Our developmentally appropriate curriculum gives students at every grade level opportunities to experience the joy that comes from relationships benefiting our collective future. As the program develops in the Upper Division, it also encourages students to examine social inequities.
Each grade has its own way of participating in community engagement and of living the Seven Pillars, from kindergartners working with their 8th grade buddies to show caring and respect as they make cards and small gifts for the elderly to Upper School students engaging in projects that promote responsibility for our environment and foster global citizenship.
We have developed trusting relationships with many organizations over the years, including the Aldersly senior community, Head Start campuses in the Canal, and Cedars of Marin, which provides supportive housing and services for developmentally challenged adults. Through classroom discussion, direct interaction, and reflection, our students are encouraged to view their visits and service activities through the lens of relationship. For example, the 2nd graders' discussion before their regular visits with their Aldersly friends help them identify with senior feelings and experiences that are easy for a child to understand. Before and after our 6th graders visit their preschool buddies at Head Start campuses in the Canal, they consider and assess the impact of resources, opportunities, and challenges found in both communities. Upper Division students spend a full day at the Cedars in the fall. The independence and skills of the Cedars residents--who raise animals, grow food, and produce textiles--have taught our community to see beyond their challenges and recognize their abilities.
Philosophy and Principles
Recognizing and responding to the needs of others is integral to our mission as a school. Service supported by learning in and beyond the classroom encourages students to become local and global citizens with compassionate habits of heart and mind. We believe it is important to focus more on fostering relationships than on raising and donating money.
Our unique program is built on firm philosophical and curricular principles:
- Partnering with other organizations establishes authentic relationships grounded in mutual respect.
- Partnership creates opportunities to learn from one another through our differences and varied experiences.
- Interacting with a variety of communities is key in helping us to learn about and understand ourselves, others, and the connections between us.
- The Seven Pillars of Character serve as a guide to establishing genuine, reciprocal, empathetic interactions with our neighbors near and far.
- Service activities are fully supported by reflection, evaluation, and learning in and beyond the classroom.
- Social-emotional learning is integral to our community engagement program because it develops skills for recognizing and responding to the needs of others.
- Lifelong learning is possible through and because of our relationships and our capacity to care and to make a difference in each others' lives.
Fundraising and Philanthropy
While we encourage our students to think beyond fundraising, we recognize that some of our partner organizations are in need of financial support, and throughout the year our community shows its generosity and philanthropic spirit for a variety of causes. Fundraising events also give students the opportunity to learn leadership and organizational skills.
Three events support our rural African partnership: Trivia Night, organized and hosted by Upper Division students for 6th, 7th, and 8th grade families, as well as high school-age alumni; the Jump-a-Thon, open to all ages, a rope-jumping event held during PE class in January; and the Fun Run, which provides ongoing support for the Girls' Scholarship Program, making it possible for girls who would normally stay home to help look after their families from a very young age to instead continue their education.
The 5th grade organizes bake sales and farmers markets to raise money for the orphanage run by Virtue's Children Nepal, with which we have had a relationship for more than a decade.
It is our greatest hope that students will leave Mark Day School with an abiding desire to contribute positively to their world.