Service leadership is an excellent opportunity for your child to take what they have learned in the classroom and apply it in a way that not only makes the subject applicable in the real world, but also does it in a way that promotes meaningful change.
You may be wondering, what exactly is service leadership, and what is the importance of service learning in terms of my childs’ education?
To learn more about the exciting service leadership opportunities at Concordia, we spoke with LeeAnne Lavender, Service Learning Coach at Concordia and co-founder of the Shanghai Service and Sustainability Network, a unique partnership of schools to further promote service learning opportunities in Shanghai.
What is Service Leadership?
According to Lavender, service learning is a teaching framework that helps teachers achieve their goals with their curriculum but do so in a way that shows their students how the subject matter can meet real-world needs at the same time.
From service learning practises being implemented in the classroom, service leadership opportunities arise when students are given the opportunity to apply what they have learned into meaningful changes within the Concordia community, or even more broadly into the world.
“Service leadership in an educational context is so key in terms of modeling what it means to care about the planet, to try and serve other people and to try and serve the world around us,” said Lavender. “We’re equipping them to go out into the world and be those change agents we really hope they can all be.”
Service learning and spiritual learning go hand in hand. They both provide your child the opportunity to ask big, often existential questions and to solve real world problems in an attempt to make the world a better place. Learn more about service learning and spiritual learning at Concordia here.
Lavender spends her time coaching Concordia teachers on how to apply service learning into their classrooms, which often results in creative learning opportunities for students who are then equipped to take what they’ve learned and inspire change.
“I love that service learning gives them the opportunity to see what they’re learning really has the most value when I can take it and I can use it to make something better for someone else, for the planet, for animals or for whatever it might be.”
One of the best ways to showcase how service leadership is incorporated into the curriculum at Concordia is the Global Development course taught by Lavender for grade 11 and 12 students.
“What’s really awesome is we do our entire second semester with projects that are rooted in the UN Sustainable Development Goals but are ways that the students want to apply what they are passionate about with one of the goals to our local context here,” said Lavender.
In this course, students can choose to work alone or in teams and have two semesters to research their service project idea, draft a proposal and implement it, all while being monitored and mentored by Lavender.
“What the students do is often very impressive because they have the time and the whole semester to go really deep into something.”
Here are some examples of the incredible service projects Lavender’s students worked on this past school year:
- A smartphone app for Concordia students to preselect their lunches so cafeteria staff can cut down on food waste and only make food to order
- A wall installation along with educational programming
- An audit and overhaul of Concordia’s current recycling program to find potential improvements in accordance with changes being made in the broader Shanghai community
- A partnership with Concordia’s food suppliers to push for more plant based food options
- A composting system at Concordia to further reduce food waste
The importance of service leadership is that it will teach your child to see past themselves and see how they can help make a difference in their community. As a service leader, your child will take what they’ve learned at Concordia and go on to live a thoughtful and service-centered life as an active global citizen.
“Service learning helps students see that nothing is in a vacuum, that everything is interconnected, and that what they’re doing in the classroom is powerful, if they have the eyes to see how they can take what they're learning and match it to those needs that they see around them.”
At Concordia, we love celebrating the achievements of our students, and service leadership projects are just one avenue where our students showcase their knowledge and talents in a way that makes a difference in our community.