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, 15 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: Understanding Community
“Give generously and joyfully to others” In Lower School, the focus is on understanding the diversity of our community and the ways that each of us can use our unique, special gifts to make a difference.
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.
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.
Interdependency and the Environment in Our Neighborhood Community
The focus of the 2nd grade curriculum is on the study of Native American culture and history with a specific emphasis on the ways that native peoples understood their interdependent relationship to the environment. 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 plant tulips in the Fall and a “three sisters” garden in the Spring. 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.
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 and outside of 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.
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: Hunger, Food Justice & Advocacy
“We will serve our neighbors”
The focus of Middle School service learning is Hunger, Food Justice and Advocacy. Each grade works with partners with one of Trinity’s Community Circle partners to explore this theme and actions toward it. Through intellectual and experiential work, students learn about the following critical local and global issues: hunger and homelessness, nutrition and malnutrition, food insecurity, food advocacy and justice.
5th graders partner with Kindergarteners to focus on issues of environmentalism and sustainability. K-5 buddies meet regularly and engage in projects together to make our school more environmentally friendly.
The 6th grade is partnering with The West Side Campaign Against Hunger. They support this neighborhood organization through hands-on work, including the 1,000 turkey challenge, a virtual food drive, and by creating a Middle School service learning curriculum for WSCAH.
The 7th grade is partnering with Advent Church to support their food pantry and the Trinity-Advent monthly Meal Program. The Trinity-Advent monthly Meal Program is part of BOUNTY: Trinity’s Food Donation Program. Since its inception, this program has provided approximately 1,600 meals.
The 8th grade is partnering with Goddard Senior Center and Self Help to lead Trinity’s annual Thanksgiving Dinner. Through this work, 8th graders gain leadership experience in this important Trinity tradition while learning about the specific needs of seniors in our school neighborhood.
Upper School: City as School
“…we will engage the larger communities of city, nation and world of which we are a part”
Upper School students take an entrepreneurial approach to incorporating service learning work as an integral part of their school day. Through Community Circle opportunities, students devote free periods to ongoing, weekly work in our immediate neighborhood community. Currently, almost half of the Upper School student body engages in Community Circle work weekly.
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 IncarcerationCrisis 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.