Klem Rd. School North Students in Service Learning
For the last five years, fifth grade students at Klem Rd. Elementary School North have gotten hands on experience learning about helping others in their community through a fund-raising raffle run by Jaimee Riddell, a fifth grade teacher at the school.
“The first year we did it, we had a child in class who was battling cancer, and we decided we could help by raising some money to donate to Golisano Children’s Hospital. It helped the staff feel like they were supporting the student, and it helped the kids talk about what was going on”. Teachers and staff throughout the school donate experiences, gift baskets, and small prizes, which students and families can buy tickets to win.
Riddell’s fifth grade students are the muscle behind the idea. They work throughout the school to collect raffle tickets, organize prizes, encourage other students and their families to participate, count money, and keep momentum moving behind the whole enterprise.
Riddell reflects that her students learn a lot about participating in an event that benefits their community, and she hears it in their conversation. “Some students might say ‘oh I put in so much money and I didn’t win anything’ but then I hear their friends saying ‘it’s not about whether you won something or not, you got to help other people and that’s what’s important.”
The recipient of the drawing’s funds changes every year, and always provides an opportunity for the class to learn about organizations that serve others in their community. This year’s inspiration was a Klem Rd. student with Down’s syndrome, and the raffle’s funds will be going to Gigi’s Playhouse Rochester, a Down’s syndrome Achievement Center. Supporting their classmate helps students learn about differently abled individuals, and broaden their perspective about what they can do to make a difference in their community.
It doesn’t take much to get involved. Riddell explains that while students may use pocket money to buy tickets, much of their support comes from their work organizing and helping. The same is true for the adults donating the raffle items. While gift cards and sweet treats are popular prizes, the most coveted donations are experiences: a teacher hosting lunch for the winner and two friends, a special craft project in the art room, meeting and snuggling a teacher’s dog, or an afterschool group hangout in the gym between students and a couple adults. Those interpersonal experiences are often more valuable to young people, and cost very little of the adults giving them.
One final thing to note is that fifth graders are the oldest students at Klem Rd. Elementary – the rulers of the roost. Working with this group on service learning sets an example for the entire school’s population, one that children aspire to by the time they get to fifth grade. “The students really look forward to it, they really get into it” says Riddell, “they love making a difference”.