Student Life

Community Engagement

Avenues: The World School emphasizes global awareness and the development of attitudes and skills to make a difference in the world. The community engagement program aims to strengthen future graduates’ commitment to a larger purpose, increase their awareness of real-world challenges and nurture passion in an area of personal interest.

What Engagement Looks Like

We encourage students to explore beyond their “bubbles,” whether socio-economic, cultural or linguistic. Deemphasizing charity, we encourage experiential learning and genuine community connections to further the Avenues mission.

Some of our youngest students may experience awareness of their community by walking across the street to meet students at another school. By first grade, they may begin developing a larger awareness of world issues through classroom read-a-thons connected to academic study of an area of concern.

By the time they reach the Upper Division, students are challenged to show personal initiative. Students participate in their community in some form every year, whether through curricular projects, division-wide community days, clubs, internships, curricular work with their classes and on-site volunteering or independently developed projects, including social innovation and design thinking approaches to solving local and global problems.

Beyond Community Service Hours

By the time they are in ninth grade, students engage and take initiative on their own. This is why we call our program “community engagement,” rather than focusing on just performing a service.

The school actively supports the development of independent enterprise and innovation, always in a larger culture of collaboration. It strongly encourages—but does not require—students to undertake service learning beyond the school’s formal curriculum.

Incorporating three local partnerships that underpin the school’s commitment to developing a compassionate citizenry, the community engagement program similarly encourages problem-solving and collaboration. A partnership model entails not just doing for, but rather doing with—working alongside local businesses in design thinking and social innovation, fostering leadership through internships and co-sponsoring conferences and curricular programs created together.

Uni Project in fall 2015. Photo by Emily Gold.

Uni Project in fall 2015. Photo by Emily Gold.

Our Partners

Our focus on partnerships with community organizations allows us to both give and receive. Our partners—the GO Project, the Hudson Guild and St. Clement’s Food Pantry—become participants in our children’s school community, and we become contributing members of the life of Community Board 4.

We also contribute to or collaborate with many local and city organizations, including:

As well as education entrepreneurs and social innovation organizations such as 4.0 Schools and Schools that Can.

The Role of the Avenues Parent Association

Traditions such as Operation Gratitude bring the entire community together around common service projects. School-wide drives give parents an opportunity to do community work with their children or volunteer to support the drives through the Avenues Parent Association (APA). Through the active collaboration of the APA community engagement coordinator, our aspiration is to coalesce around ongoing partnerships in which the school and its partners can learn from one another.

Our Approach

Innovation, collaboration, personal connections and problem-solving are at the core of the engagement approach.

  • Upper grades Spanish students launched a Monologue Project—interviewing and telling the stories of Hudson Guild seniors at their neighborhood center in Spanish. In addition, our fourth grade immersion Spanish and Mandarin students are developing a grandparent buddy program with older adults at the Chelsea Elliott Center.
  • Avenues students volunteer at the GO Project site on our school campus on Saturdays and also intern with the organization during the summer.
  • Student organizers spearheaded two conferences at Avenues open to the community: Design 4 Innovation and Dismantling Taboos: Speaking Frankly about Educational Inequality.
  • Several Avenues students have embraced the importance of government advocacy by becoming members of Council Member Corey Johnson’s Youth Participatory Budgeting Council. Others have applied to the Young Leaders of Manhattan Youth Council.
  • A working group of students and parents is dedicated to organizing volunteer events at St. Clement’s Food Pantry as well as helping with painting, wall repair, cleanup and even registration and design solutions for food distribution at St. Clement’s.
  • We held our first Family Community Day on April 16, 2016. Families worked together on a number of projects, and older children and parents volunteered at soup kitchens, food pantries, parks and other community partner organizations.
  • A group of Upper Division students, teachers and parents collaborated with Hudson Guild to plan a Community Salsa Dance Party in our school dining hall.
At P.S. 90 in Coney Island.

At P.S. 90 in Coney Island.

Community Engagement in Each Division

EARLY LEARNING CENTER/LOWER DIVISION

Community is a major theme in the classroom work in these divisions. Depending on the grade and teacher, particular projects may be initiated by faculty. Families are encouraged to participate in Operation Gratitude, division-specific projects and book drives. Click here for more on the ELC community engagement and here for Lower Division community engagement.

MIDDLE GRADES PROGRAM (6–8)

Through classroom curriculum, advisories, clubs, hands-on community days and student council initiatives, community engagement is intentionally embedded in school experiences, including in minimester. More on middle grades program community engagement is available here, while specifics about the fall 2015 community days are here.

UPPER GRADES PROGRAM (9–12)

Rather than setting specific community service hours, Avenues students are provided with models of and opportunities for service. Students are challenged to show personal initiative and create their own experiences, from independent volunteering with our partners to a range of internships. These often occur in conjunction with mastery projects, fifth term electives and a schedule that fosters project-based learning.

Learn more about upper grades community engagement, upper grades community day and upper grades student engagement.

CONTACTS

For more information about community engagement, contact Vanessa Rahman at avenuescommunityservice@avenuesapa.org.

For more information about social innovation and design thinking, contact Ivan Cestero at icestero@avenues.org and Katy Garnier at kgarnier@avenues.org.

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