A pillar of our school’s mission is to educate students for lives of service. Our community believes that an essential outcome of St. Margaret’s education is that students and graduates feel the compassion, responsibility and calling to serve others and be active and contributing citizens within their communities and the world.
Our Episcopal identity guides our service learning program that aims to create understanding of community issues and challenges, engender empathy for others, nurture deeper connections and engagement, build cultural competency and life skills, and begins with developmentally-appropriate activities in the Early Childhood School and builds through the Upper School years.
Service learning at St. Margaret's is experiential and requires students to get proximate to the needs in the community they want to serve to understand real versus perceived needs. Often service learning is tied to the content of our academic curriculum, making the service even more relevant and deepening the learning experience in a real setting. Students have leveraged engineering skills to design and produce mechanical prosthetic hands for children, traveled to the central coast of California to engage in drought reforestation actions as part of an AP environmental science, interviewed veterans and produced historical tributes in grade 8 U.S. History, and organized hands-on relief efforts for those impacted by natural disasters as an extension of Model U.N. involvement among many other opportunities to learn and serve.
We emphasize and model the importance of service by purposefully taking time in the school day within all divisions and as an all-school community for service learning projects, rather than require students to count service hours accumulated after school or on weekends. St. Margaret’s has formed long-term partnerships with local non-profit organizations and leverages these sustained relationships to further their missions within the communities they serve, and to provide powerful learning experiences for our students. Partner organizations include Family Assistance Ministries, The Ecology Center, Operation Help A Hero and the Camp Pendleton Marine Base, Padres Unidos, Second Harvest Food Bank, The Friendship Shelter and Welcome Inn.
The lessons of these kinds of hands-on service experiences leave students humbled, motivated and with new understanding of societal issues and inequities, underlining, systemic causes, and deep personal connections to the rewards of investing in and giving back to the community, making an impact, and yes, a difference.
As our students graduate, they are keenly aware of the global and local needs that face our communities, and feel a sense of agency, ability and responsibility to take action. St. Margaret’s graduates have gone on to stellar involvement with Teach for America, Habitat for Humanity, Global Works, and other organizations that catalyze service in communities near and far. We understand that these great things all stem from the importance of small things; developing understanding, nurturing compassion, and deepening curiosity. Students who think, care; and students who care, do something.