“D-Term is an experiential, interdisciplinary service-learning project on which the entire 8th grade works from August through December,” explained Miriam Murtuza, Ph.D., Middle School English instructor. “The project has three key components: learning, doing and sharing.”
The learning component of D-Term requires students to examine issues affecting our community. “This year, each 8th grader researched a specific problem and an organization that addresses that problem,” Murtuza said. “After students identified a service organization that interested them, they created a brochure highlighting that organization and sent it to the organizations they profiled. A number of students received letters back, thanking them for the brochures they created.”
Additionally, as part of D-Term’s educational component, representatives from nine different local charities and several St. Stephen’s students and faculty members spoke at Middle School Chapel during the D-Term Speaker Series.
The “doing” component of D-Term involved sending groups of students into the community for hands-on volunteer work with local nonprofit organizations. Their service projects included painting meeting spaces at Austin Pets Alive!, visiting with residents at Monte Siesta Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, reaching out to homeless people through Mobile Loaves & Fishes, helping to restore Westcave Nature Preserve, and organizing food pantry donations at Caritas of Austin, among others.
D-Term culminated with the 8th graders reflecting on their experiences and sharing what they learned with the rest of the school community. For this capstone event, the students made Pecha Kucha presentations in the Chapel to talk about the many local service organizations working to improve our community.