Community Engagement & Partnerships

Maret has been a national leader in service learning and community engagement since the program’s inception in 2002. Rooted in Maret’s essential skills, the Community Engagement and Partnerships program aims to empower and prepare students to effect positive, transformative change in their communities. Through a variety of experiential and service-oriented programs, students engage with issues of equity and social justice and develop skills needed for compassionate, respectful, and equitable relationships across difference.

THE PROGRAM

The program provides opportunities for students to learn about the root causes of inequity and the stereotypes they see in their own communities and the larger world. As students explore their own identities within broader social and historical contexts, they learn how to question conventional ways of knowing and being, as well as how to advocate for a better future. The Community Engagement and Partnerships program aspires to develop within our students the skills and passion necessary for a lifetime of community-based action.

Principles of Community Engagement - Overview

All students are involved in service programs throughout their time at Maret. With the school’s support, our teachers and community engagement director develop partnerships in the wider community. Students engage in field work with community experts to deepen their understanding of complex societal issues. 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.

Reciprocity and Responsibility

The organizations with which we partner work with Maret to co-create knowledge and the experience for our students. Students learn to see themselves as members of the greater DC community, who can act as change-makers regardless of their age. As a result, Maret students gain as much as they give through teamwork.

Relevance

At its best, community engagement combines personal experience, intentional reflection, and intellectual growth to promote self-discovery and deepen knowledge. Student investment and ownership are essential to successful service opportunities. Our partnerships underscore the power of learning in community.

Relationships

At every level, Maret’s partnerships 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.

Civic Engagement

Maret students address societal issues and social problems through civic engagement. Open discourse and partnership with communities beyond our 7-acre campus allow students to listen, learn, and grow with the wider community. We aim to increase the skills students need to be engaged, active citizens.

Upper School

LearnServe Fellows Program

This program brings together high school students from across the DC area to learn how to bring sustainable social change to their communities. Over the academic year, students design and launch their own social “ventures” action projects to benefit their schools and communities.

Social Justice Advocacy in the DC Community

Students had a unique opportunity to learn about-- and participatein-- social justice advocacy while working with local community organizers. They spent the entire ISW downtown, working directly with local community organizers to encourage the DC Council to pass one of the following employment- related bills: the Fair Housing and Schedule Bill, the Paid Family Medical Leave Act, and/or the DC for $15 Minimum Wage Ballot Measure. They worked a t

DC Jobs for Justice and/or Jews United for Justice, two organizations that have remarkable records of “wins”; they have successfully convinced the DC City Council to pass minimum wage, paid sick leave, wage theft prevention, and ban the box bills over the last two years.

Black Stories, Present, Past and Future

Students explored the intriguing personal stories of African Americans past and present. Students toured DC’s most fascinating black history monuments including visiting the Reggie Lewis Black History Museum, Mount Vernon and the U Street corridor. They met with African Americanprofessionals who make an impact as journalists, entrepreneurs, lawyers, artists, and scientists.

Hispanic Cultures Citizenship Textbook

Students in 11th 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.

SEED School & PEN/Faulkner

Maret’s world Literature teacher partnered with an English teacher at the SEED School, and together with Elizabeth Gutting at PEN/Faulkner set i[ a series of engagements that would promote readership, conversation, and connection among students from different parts of the city and different socioeconomic backgrounds. Through PEN/Faulkner’s Writers in Schools program, the two classes of students were also able to meet the authors of stories and books they read.

Middle School

5th Grade Program

The 5th grade service learning program is built on actively engaging with the community around us to supplement our study of Earth science and weather. Students learn from dynamic speakers such as meteorologists, NASA scientists, air traffic-controllers, and pilots to understand how the content they are studying in the classroom impacts the real-world around them. Time is taken to reflect on these experiences and appreciate the wealth of knowledge that can be gained from members of our own community. During weekly middle school convocation, fifth-graders summarize their understanding of weather concepts and brief the middle school with a weekly weather prediction and report. In addition, our fifth-graders spend 12 weeks in partnership with a school in another part of the world to work on a solution to a problem that the other school may be facing (i.e. access to clean water, composting, etc….)

