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.
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:
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.
Innovation, collaboration, personal connections and problem-solving are at the core of the engagement approach.
Community Engagement in Each 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.
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.
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.
For more information about community engagement, contact Vanessa Rahman at avenuescommunityservice@
December 13, 2017
Our final project for the "Dating and Meeting People" unit was to recreate a Chinese dating show in a comedic and non-gendered way. Each student had to create several videos describing varying facets of themselves and interview before the panel of possible matches—the other students.
December 8, 2017
Yayoi Kusama Festival of Life show was such a special experience for our pre-K students as they wandered through her “infinity rooms.” The first room in the show is an immersive experience for everyone who visits, and our 4 and 5-year-olds really seemed to connect with it.
December 5, 2017
Last week, having almost completed all high school math curriculum, a group of 12th graders set foot to find beauty outside the classroom. This time, they looked for patterns not in a sequence of math problems, but ones hidden in the works of artists. As a prelude to their yearlong math-art project, students visited galleries in Chelsea. One of the stops was home to works by artist Ruth Asawa.
December 1, 2017
In 5th grade, students take a weekly one-hour class called Fab Five. The Fab Five classes consist of Drama, Journalism, Public Speaking, Creative Computing and Wellness. In the Creative Computation class, students learned to build a computer from scratch.
November 29, 2017
We asked the kids to share what they know about emotions, and then generated a list of all the feelings we know. One child made a quick connection and said, “Hey! Emojis, emotions. They’re like the same thing!” We used this observation to help us draw facial expressions for our own class emojis and then thought about how and why we feel the ways we do.