In Our Words

Student Leadership Through Service
Student Leadership Through Service
by Sarah Urquhart, Science teacher and Secondary Service Learning Coordinator

One of my favorite responsibilities at YIS is that of staff advisor for the Student Service Committee (SSC). The SSC consists of representatives from service groups across elementary, middle and high school with the mandate to "develop, support, encourage and evaluate effective service learning experiences for YIS students." I am always pleasantly surprised with the vibrant minds and smiles that greet me at our morning meetings. SSC members come ready to share stories of service successes and challenges. Days that start with SSC meetings easily become my most enjoyable because the inspiration from this type of student leadership endures even after the meetings wrap-up.

Service Learning is leadership put into practice, a key component of the Global Citizen Diploma. Leaders initiate action, motivate and influence others and create change within their communities. At YIS, our Service Learning program includes grade-level service partnerships up to grade 8 in addition to several extra-curricular service activities. SSC member and middle school student, Truitt, shares the following thought: "I think that one of the main roles of a service learner is to take initiative, whether that's in speaking up for your service group's cause, or even cooking with your friends down at the Chiku Center." Another member and high school student, Krysta, adds, "Service leadership can include everything from planning & leading meetings to organizing events. We need to think like teachers - to inspire each member in the group as well as delegate."

Student Service Committee members engage with service learning within their own diverse groups while also acting as representatives to bridge communication and foster cohesive understanding of effective service learning. Student Anna shares that "being an SSC representative is a form of leadership in itself. You are taking on the responsibility of relaying important information. The ability to speak on behalf of your service group during morning discussions and support the values and actions of your group is also a form of leadership. We make time to be available to help others with their own service groups, and in turn, teach them how to be leaders."

By acting as leaders to new and well-established service groups, the representatives have helped shape the YIS service learning program. This year, the committee will once again host Service Week in February to promote and share their groups' successes. Additionally, they will plan and facilitate the annual Service Leadership retreat, which will host 50+ YIS students from grades 4 -12 to inspire and guide future leaders.

To learn more about the Service Learning program at YIS, please join the coordinators and SSC members for a Parent Coffee Morning on Tuesday, October 2nd from 10:00am-11:00am in the Loft. We look forward to telling you more then.

This article is the first in a series documenting the grade-specific and group activities of our service program.