Service Learning

Service Learning at National Presbyterian School gives students the opportunity to meaningfully engage with the needs of their community, learn more about themselves, develop empathy, practice leadership skills and recognize their shared responsibility to care for others.

Service learning projects are student-directed, age-appropriate, hands-on, and serve our community in meaningful ways. Outside of classroom-based service learning, NPS holds Family Service Saturdays throughout the year, giving all family members the opportunity to serve together. NPS is a recipient of the Center for Spiritual and Ethical Education award for excellence in service learning.

Our service learning projects are a clear manifestation of the School’s Core Values and our Christian identity, embracing through service the virtue of love in action.

Learning in Action

Students Making Hospital Bags for Those in Need

On January 18, students came together with their Buddy classes to serve our community in age-appropriate ways.

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Service Learning Overview


Nursery students study how to treat animals, how to care for pets, and how to help animals without a home. A veterinarian visits class to speak with the children about caring for animals, and a person from the Humane Rescue Alliance talks about what students can do to help animals in their community. The Nursery students collect items, such as newspapers, old towels, and unused pet items, for animals at a local shelter.

How you can help

Make a simple dog toy to donate to a shelter by recycling old tennis balls, shirts, water bottles, and towels.


Pre-K students explore and use a variety of materials for sensory experience and self-expression. Pre-K students learn about fabrics in an exploration of the five senses, and then choose fabrics to create small baby blankets. The Pre-K buddies in 3rd grade use these baby blankets to assemble Comfort Cases for children entering Foster Care.

How you can help

Create No-Sew Fleece Blankets in a variety of sizes for Comfort Cases. Often family shelters appreciate these donations as well.


Kindergarten connects their service project to a study of the School and Church community. The kindergarten students go on a tour of the church buildings led by Rev. Dunfee, and visit with Jill Meek, the NPC director of children’s ministries to learn more about the church. Students then do a service activity where they pick up trash on the campus and make observations about where they found the most trash.

How you can help

Take a trash bag and identify a place near your home where you can help the environment and the community by picking up trash. Observe where the trash is located and share ideas about how it got there and what could help people keep the area cleaner.

Grade 1

1st graders learn about the Tenleytown neighborhood, taking walks in the community to places like the fire station and the library. They learn the history of Tenleytown and create the neighborhood from memory after their walking tours using blocks. Students also consider what responsibilities people have in a neighborhood community. For service learning each 1st grade homeroom visits the IONA Center in Tenleytown, a day center for older adults with cognitive decline.

How you can help

Make a table decoration for the lunch tables at IONA. Simple table decorations can be created from tissue paper and glue.

Make a thank-you card and bring it to your local fire station, police station, or library.

Grade 2

2nd graders study how to be community members who uphold the Core Values. The students identify concerns in the community or classroom, such as safety issues, and ways to resolve these concerns. They also identify community members who promote the welfare and safety of children and families. Students serve their school by learning and teaching others about safety procedures, for example during fire drills. They also do a family project that assesses emergency preparedness in the home.

How you can help

Check your home for emergency preparedness and share the information with your family members.

Create a hygiene kit through World Vision for emergency response after a disaster.

Grade 3

In language arts 3rd graders learn about the purpose and process of letter writing. The students discuss how respect and responsibility are aspects of writing letters, and they also review the five parts of a friendly letter. For Service Learning 3rd graders work with Comfort Cases to assemble items for children entering foster care. Each case includes a letter written by a 3rd grader to the person receiving the case. 3rd graders use their writing skills and empathetic imagination to write friendly letters to the unknown recipient of the case.

How you can help

Share as a family about how writing and receiving letters makes you feel. Identify a person or organization to write a friendly letter of support, appreciation or thanksgiving. Write the letter together as a family. Create No-Sew Fleece Blankets in a variety of sizes for Comfort Cases.

Grade 4

4th graders learn about the variety of purposes of writing. They study expressive and persuasive writing. In math 4th graders learn about data collection and graphing. For Service Learning, 4th graders combine these skills to determine their project each year by “student-voice.” Students brainstorm possible places of service, then write about their top choice. After students present their ideas to the class, the class votes on what project to complete, using data and graphing skills to tally the vote. The teachers and students then design the project after the student input process.

How you can help

Have each member of your family identify a place where they feel most engaged with serving: examples might include: helping animals, the environment, or people without homes. Then identify a way to add your “voice” to each issue, by writing a letter of support, making a phone call to a local representative, or your own idea.

Grade 5

5th graders read What Do Fish Have to Do With Anything by Avi, a short story collection that includes a story about a person who is homeless. Students also explore poetry, learning the mechanics of a poem and creating poems in a variety of forms. In the Service Learning unit, students connect their reading about the experience of a person without a home and poetry through a visit from poets who write for Street Sense, a newspaper that offers opportunities for publication and employment for people experiencing homelessness.

Students also visit Tenleytown Library to learn about community programs to address homelessness. While there, students assemble toiletry kits for people living on the streets, using items they have collected from the NPS community.

How you can help

Make high protein granola bars at home and bring them to Friendship Place.

Purchase a Street Sense publication and read together about issues important to the vendors and writers.

Grade 6

6th graders consider what it means to be a global citizen. Through their morning “WWGO” reports on current global events and their regional studies of the continents of South America, Africa and Asia, 6th graders have a foundation of world geography and global issues. In Service Learning, 6th graders connect their study of emerging needs to learning about service organizations with a global focus, for example, visiting a Doctors Without Borders interactive exhibit or bringing in a speaker from World Vision to share about the experiences of refugees. At Ledo’s Pizza Nights, students raise funds to donate to service organizations. They also study advocacy: how to contact government representatives to support service and justice organizations.

How you can help

Learn about Doctors Without Borders

Make an emerging needs kit to support children through World Visions’ disaster response.

NPS Students Excel at

  • Working in collaboration with the School and local community to experience a fuller definition and understanding of neighbor
  • Reflecting upon, thinking critically and learning from their service experiences
  • Using newly acquired academic skills and knowledge in real-life situations in their own communities
  • Developing and fostering empathy, leadership skills and civic responsibility

Service Learning Highlights

  • Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service
  • Student Council: Community Service Committee
  • Martha’s Table Food Drive
  • Nursing Home Visits
  • Core Cardinals: Student Council Leaders (6)
  • Collecting Sweets for Soldiers

Rev. Jen Dunfee, Chaplain

MDiv, Yale University
AB, Duke University