My family has been a part of Charleston Bilingual Academy (CBA) from the beginning, and with my youngest one now joining her three older siblings as a CBA student, I wanted to use my time and giftings to help serve the teachers and students by enhancing their curriculum. One component of CBA’s mission is to instill the love of God into our children and to mold their character by inspiring them to impact the lives around them. So, one aspect of my job as the Student Engagement Facilitator at CBA is to give our students multiple experiences serving others and thinking missionally, all the while connecting to their curriculum.
This year, the 1st graders are partnering with Ms. Nadine. She runs a local thrift store called Recycled Love. She has a passion to serve the hungry and the needy. She uses her thrift store to give low-cost items, free food, and hope to those in the community. By partnering with Ms. Nadine, the students are engaged with Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling, which is a unit of study they will learn in more detail in the spring. This fall, students created colorful banners that were hung up at the Swap and Shop, and extra donated items from the Swap and Shop were then given to her store. Coming up, students will be “Counting Their Blessings” in math class and will be looking for ways in return to bless the local community through Ms. Nadine’s store.
Our 2nd graders were learning about “Schools Around the World” in English class as their first unit of study. Now they have begun to connect with The Children’s World School (TCWS) in Honduras. TCWS is a well-established, K-12 Christian bilingual school in Honduras. Already, our school and TCWS have been writing letters back and forth to each other. We look forward to further connections throughout the year with this school in Honduras as we learn from them and seek to show them God’s love through pen pal relationships, gift giving, and prayer.
This year our 4th graders are planning monthly Seniors Meetings at the local Charleston Farms Community Center. They are so excited to serve this often-overlooked people group. I am meeting with these students regularly as we plan and create each Senior Meeting to include refreshments, games, activities, and Senior Buddy questions. We recently had our first Senior Meeting and it was a joy for both the students and the seniors. It was so beautiful seeing these seniors come in looking tentatively or a little anxious, but then leaving with big smiles on their faces and talking with each other out in the parking lot. Afterwards, I debriefed with the class and I was amazed how much they learned from their Senior Buddies and how in tuned they were to the feelings of these new friends. The 4th graders are studying American History in English class and hope to gain a greater insight from their Senior Buddies as they ask them questions about themselves, American history, government, and faith.
In addition to providing a fun and connecting time for the seniors in the community, the 4th and 3rd graders will also be helping refill the Blessing Box monthly at the Charleston Farms Community Center. The Charleston Farms Community is a very diverse community—in age, ethnicity, language, and economic status. The Blessings Box is donated food for those in need for community members. This is not only another way our students have opportunity to take on the posture of a servant, but it also connects with their science unit—Body Systems and Living Healthy Lives.
As the 5th/6th graders seek to answer the question, “How can we welcome the foreigner?”, they have been collaborating with the local group, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS). They have interviewed some of the staff and newly arrived refugees and immigrants from various countries to answer this question. The students are researching and gathering information to develop Welcome Packets from various cultural backgrounds to be given to and used by LIRS. In the spring, the students will also be partnering with Water Mission International as they explore the layers of the earth and water in their science unit.
In the beginning of the year, I shared with each class how Jesus showed us what it means to have the posture of a servant. Jesus used his eyes to see people hungry, and he gave them food. He used his ears to listen to the needs of the sick, the widow, and the orphan and he healed them, befriended them, and gave them hope. He used his mind to learn from the scriptures and from his elders and then later used his mouth to engage in spiritual and governmental debates with the religious leaders. He used his heart as he humbly washed his disciples’ feet. And through all of this, he was constantly pointing people back to God. We want to take on the posture of a servant too because we serve a Servant King—King Jesus!
CBA’s mission statement says, “In partnership with parents, CBA exists to inspire world changers through Christ-centered, intercultural, immersion-based education.” These kids don’t have to wait until graduation—they are already changing the world around them!
Click here to order your copy of the book Bring it to Life: Christian Education and the Transformative Power of Service-Learning by Lynn E. Swaner and Roger C.S. Erdvig.