Maret has been a national leader in service learning since program's inception in 2002. Rooted in Maret’s 21st century essential skills, the program emphasizes leadership, collaboration, problem solving, and global citizenship. All students in kindergarten through ninth grades are involved in year-round service learning programs. For students in tenth through twelfth grades, service learning is woven into a wide range of classes, from science to languages to humanities.
Principles of Service Learning
With the School’s support, our teachers and service learning coordinators develop partnerships in the wider community. Through service learning, students engage in fieldwork and community service and work with experts to deepen their understanding of complex societal issues. Throughout their time at Maret, students have multiple opportunities to reflect on their own work and how it relates to broader issues of social justice. Maret’s program challenges the traditional service model with intentional, reciprocal relationships that create challenging and meaningful engagement for our students.
At its best, service learning combines personal experience and intellectual growth to promote self-discovery and deepen knowledge. Student investment and ownership are essential to successful service learning. Our community partnerships underscore the power of learning and the joy of having wonderful ideas.
At every level of Maret's service learning partnerships, we aim to foster rich relationships. Our most successful programs demonstrate long-term relationships among students, educators, and non-profit leaders. These alliances create challenging yet safe spaces for students to cultivate their own community and individual connections, to succeed, to fail, and to develop compassion, empathy, and caring.
For over 35 years, Martha’s Table has worked to support stronger children, stronger families, and stronger communities by increasing access to quality education programs, healthy food, and family supports. For more than 15 years, Maret’s Lower School has worked with Martha's Table's Early Childhood program. Homerooms visit Martha's Table during the school year to work with three-year-old children and develop activities which often relate to their own studies at Maret. Our students apply what they have learned from each visit in order to create future lessons. In addition, the Lower School makes soup for Martha's Table's Kitchen.
Upper school students work hand-in-hand with first graders to construct a shad fish hatchery, monitor water quality of the hatchery, and care for and release shad fry into a local river. As upper school students help first graders to understand water-testing procedures, the younger students become more comfortable with collecting and recording meaningful data. This project allows students who may not feel confident in science to explore what field scientists do on a daily basis, as well as apply the concepts learned in the classroom.
- Grade 5 – Retirement Communities
- Grade 6 – SOME
- Grade 7 – From Creek to Bay
- Grade 8 – Mazique Early Childhood Program
Twenty eighth graders visit a Mazique preschool classroom each Wednesday. Maret students partner one-on-one with Mazique students to work on literacy, English, and developmental skills. The eighth graders are responsible for delivering a carefully constructed curriculum designed by Mazique teachers for this partnership.
- Grade 9 - Hunger and Poverty Program
- Math Buddies - PreCal students and Lower Schoolers
- Grade 11 - CARECEN - Citizenship Textbook Project
Ninth grade World History includes a service-learning component focused on hunger. Students study hunger- related issues on both local and international levels while participating in service activities. The topic of hunger is integrated in their coursework; students consider hunger as a force, a weapon, and a consequence throughout world history.
During a two-day retreat, students prepare and serve evening meals at DC Central Kitchen, spend the night in homeless facilities, speak with shelter residents, and assemble toiletry kits. They also hear speakers from the National Coalition for the Homeless and other advocates involved in service to homeless and hungry people. The grade also raises money to support youth hunger programs at Hope for Children in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Finally, teams of ninth graders partner with experts working in field which address core issues related to poverty and hunger such as living wage, affordable housing, mental health, substance addition and literacy, to develop advocacy projects.
PreCalculus students teach mathematical skills and concepts and serve as role models for lower school students, while gaining a greater appreciation and understanding of math. Both the younger and older students benefit from the relationships and improved math confidence from working with their partners all year.
Students in eleventh grade Spanish first observe how adult, low-literacy Spanish speakers prepare to take their citizenship exam and then use their observations to help guide their work creating a new Spanish-edition of a textbook for the class. CARECEN reached out to Maret to partners around this project as there are very few preparation materials to help adults who qualify to take their citizenship exam in Spanish and who have low levels of formal education.