Boston Cares Recognizes The Boston Green Academy
When asked to describe the community of students and staff who comprise Brighton’s Boston Green Academy (BGA), Chamberlain Segrest readily stated, “we think of each other as a family and I think that is forefront in everything we do- it’s all about building those deeper and more meaningful relationships with students.”
Serving as the Director of Green Programming for over four years, Segrest’s position exemplifies BGA’s commitment to students’ successful development by preparing students to lead in the sustainability of their community as well as in the world through educational opportunities. Programs offered by BGA to help realize this understanding of sustainability include an overnight camping trip for middle/high schoolers as well as learning opportunities with wilderness academies; This year, BGA incorporated an additional element of service learning by partnering with ServiceWorks through Boston Cares.
What is ServiceWorks?
ServiceWorks is a national program powered by Citi Foundation, Points of Light and the Corporation for National and Community Service. Boston Cares serves as the local host site, engaging 16-24 year olds in skill building, volunteering, and success coaching as strategies to help address barriers to youth economic opportunity. Through ServiceWorks, program participants — also known as Service Scholars — gain critical leadership and workplace skills, strengthened networks and community connections, and the opportunity to apply those skills by volunteering and leading their own community service projects.
How Did BGA Partner with ServiceWorks?
Like many schools, BGA has a community service requirement for graduation. Yet, as Segrest conveyed, “we wanted to make it more than a graduation requirement and make it more [in line] with our core work because involvement with and giving back to one’s community is a central part of sustainability on a local level.” ServiceWorks, helped provide the structure and support needed to meld service into an extension of BGA’s curriculum. Elisha, an AmeriCorps VISTA for ServiceWorks structured a learning plan that encapsulated the students’ community service goals cohesively while helping them plan a capstone project to be completed at the end of the term to showcase their cumulative learning and community service efforts.
Three capstone projects were completed at BGA over the course of the term. One cohort ended their service learning with the revitalization of the teacher’s lounge at BGA. The space was painted and encouraging/ positive messages were artistically conveyed in an effort to show teachers how much their support had meant to the students. The second cohort researched and engaged in meaningful discussions about concerns they had seen in their neighborhood. Students then used an art show to display their concerns while simultaneously depicting their dreams for community improvement. Finally, the third cohort revitalized the outdoor area of BGA by focusing their efforts on the environment. Their capstone project was carried out during Global Youth Service Day (4/23/17), a nationally recognized day of service.
Global Youth Service Day
When asked to describe the impact BGA students were able to have in planning and participating in GYSD, Segrest noted that the project was a “culmination for the seniors. They were able to see their planning come to fruition and then see other people from all over Boston come out to support their vision and their school.” GYSD is an annual day of service for Boston Cares, recognizing the impact young people can have on their communities. This year, Boston Cares held its annual GYSD at BGA; Service Scholars from BGA helped plan the projects and participated in the day’s service activities.
ServiceWorks assisted BGA in making community service projects a more integrated aspect of the school’s focus. Specifically, “they were able to able to make it a core part of what we are and build that capacity so we can now use it not just for our seniors but our eleventh, tenth and ninth graders too.” As Segrest further elaborated, partnering with ServiceWorks helped give meaning to the value of community service for the seniors impacted. Other than tailoring the educational experience to fit BGA’s needs and interests, ServiceWorks enabled seniors to “find meaningful community service opportunities in their neighborhood and create meaningful projects at BGA.”