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I asked Susan Feibelman, Upper School Director at Greensboro Day School, and Lindsey Sanders, a school social worker at Brightwood Elementary, to discuss the newly established relationship between the two schools.  They both so passionately explained what the program means to both schools…instead of re-writing it, I will include their words below.

Hearing about students fully embracing the idea behind BackPack Beginnings and working to make another student’s life better is not only an amazing experience for students at both schools to have at such impressionable ages, but it is also a good reminder that any of us can make someone’s life better, regardless of age and experience. “Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Greensboro Day School, Susan Feibelman:
“Greensboro Day School has a proud history of giving back to the larger Greensboro community.  However, the majority of our service projects did not effectively make a purposeful connection to the school’s curricula.  So, in the summer of 2014, nine Upper School teachers spent a week exploring strategies we could use to incorporate our school’s commitment to community service with our desire to develop every student’s critical literacy. In other words, we wanted our students to not only perform acts of service, but to also ask thought-provoking questions about the issues that organizations, like BackPack Beginnings, are trying to address.

As we began to think about how to move from theory to practice, in late August, Greensboro Day School’s Division Directors met with Parker White to learn more about BackPack Beginnings. As a result of this exploratory conversation, we then invited the Parents’ Association to join us in the establishment of a partnership with BackPack Beginnings. We believed this partnership could serve an identified need in our larger Greensboro community, but would provide GDS students with the opportunity to engage in a sustained service-learning project that spans all three divisions and our parents.

Once we signed on to adopt a school, Parker provided us with a short list of schools for our consideration.  Again, leaning into our commitment to develop every student’s critical literacy, a group of about 18 students, coming from all three divisions, began to familiarize themselves with several key issues. They included the occurrence of food insecurity in the lives of school-age children in Guilford County; the concept of food deserts in our very own “backyard;” and the demographics of poverty in the county.

The Upper School students (who were also enrolled in Introduction to Sociology) in the group were then given the responsibility of applying what they learned to a study of the seven schools ‘that were up for adoption’. They each researched a school and presented their findings to the middle and lower school students. Once the larger group was satisfied that they had sufficient information to make a decision, the older students turned to the younger members working on the project to decide which school GDS would adopt.

Along the way, the Upper School students presented their research to the sophomore class as a model for developing service projects.  It was amazing how this simple presentation sparked their peers’ interest in the issue of hunger in Guilford County. One palpable outcome has been the overwhelming support amongst our student body to volunteer their time as backpack delivery drivers each week.  Twenty-four students, four parents, and five teachers completed an orientation with Parker at the BackPack Beginnings warehouse on Monday, January 21, 2015 and we are looking forward to making our first delivery to Brightwood Elementary School on January 29.”

Brightwood Elementary, Lindsey Sanders:
“I am thrilled that Greensboro Day and BackPack Beginnings (BPB) are adopting Brightwood Elementary School! We are seated in the heart of Guilford County’s food desert and have one of the highest poverty rates of schools within the Guilford County School System. The majority of our students come from single parent and/or multi-generational homes, most of which are at or below the poverty line.

Many of our parents are unemployed or hold minimum wage jobs. We offer free breakfast and lunch to all of our students each day, as determined through individual family needs assessments at the county level. Currently, we are working with another backpack program; however, the response to having additional support from BPB has been OVERWHELMING! Not only are our parents thrilled, but also our administration and staff recognizes that providing nutritious food to children over the weekend will help keep them healthy and energized, and ready to work on Monday mornings.

I feel that educating children about the importance of eating healthy is just the beginning of developing healthy lifestyles – I hope that the GDS students can model behavior that includes being active, involved, studious, and healthy, so that our children will see the importance of taking care of themselves so that we may, in turn, help take care of others in need.”

Written on 1/28/2015 by Blogger Courtney Murphy