iLEAD Spring Meadows Learners Make Personal Connections to Civic Action

Children are increasingly aware of civic issues globally, nationally and in their local communities. In response, facilitators are creating civic engagement opportunities for learners regarding issues they care about.

Recently, a team of facilitators at iLEAD Spring Meadows did just that. For the past few years, kindergarten facilitator Tarah Harding, 2nd grade facilitator Hope Bays and 3rd grade facilitator Jessica Morse conducted school-wide presentations of learning (POLs) focused on Black history. This year, the learning has extended to civic engagement.

Learners researched, organized and synthesized information, and their work covered all core subject areas, Morse said.

“For example, the learners organized facts on a timeline for social studies. This idea of organizing facts transferred to math as they learned about multiplication,” Morse said. “We showed them that once their information was truly organized, they could write an informative paragraph.”

In addition to the foundational facts and information, learners began to extend their learning to apply it to their own lives, according to Harding.

“Some learners had a hard time relating to the information, but they eventually made the connections to things in their world, such as fairness and how to treat one another,” Harding said. “We also read the book The Youngest Marcher and Let the Children March, which exposed the learners to the concept of standing up for what you believe in and standing up for others.”

Morse’s learners began to realize that although they might be young, their individual and collective voices and actions could make a powerful impact. In addition to marches, learners saw other forms of protest, such as sit-ins and boycotts.

Ultimately, Morse said this led to learners thinking about injustices they are passionate about and how they might raise awareness.

“For example, one of my learners named Elliott Jane is passionate about animals and feels that eating meat is wrong. She decided to speak against factory farming,” Morse said. “She used her creativity and included a QR code on her protest sign, hoping to give bystanders more opportunities to engage in this topic.”

As transformational as this may have been for learners and even parents, the facilitators said the project had a profound impact on them as well.

“I feel it’s important that learners understand that their voice, although small, can bring about big change,” Morse said. “This reminded me that we all have the potential and power to address injustices each and every day.”

Harding said, “The learners enjoyed learning about how far we’ve come but also how far we still need to go.”

Director Sarah Hawley was inspired by the work from the learners and facilitators leading up to the day of the march, as well as the march itself. She said it’s important for learners to tell the community what matters to them.

“Our littlest learners have been learning about people who’ve used their voices — even little voices — to impact change,” Hawley said. “Their voices and passions are not all the same. However, each is unique and important.”

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