Lessons for all: Learn how to give back and be civically engaged

Second graders on a field trip to the town offices in Shelburne learn about civic engagement. Courtesy photo
Second graders on a field trip to the town offices in Shelburne learn about civic engagement. Courtesy photo

The Renaissance Elementary School at Shelburne Farms values civic and community engagement through service and project-based learning. Teachers model this in their classroom in daily lessons and on field trip experiences for the children in kindergarten through fifth grade. Students in the fourth and fifth grades, under the guidance of Assistant School Director Danielle Harris participated in the Learn, Bake, Share program conducted by Vermont’s own King Arthur Flour company, which is based in Norwich. Through this free program, the students utilized math, science and reading skills as they learned to bake bread as part of a community service effort.

A first lesson in baking was taught at Renaissance, followed by each child being given a complete baking kit with all the ingredients provided by King Arthur Flour to take home. Each student baked two loaves of bread at home, one for their families to enjoy and another to donate. Renaissance School chose local neighbor, Harbor Place, a motel in Shelburne that provides emergency housing for people in need. The fourth and fifth graders donated 20 home-baked loaves of bread that were given to families at Harbor Place. The recipients at Harbor Place enjoyed the freshly-baked homemade bread, made with friendship by local students for their neighbors.

While the fourth and fifth graders were baking bread, the second graders were on a field trip to the town offices in Shelburne, learning about civic engagement. Teacher Kristen Lee took her class to the town hall, where they met with Town Manager Joe Colangelo. They toured the building and learned about voting, the various town departments and some historical dates and records that are important to Shelburne. A highlight was the opportunity to sit in a police car and see an actual voting machine. While it is a long time before these seven-year-olds can vote, they discussed the importance of voting for local, state and national issues.

While at Renaissance, students are encouraged daily by their teachers in stimulating lessons, projects and in the community as they explore, grow and participate in the world around them.

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