By Brent Locke, Interim Dean of Students
“Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a
difference. And we have a choice: What sort of difference do we want to make?”-Jane Goodall
Langley students impress me every day with their compassion for helping others both at school and within their community. By making acts of kindness both big and small a part of their daily routine, they make this community very special. Every day, I witness the simple, unprompted, thank yous our students give faculty after a class, a practice, an assembly, you name it. Langley students make treating others with kindness and respect a way of doing business.
While Langley students of all ages participate in a variety of service projects throughout the year, we launched Langley’s first-ever “Month of Service” this February to help raise awareness of the many ways students can help others on a daily basis. As the month progresses, I am hoping to harness the collective energy and goodwill our students exhibit by developing their understanding of service and the power of collective impact. Current educational research directly points to the immense benefits to students of participating in service learning. “Students benefit academically, socially, and emotionally; develop skills; and may come to appreciate the value of civic responsibility,” writes service learning expert Cathryn Kaye.
Developing a sense of empathy in adolescents, as they grapple with who they are and their place in the world, gives them powerful advantages in critical-thinking skills and awareness. Dealing with real-life issues, such as hunger and how to solve the overwhelmingly difficult hunger problem that exists within our own greater community, forces our students to see the perspective of others and expand their own problem-solving capacity. Further, students gain a deeper sense of gratitude and fulfillment of self when doing service projects.
As Langley constantly evaluates and improves our program and curriculum offerings for students, we have seen the overwhelming positive effects of collective impact that occur when our community works toward a common good together. For instance, nearly 30 people donated blood to support the American Red Cross blood drive we held on campus last week, donation boxes for the Capital Area Food Bank are already bursting at the seams, and best of all, students are learning the significance of our core values together as a community.
Langley students have embraced service and what it means to them in an inspiring way at school. At the end of the day, though, there is no greater thing you can do with your child than to continue these conversations about service with them at home. There are an abundance of opportunities to get involved within the community to further emphasize the impact and necessity of service in our everyday lives. If you are interested in volunteering as a family, I recommend you visit www.volunteermatch.org which lists a number of organizations that could use your help.
Impressive. However, as a parent of three children who attended the school when it was called Langley Cooperative, it does not go unnoticed that the giving is in form of “things” not of oneself.
The most admirable lesson I have seen and admire about Langley is it complete commitment to teach the kids there that there is something in life far greater than simply being a good student and having the opportunity to be a great success in life. It is caring quietly about the many needs of many people who are in such need and who have little opportunity to survive without intervention by those who can help for the right reasons. I once again say thanks to the Langley School for all it does to be certain that its students understand the lessons taught there so they are volunteers to help others for a lifetime. They become aware of this need, hence awareness leads to thoughtfulness and some action, one hopes, The rest is up to them and those who raise them. Thanks, from a proud grandfather of 3 of your students who admires what Langley does for all of its students. Your staff and teachers are indeed something special, in my opinion.
As a parent of a student at Langley in 1952 I can confirm that the spirit of Langley has been there for generations. My son, John Weyl, was the smallest member of his third grade class, when he reported the following: John Clark (one of the biggest 9 year olds i have ever known) is a really nice guy. When he knocks you down flat, he helps you get up and asks if you are ok. That’s just the way Langley was, and I am happy to think that it still is. John is still one of the good friends we have made through our Langley experience. Keep the spirit there!
Nancy (Weyl) Bradley