Empathy among young people is a popular conversational theme these days. Indeed, educators across the country have noticed a need to teach basic moral values in the classroom. An article by teacher Paul Barnwell in “The Atlantic”, expounds the reasons for that trend, and gives examples of teachers taking lessons outside the classroom and into the community to give students valuable moral insight. Mr. Barnwell notes that while schools say high moral standards are embedded in a rigorous curriculum, it’s rare to see those values in action.
At Shorecrest Preparatory School, in St. Petersburg, Florida, the core values held by the school are actively modeled. The largest single demonstration of our community's commitment to Responsibility, Respect, Integrity, Knowledge and Compassion happens every year at the holiday season. Students, faculty, administrators and parents join together to provide gifts to children in foster care.
The school community partners with the Guardian Ad Litem programs of Pasco and Pinellas Counties to make the season as bright as possible for over 200 children in foster care. For two weeks classroom teachers collect clothes, toys and electronics, all specifically requested by the Guardian ad Litem program. Parents organize and implement the shopping. Students of all ages from PK3-12th grade wrap and tag each present.
Then, on the final morning students deliver the gifts to the gymnasium, where the administration has made this morning a priority. Classroom work is set aside, so that this space can nurture and fulfill the relationships that allow our students to participate in this program. Bikes are assembled, electronics are made ready, and the presents are picked up by the Guardian Ad Litem for each child.
Perhaps the best way to comprehend how our entire community is immersed in this event is to read the thank you note written by the parents who chaired this event for three consecutive years.
We would like to thank you all for a most successful Gift Drive. We were able to purchase all the tablets, laptops, bikes, shoes, warm clothes, uniforms and learning toys requested.
- Thank You… to you and your family who helped make the holidays a little brighter for 250 children!
- Thank You… to the countless volunteers who set up lists on Sign Up Genius and reminded parents!
- Thank You… to the Upper School Guardian ad Litem Club that stood outside with signs promoting the Gift Drive!
- Thank You… to the volunteers who helped with wrapping day in Middle School and shopping/wrapping day in Upper School.
- Thank You… to the parents running around town last week picking up last minute items.
- Thank You… to the elves who built bikes, dollhouses and ride-on toys.
- Thank You… to the volunteers who crawled around on the gym floor checking gifts.
- Thank You… to everyone who helped carry everything to the Guardians' cars.
- Thank You… to all of the volunteer photographers and videographers.
- Thank You… for providing a young man with a laptop so he can do his homework and not share a computer with 6 people.
- Thank You… for the 40 tablets that can help with homework and provide some respite from their situations.
- Thank You… for the over 30 bikes and ride-on toys that provide transportation and exercise.
- Thank You… for the countless warm clothes, shoes, underwear and toys!
- Thank You… from the 11-year-old boy who wanted to have presents to give his 5 siblings.
- Thank You… from the 10- and 14-year-old boys who said it was OK if they didn’t get anything, but wanted uniforms that fit since they were expensive (don’t worry, they received fun gifts also!)
Guardians have hugged us, thanked us, and told us how much this really matters. One Guardian found us on the floor of the Crisp Gym, came over and said, "You don’t know how much this means. These boys have nothing."
We in the Shorecrest Community are grateful to be part of a school that turns its core values into action. You are cordially to visit our campus and see how our core values come to life.