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Think Care Act: Making a Difference, One Project at a Time

Laura Oeschger
The annual fifth grade Think, Care, Act Fair celebrates our students' compassionate participation in the world through student-led service projects. This culminating project in the fifth grade Social, Emotional, and Ethical Development (SEED) curriculum challenges students to discover a cause they are passionate about then create and carry-out a service project to benefit that cause. 
 
Think Care Act: Making a Difference, One Project at a Time
Story originally appeared online in March 2014.

“Big changes come in small packages.” Fifth grader Vanessa Becket ’22 perfectly summarizes a lesson that Shipley wants all of its fifth graders to learn through the Think Care Act (TCA) project—a culmination of their Lower School experience and a capstone of Shipley’s Social, Emotional, and Ethical Development (SEED) program.
 
Part business plan, part service project, the TCA assignment starts with self-discovery. Students explore questions like: Who am I? What are my strengths? What am I passionate about? On the verge of adolescence, the process is developmentally critical to the fifth graders, who identify a blend of performance characteristics (perseverance, self-discipline) and moral characteristics (respect, compassion, integrity), along with personal interests that define who they are.
 
Then, students look outside of themselves into their local communities, the country, and the world to identify and research a problem that they can help solve using their strengths and interests through raising awareness and personal action. The project challenges students to address the issues they identify and create innovative plans that lead to concrete action.
 
The projects are as varied as the students who carry them out. From volunteering at a farm for retired horses and collecting personal care items for a women’s shelter, to raising money for children who need prosthetic limbs by offering dance classes, the collective tapestry of projects boasts a richness of individual talent and passion.
 
Students share their work with their families and the Shipley community at the annual TCA fair, where students’ sense of pride and accomplishment are on full display. “We’re hoping for a transformative experience,” says Dr. Usha Balamore, Shipley’s Assistant Head of Lower School and Director of Character Education. “If it’s meaningful to the students, they rise to a higher level than just another assignment. This has purpose.”

See photos from the 2016 Think, Care, Act Fair:

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The Shipley School is a private, coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. Through our commitment to educational excellence, we develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world.