Day of service event provided fun with a shared mission

Students who attended Day of Service.
Group of students missed in whole group photo.

As part of a recent Day of Service event, more than 100 Fairview Elementary School second- and third-grade students trekked a short distance to Noah’s Ark Christian Childcare Center to spend some one-on-one time with the children there.

The time together was spent paired up one-on-one with the 80+ Noah’s Ark children, ages ranging from a few months to five years, to read stories to them. The children also worked together to complete a related coloring page art project, even with the babies, who were able to use their hands to move paint around under a plastic covering on the page.

The joint artwork will be compiled into books that will be kept at Noah’s Ark and Fairview for everyone to see this event in action.

The purpose of this activity was to provide a positive reward for kids for meeting positive behavioral goals, as well as be a fun time and an opportunity to be a leader and role model in the community.

“The teachers at Fairview work with the kids all year long on learning what it means to work as a team, to be a good citizen, and to care about the environment,” said Megan McGuire, Principal at Fairview Elementary. “Our goal is for our students to see the connections they can have in their school and in the community. We want to reinforce that they can individually make a positive impact, but by working as a team, they can make a large collective impact.”

Partnering with Noah’s Ark for this service project was the perfect match for several reasons.

Because the school and childcare center are in close proximity, many students who attend Noah’s Ark then move on to Fairview Elementary when they begin primary school. This connection can further strengthen the sense of pride and ownership in working together.

There is also a common mission and goal. “It is important for our children to take care of, and get involved in, their community,” said Lindsay Cook, Director of Noah’s Ark Christian Childcare Center. “Part of our Christian path is to love and give to others. We can do that right in our own community with local organizations and businesses.”

Children at Noah’s Ark have done various community activities, including visits to local restaurants and other businesses to learn about what they do, making flower arrangements at a local florist and then giving the arrangements to other businesses, and doing a Halloween parade and trick-or-treating to area businesses, to name a few. “Our goal is to build a longstanding and ongoing relationship with others in our community,” said Cook.

This particular project also played into a goal Cook has to instill a passion for reading in the students at Noah’s Ark by getting books into their hands early and often. Having the older students from the elementary school role model reading behavior was an added bonus and helped reinforce that reading is a lifelong skill that is also fun.

Ashley Bonilla, a third-grade teacher at Fairview Elementary, was one of the teachers who was instrumental in planning and carrying out this service project. “It was so great to see how the children interacted and connected,” she said. “It was a way for the elementary students to demonstrate their citizenship – being helpful, caring, having a positive attitude, taking responsibility – all things they learn and earn positive behavior tickets for during the school year. The kids were so excited and felt so proud to be able to be good role models for the younger kids.”

McGuire and Cook agree that this is just the start of what they hope will be a long partnership. They look forward to the children doing more shared projects together to continue to strengthen their sense of teamwork and reinforce connections in the community.

The more familiar the kids are with others in the community, the more apt they are to take care of others and be good stewards of the resources available. They can be leaders and role models to others, no matter how old (or young) they are.

More about how the Day of Service initiative began…

The Day of Service initiative grew out of a reward day Fairview Elementary used to do in which students in all grades earned a year-end carnival if they met team positive behavior goals throughout the year. Over time, the administrators and teachers realized that the students got several similar days each year and so the event was not as meaningful as they wanted it to be.

The Day of Service concept was started two years ago and, while it is still earned based on students in each grade meeting specific positive behavior goals, this event is offered three times per year (once each trimester) and with a focus on service, while still being something fun for the students to do.

There have been many beneficial projects completed since the Day of Service began. Initially limited to doing projects at their building due to COVID-19 restrictions, some of the early projects included painting ceiling tiles with inspirational quotes, weeding and planting a rock garden, painting cabinets in the reading room, and sending cards to community helpers (e.g., firefighters, police officers, etc.), to name a few.

Last year was the official launch of service projects beyond the walls and grounds of the school. Since that time, the students have completed a variety of projects in the community, including cleanup at Rotary Park, older students providing crosswalk safety for Mainstreet Waynesboro events, and caroling in the neighborhood during the holidays.

As you can imagine, some of the projects require various resources to complete (e.g., art supplies, garden supplies and tools, etc.). Both local businesses and parents have generously donated items and money for these projects, for which the staff and students are extremely grateful.

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