One of my jobs as your Director of Ethical Education is to facilitate the Monthly Sunday School service projects. Ethical Culture’s motto of “Deed Before Creed” is a simple but impactful philosophy. But how can we make our kids understand WHY we choose to serve?
To tackle this challenge I added something new to Service Sundays, a theme! This year I chose the theme of Gratitude. Prior to executing each monthly service project, I taught the kids a mini-gratitude lesson. Just a quick 5 minutes where students learned to be on the lookout for the 3 components of gratitude. The message is that once we learn to recognize gratitude and what it feels like to be grateful, we can begin to work at practicing gratitude thru our own words and actions. Ultimately, we can pay forward the feeling of gratitude thru our service to others. During my platform talk on March, 17th, I went over the service projects to date and their concurrent gratitude lessons in great detail. And I also discussed the scientific research regarding how gratitude can make you healthier happier and improve the quality and length of your life.
If you were unable to attend the talk, you can access the full video here: Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude
As a culmination to my mini Gratitude lessons for the kids and my platform talk on Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude, I collaborated on an Art of Giving Workshop with Allison Gallagher of Touching Heart. Mrs. Gallagher is the outreach director for this local non-profit organization. She gave us a platform talk about real needs in our community and encouraged us to enable our youth to come up with creative solutions to these social problems. After her talk, everyone got involved in assembling fleece blankets for Fairfax Foster Care. I will post pictures of our finished donations on our Facebook page.
This school year is almost over and we only have 2 Service Sundays left. I've already been thinking about what next years theme will be. And I wondered, "how can I teach our kids to know WHAT makes service effective?" I've decided that next year we will study Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Another motto of Ethical Culture is to "Act so as to bring out the best in others, and therby yourself" But in order to act in a way that impacts the recipient, you must be in tune with what their actual needs are. By studying the pyramid of needs, we can learn to be deliberate in our choices. What is best for us, may not be best for everyone. We can learn to discern the right balance between bringing out the best in another and expecting them to join us on our same level of the need pyramid. Each month we will study one of the 5 levels of need and execute a concurrent service project: physiological needs, safety needs, belonging & love needs, esteem needs and self-actualization. I will be taking Mrs. Gallagher's advice and asking our fearless and intelligent kids to come up creative solutions to social problems in each need category. I look forward to sharing our progress with you.