Second-grade students in teacher Stephanie Chlebowski’s class at Machias Elementary School have been learning the usual reading and math — but, through a variety of service projects, about empathy, too.
Already this school year the students:
– Cooked a lunch to raise $588 for disaster relief in Puerto Rico
– Made cards for hospitalized veterans in Seattle
– Made blankets for hospice and traumatic brain injury patients in Snohomish County
– Assembled dozens of peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches and snacks for Everett Gospel Mission
Some projects they’ve done more than once.
“I want them to know that they can make a difference, even as kids,” Chlebowski told The Herald. “It’s so easy to insulate ourselves from all the bad news, and ways that people are struggling. Life includes hardship, we’re all in it together, and their actions can make a difference in many people’s lives.”
The Puerto Rican fundraiser was inspired in part by a cooking unit at the beginning of the year, when Chlebowski taught students how to make pickles, applesauce and blueberry jam. For the benefit meal, they made arroz con gandules, a Puerto Rican rice dish, and mantecaditos, a cookie.
“A friend of my daughter’s is from Puerto Rico, and we were in contact with the mayor of Catano’s wife,” Chlebowski said.
The project helped introduce lessons about Puerto Rico and hurricanes — and engage the kids in learning them.
“I want them to be compassionate, aware world citizens when they grow up, and it starts now,” Chlebowski said.
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