Dynamo D-Term Students Work to Improve Their Local Community

“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.

Does your school do something similar?

One thought on “Dynamo D-Term Students Work to Improve Their Local Community

  1. At The Spence School in NYC we are building a similar program for our upper school students. During the 9th grade year the students discuss issues they see in NYC that bother them (homelessness, hunger, stray pets, etc.), and then they do research on the history behind these issues with the help of our librarian. They then learn how non-profit organizations work from our Development Office. In their advisories, they work in pairs to research non-profits in NYC that serve the issue they’ve selected. They make phone calls to the various non-profits to see if they are in need of high school volunteers over the next few years. Once each advisory has settled on a non-profit that needs the services of high school volunteers, they do a formal presentation of their organization to the 9th grade in April. The entire grade then votes on one non-profit with which to partner over the next three years. We are in the pilot year of this program and are building it from scratch with the help of our grade deans, librarians, members of our Development Office, and our Director of Outreach and Public Purpose.

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