Empowering students with language-based learning differences
The Siena School Blog
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Welcome to Siena's blog, your source for helpful, cutting-edge resources tailored to teachers, parents, and other advocates in the learning differences community. We are dedicated to providing a wealth of curated knowledge spanning various topics, ranging from dyslexia advocacy and awareness to classroom teaching strategies, heritage month profiles, and social and emotional health.
“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.” —Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is celebrated on Monday January 15th this year, and this provides students and their families with a great chance to give back to their local community on a national day of service.
Below are some options for students to volunteer time in the DC metropolitan area—either for the MLK holiday weekend or at other times this year.
Student Volunteering in the DC Area
- See these events for MLK Day at various Montgomery County parks. Volunteer Arlington and Volunteer Fairfax have a list of opportunities in Northern Virginia. In addition, Montgomery County Parks, Fairfax County Parks, Colvin Run Mill Historic Site, and local parks and recreational facilities often have options for park cleanup and more.
- Montgomery County also has information to register for the annual MLK Day of Service.
- Animal lovers could look into shelters and similar organizations such as Friends of Homeless Animals (Northern Virginia), Animal Welfare League of Montgomery County, Montgomery County Animal Services & Adoption Center, and Humane Rescue Alliance. The Montgomery County Humane Society has opportunities for group service projects to collect donations for animals. (Note: Animal rescue organizations usually require parent or guardian accompaniment for volunteers under 18. See their websites for specifics.)
- Food accessibility organizations such as DC Capital Area Food Bank, Shepherd’s Table, Martha’s Table, Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland, Manna Food Center, and Nourish Now always need volunteers to sort, pack, and distribute food to those experiencing food insecurity.
- Girls on the Run Montgomery County and Northern Virginia have opportunities for junior coaches, race volunteers, and more. Fill out the interest form on their website.
- Shepherd's Table also always needs volunteers to help sort clothing for their Clothing Closet.
- The Greater DC Diaper Bank has opportunities for families to volunteer in their Silver Spring warehouse. (Remember that Siena is also a drop-off location for the Greater DC Diaper Bank, which always needs baby supplies for local families.)
- A Wider Circle has year-round volunteer opportunities that help high school students to earn SSL hours, as well as ongoing opportunities for students ages 7-13. Small Things Matter also has year-round volunteering needs for food distribution, assembling personal hygiene kits, school supply drives, and much more.
Online Resources for Volunteering
Students and parents could also explore these online resources for additional volunteer opportunities in their area:
Siena students have always been dedicated to community service and other kinds of volunteering. Given the many pressing needs of frontline workers, small business owners, and more during the COVID-19 pandemic, Siena’s students have been especially active in the past year.
In the words of one high school student who used his spare time to make 3D printed face shields for frontline workers last year, “I wanted to do my part to help medical professionals who are working to save lives.” Many in our community have felt similarly compelled to do what they can to help others.
Siena Student Volunteers and Community Service
Siena students participate in school–based community service programs while earning service-learning credit through independent work and internships. Students continue to be good citizens and stewards of their communities in various ways:
- In November 2020, one middle schooler prepared food bags for Small Things Matter, and two others cleaned up a stretch of Little Falls Parkway.
- Also in November 2020, Siena families generously donated food (228 pounds of it!) to Nourish Now to help members of our greater community who were experiencing food insecurity during the holiday season. Another food drive is planned for the spring.
- In January 2021, Siena’s Help Club helped raise over $1,000 for the Holy Cross Silver Spring Health Clinic.
- A middle schooler continued Siena’s tradition of volunteering for MLK Day by making chew toys for service dogs.
As part of service learning this school year, Siena students have also helped out many organizations in the DC area, including:
- Anacostia Watershed Society
- Bretton Woods Recreation Center
- Empowering the Ages
- Link Generations
- Montgomery County Board of Elections
- Rockville Weed Warrior Project
- St. Martin of Tours Food Pantry
- Temple Sinai
- A Wider Circle
When submitting their service learning hours, students include a written reflection on these questions:
- What need did your service address?
- How did your action benefit individuals in the community?
- What did you learn about yourself as a result of your actions?
Volunteering and Service Opportunities for Students
Anyone wanting to impact Siena’s local community can explore options through Montgomery County’s volunteer center. Siena is also a drop-off location for DC Diaper Bank, which always needs baby supplies for local families.
Students could further expand their volunteering with these virtual opportunities:
The past year has reaffirmed how important community bonds and service are. While handling their academic and extracurricular responsibilities, Siena students have also maintained close connections to their communities through a wide variety of volunteering and community-building experiences.