Leadership topic areas from kindergarten through grade six are a fundamental point of agreement for this initiative to take off. We need to come together on this alignment of topics to create connection among ourselves nationwide; to create the most significant and comprehensive momentum, support, and outcomes. The following distribution would provide this necessary base line structure:
This distribution of topics is not arbitrary. It evolved among teachers in my community as they assessed the fit between possible service learning projects, age and curriculum. Non-profits readily adapted to the age groups, parents confirmed the need and value of this engagement in service, and administrators gave full support.
Each grade has a signature project to manage, and takes responsibility for updating all community project information in their topic area, thus creating familiarity with the broader scope of project work in their service area. Older students and community members would communicate with the content related elementary grade when signing up to take on a project/need, and to update project outcomes. A national checklist of outstanding project models would support the community checklist.
This organization of our service work provides a way to:
- Know who is doing what
- See needs that are unaddressed
- Track our community efforts in specific topic areas
- Access outstanding project models
- Work with others on similar projects throughout the country
- Combine our outcomes nationwide
Placing our youngest in the management role for specific topic areas creates:
- A strong foundation in civic engagement
- Teamwork among youth of different ages
- Nationwide student interaction at each grade level
- A real-life, hands-on, purpose driven context for K – 12 academics
- Sustained service involvements in our communities
As middle and high school students engage in more complex project work, they become role models, supporting their younger peers in management roles they once held. These emerging young adults will find themselves in the midst of ongoing personal and community development that connects them with a variety of interpersonal and professional relationships. As topic areas become known nationwide, a common frame of reference for service involvements in every community provides stability in a highly mobile society. We can always find an extensive, well-organized community checklist of projects, with our youth in charge.
Full flexibility resides within this base line structure, allowing for autonomy of choice as well as alignment with others. To agree on a framework of topic areas provides a way to communicate and coordinate – critical elements in service work and social responsibility. With this simple structure, we can move forward with immediacy; we can engage in outstanding project models that have grown from within ourselves – created from the desire to help others, to reach out, to take action and create solutions.