6th Grade Program

In the 6th grade, each Thursday afternoon, one or two of our advisee groups will do service at Martha’s Table, a community-based organization or A Wider Circle that both exist to help the poor and homeless of our nation’s capital. Our students will serve on a rotating schedule, and will be sorting food, clothing and kitchen items at Martha’s Table’s pantries or A Wider Circle’s warehouse. On most visits, Maret students may be joined by an equal number of 6th grade students from The Washington School for Girls (WSG). Our students willserve for one hour at our service partner organization and then gather together for reflection and community building activities. The usual time frame is from 10:35am-12:35pm and each student will participate at least 4 times during the school year.

7th Grade Program

In the 7th grade, through our partnership with Rock Creek Conservancy, the 7th grade will form a Stream Team, and will be charged with caring for a significant portion of the trail through Rock Creek Park. Students will conduct water quality testing, pick up trash and debris, and learn about and remove invasive species. 7th graders will work on the Stream Team project by advising group. They will take turns working off campus on Fridays as our schedule allows for an eighty-minute block of time for travel to and from our site. Our joint efforts with the Rock Creek Conservancy will be tied to a global theme of water and will be bolstered by additional activities with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (a long-standing 7th grade tradition) and the 7th grade trip to Mountainside Camp in September.

8th Grade Program

Maret’s 8th graders will partner with students at Mazique Early Childhood Center. In this year-long partnership, Maret students will visit a Mazique classroom every Wednesday morning to work with 3- and 4-year-olds on English and literacy skills. Each Maret student will go on a weekly basis for an entire trimester, partnering with the same Mazique student each time.

Lower School

Gentrification of DC

In fourth grade, students learn about changes in DC’s neighborhoods, and partner with A Wider Circle and Martha’s Table to learn first-hand about the impact of gentrification on communities.

Service Learning

Through service learning, our students and teachers develop relationships in the wider community that deepen and strengthen Maret's overall program. Service learning at Maret challenges the traditional service model with intentional, reciprocal relationships that create challenging and meaningful engagement for our students.

Lower School

Grade 1 – Anacostia Watershed

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.

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Grade 4 – A Wider Circle

In fourth grade students learn about changes in DC’s neighborhoods, and partner with A Wider Circle and Martha’s Table to learn first-hand about the impact of gentrification on communities.

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Middle School

Grade 5 – Retirement Communities

The 5th grade service learning program is built on actively engaging with the community around us to supplement our study of Earth science and weather. Students learn from dynamic speakers such as meteorologists, NASA scientists, air traffic-controllers, and pilots to understand how the content they are studying in the classroom impacts the real-world around them. Time is taken to reflect on these experiences and appreciate the wealth of knowledge that can be gained from members of our own community. During weekly middle school convocation, fifth-graders summarize their understanding of weather concepts and brief the middle school with a weekly weather prediction and report. In addition, our fifth-graders spend 12 weeks in partnership with a school in another part of the world to work on a solution to a problem that the other school may be facing (i.e. access to clean water, composting, etc….)

Grade 6 - A Wider Circle

In 6th grade, advisory groups are paired together in a five week rotation with a focus on homelessness and poverty. Each student travels off campus six times throughout the year. Nativity Women’s Shelter is a low-barrier shelter which provides a home-like environment for women over the age of 18. At the shelter, students help to clean the townhouse, sweeping and disinfecting surfaces, and decorate for any seasonal holidays that coincide with their service. A Wider Circle, the primary service location, is an organization which, among other things, organizes and prepares household goods in dignity-condition for individuals and families transitioning out of homelessness. There, students help check donated items and prepare them for the showroom floor, where clients can choose items for their new homes. The rotations are capped by introduction and reflection classes where students discuss the structural conditions which create the need for these organizations in our city.

