homeless seniors:
    • Canon Kipp Senior Center

  • 7th graders volunteer at local centers that fight homelessness and hunger:
    • San Francisco Food Bank, Glide Memorial Church, Episcopal Community Services Shelter

  • 6th graders volunteer in the Presidio, a part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. While there, they remove non-native plant species and replant areas with native plants.
    • Students also use activity time to study native plants and their relationship to healthy ecosystems.

  • 5th graders volunteer to read with lower school students at the Tenderloin Community School.

8th Grade Culminating Trips

Instituted in 2009, the 8th grade service learning trip is a culminating experience for our graduating students. The goals of the trip are:

  • Expose students to life situations different from their own
  • Have students overcome obstacles and form bonds with people from a foreign culture while striving toward a common goal
  • Experience first-hand and discuss issues of economic, ethnic, and cultural diversity in an environment where the students are not in the dominant culture
  • Build a wider perspective through work and travel that will inform the students' future decision making

In 2016, SFDS is partnering with the World Leadership Organization to provide a new culminating experience to our students.  Students will travel to Cochiti, New Mexico, where they will camp near the Kasha Kutuwe Tent Rocks National Monument and work with the Pueblo people.  Pueblo de Cochiti is located 35 miles southeast of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and is the main town in a 54,000 acre Native American reservation that is home to 1,175 people.  By working with and learning from local leaders, students will learn about the cultural, social, economic, and political issues in the Pueblo community.