Our Programs
Public Service

K-12 Service Learning

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  • Three Divisions

    Social Impact Curriculum
    Beginning in the Lower School and throughout Trinity’s three divisions, teachers incorporate service learning into their curricula as they fulfill Trinity’s mission to “engage with the city” and “give generously and joyfully to others.” Service work at Trinity focuses on our local neighborhood community and is anchored by our Community Circle Partners, 17 community based organizations within 5 blocks of Trinity. By engaging in classroom discussions, activities, and work with our community, students learn about critical social justice issues: urban poverty and inequality, the elderly, educational inequality, hunger and homelessness, and the differently abled.

Lower School: Contributing to Our Community

“Give generously and joyfully to others”
Trinity Lower Schoolers learn what scholars Joel Westheimer and Joseph Kahne call a personally responsible citizen and how each individual, even at a young age, can have a positive impact on their community. As Trinity’s youngest students begin to develop a lifelong ethic of service, they are provided with diverse opportunities to understand the many facets of communities and how they might become agents of change.

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  • Kindergarten

    Understanding our School Community
    Through a buddy program with the 5th grade, Kindergartners learn about community connection within our school. Through play and literacy-based activities during Middle School workshop periods during the school day, K-5 buddies spend the year together developing friendships and critical reading skills.
  • 1st Grade

    Appreciating our School Community
    The focus of 1st grade service learning is on understanding and appreciating the many facets of our school community. 1st graders spend time in classroom discussions learning about what constitutes a community and asking questions: Who helps our community run effectively? What are the various jobs and roles of members of our community? How we can express appreciation and gratitude for the many members of our community, even those we may not see on a daily basis? Through classroom visits from members of the Lower School administrative staff, building services, security, and food services, 1st graders learn not only about the critical jobs these members of our community do each day, but they also engage in conversations to learn about the outside interests of staff members. As a culminating project, 1st graders create gifts and cards of gratitude and personally deliver them to individual staff members.
  • 2nd Grade

    Interdependency and the Environment in Our Neighborhood Community
    The focus of the 2nd grade curriculum is on the study of interdependence within a community. As part of this study, 2nd graders gain hands-on experiences of interdependency and the environment through work at the West Side Community Garden. This green space, located two blocks Trinity, provides students with the opportunity to get their hands dirty as they rake leaves, compost and plant tulip bulbs in the fall, as well as learn about the history and importance of equitable access to green spaces. While students learn from the garden, they also help in the planting process at this entirely volunteer-run, community garden. Trinity also hosts the annual tulip sorting in the Upper School, where 10,000 tulip bulbs are sorted, and Lower School students observe this work.
  • 3rd Grade

    Understanding Immigration Through our Neighbors
    As part of their study of the history of immigration and its current presence in our community, 3rd graders learn from community members within Trinity who have immigrated to New York from other places. Through these personal connections, 3rd graders come to understand the many nuances and commonalities of the immigrant experience.
  • 4th Grade

    Understanding Difference Through Friendship
    In conjunction with their reading of Wonder and Rules, 4th graders engage in monthly visits with buddies at The Manhattan Children Center, a school for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Through these visits, 4th graders come to a better understanding of disability and difference through friendship. The 4th grade students also serve as the leaders of the Lower School in their role of ushers and readers during weekly Chapel.

Middle School: Equity and Access

“We will live fully in our city”
As Trinity students enter Middle School and begin to develop early leadership skills, they learn what scholars Joel Sestheimer and Joseph Kahne call a participatory citizen, not only bringing in cans for a food drive but learning how they might organize social impact efforts. Building on their knowledge of the many aspects of community and in partnership with the Office of Equity and Inclusion, Middle Schoolers reach beyond school walls and have opportunities to understand inequalities in equity and access in our immediate school neighborhood. A cornerstone of the Middle School program is our robust partnership with the food programs at Advent Church where students have opportunities to assist with the food pantry and monthly sandwich lines. Students also have opportunities to volunteer as homework helpers at the DeHostos Community Center after school program.

Upper School: Becoming a Transformative Citizen

“…we will engage the larger communities of city, nation and world of which we are a part”
The trajectory of K-12 social impact learning at Trinity allows students to build a strong foundation of activism rooted in a lifelong ethic of service. Our students have many opportunities to put ideas into action, and by high school, they have learned not only what it means to be a personally responsible citizen, bringing in cans for a food drive, and what it means to be a participatory citizen, organizing a drive, but, most importantly, they are asking themselves about the systemic, root causes of inequality. Trinity students are what Joel Westheimer and Joseph Kahne call transformative citizens, asking critical questions about how their intellectual lives inform actions for change, seeking to become leaders who address the root causes of social issues locally and globally.

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  • Upper School Curricula

    Upper School faculty across disciplines incorporate service learning in their curricula, connecting course content to genuine human and community needs.  Examples of these courses include: 
    • Advanced Placement Spanish partnership with the West Side Campaign Against Hunger
      • As part of Trinity’s AP Spanish curriculum, students work with the West Side Campaign Against Hunger each month to facilitate Spanish translation, to conduct surveys in Spanish, and to assist clients 
    • The Mass Incarceration Crisis in America
      • This senior level elective offers a deep dive into the history of mass incarceration and connects students to hands-on work to address the current incarceration crisis
    • Advanced Computer Science
      • Advanced computer science students partnered with Dr. Tina Shetty from the Hospital for Special Surgery to create a concussion app to effectively track concussion symptoms and recovery 
    • Self, School and Society 
      • This required 10th grade course allows students to explore personal identity and the purposes of school in the context of society and encourages students to engage in hands-on work within our Community Circle partners
Located on the Upper West Side of New York City, Trinity School is a college preparatory, coeducational independent school for grades K-12. Since 1709, Trinity has provided a world-class education to its students with rigorous academics and outstanding programs in athletics, the arts, peer leadership, and global travel.