Grade 7 - Creek to Bay

In 7th grade, students are in the four classes which comprise the “Creek to Bay” program. On a four week rotation organized by Houses, students study and interact with different elements of the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay watersheds. In “Chesapeake Choices: Watershed and Keystone Species,” students investigate how lifestyle choices affect the local water system, which they investigate using scientific analysis in the “In the Lab: Water Quality and Creek Ecology” class. The other two classes in the program, “Power of Words: Using Writing to Inform and Engage” and “Stream Team: Trash and Invasive Species Removal (in partnership with Rock Creek Conservancy and the National Park Service)”, have students think about their individual and collective impact as citizens with a voice and the ability to improve the quality and condition of the watershed. Additional activities in the program include trips to the Anacostia River and work with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Grade 8 – Mazique Early Childhood Program

Maret’s 8th graders partner with the Edward C. Mazique Parent-Child Learning Center over the course of the year. In the partnership, Maret students work with 3- and 4-year-olds on English and literacy skills for a trimester, reading stories and practicing comprehension exercises. Eighth graders practice the skills of mentorship, partnering with the same Mazique student each time they visit the center.

Upper School

Ninth Grade Hunger and Poverty Program

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.

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Math Buddies

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.

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CARECEN

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.

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Horizons at Maret

Maret is proud to have piloted the now multi-school Horizons program. Started more than a decade ago, Horizons' six-week summer enrichment program and school year Saturdays help a diverse group of K-8 children from low-income families to develop a lifelong interest in learning, advance academic gains over the summer, and improve achievement in school.

Horizons Today

Today, Horizons Greater Washington has expanded from Maret to other schools in the area. In true public/private collaboration, independent schools donate their campus and facilities so that public school students can the program. Maret teachers and student Horizons Assistant Teachers (HATs) are among the Horizons volunteers.

More About Service Learning and Horizons

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Community Partners

Our longstanding partnerships with neighboring organizations are integral to the student and faculty experience at Maret.

Community Service Day

Each fall, the Upper School joins together for Community Service Day. Students and faculty volunteer at local service organizations with a focus on the environment, hunger, literacy, homelessness, and other challenges for individuals in and around the city.


Community Service Day 2017

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend of Service

The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend of Service offers Maret another opportunity to work together for social justice. Maret families are invited to join service projects that celebrate the life of the civil rights leader who continues to inspire compassion, healing, and positive change.

  • Upper School Families joined volunteers from across the city to remove invasive plants in Anacostia Park.
  • Middle School Families organized classrooms and a teacher resource room at the Edward C. Mazique Parent Child Center.
  • Lower School Families gathered on campus to decorate and pack classroom care packages for Martha’s Table Early Childhood Program. Students held a drive for diapers and gently used children’s books leading up to the event.

Intensive Study Week (ISW) Community Service Opportunities

The annual ISW trip to Rocky Mount allows student to help others, work with their hands, learn new skills, and learn about affordable housing by working with Habitat for Humanity.

Martha's Table Soup Project

On the first Monday of each month, students and their families donate and prepare vegetables for use in Martha’s Table’s McKenna’s Wagon program. McKenna’s Wagon consists of a series of vans that travel to parks in Washington DC to serve soup and sandwiches each evening of the year.

Ninth Grade Service Retreat

During this annual overnight, the ninth grade assists people often neglected by our society, specifically the poor, hungry, and homeless, through meaningful volunteer work. Students gather after school travel around the city where they prepare and serve evening meals, tour homeless facilities, and meet and talk with shelter residents. Students return to campus where they hear from speakers from the National Coalition for the Homeless, as well as advocates involved in direct service to homeless and hungry people. Students spend time discussing the causes of poverty and hunger, society’s response to homelessness, and their own feelings about these issues.

Jelleff Field and Recreation Center

Maret completed renovations to the Jelleff Field and Recreation Center in 2010. Under a field-use agreement between Maret School and the DC Department of Parks and Recreation, Maret provided the funds to completely replace the substandard pool, now open to the general public. Maret also funded the installation of permanent lights to allow for extended use of the field by community groups and replaced the grass field with an artificial turf playing field. The newly expanded field is available for use by community groups, DC Stoddert Soccer’s youth soccer program, and Maret School.

Senior Projects Internships

The Senior Project program provides seniors with opportunities to work in the community or to pursue a personal interest in more depth. Community-based internships have included:

  • DC Volunteer Lawyers Project
  • EL Haynes Charter School
  • Latino Student Fund
  • National Park Service
  • Playworks, DC
  • Safe Kids Worldwide
  • Tahirih Justice Center
  • Two Rivers Public Charter School
  • Whitman Walker Health Clinic