Community service learning is an important aspect of Nueva's education program, and is woven into curricula through specific service learning days, Middle School Student Council efforts, and Eighth Grade Recital Projects.
Nueva values service learning as an educational tool for many reasons. Research shows service learning benefits children by:
- Cultivating an increased sense of self-efficacy by seeing they can impact real social challenges, problems, and needs.
- Enhancing problem-solving skills, abilities to work in teams, and planning skills.
- Inspiring civic engagement attitudes, skills, and behavior. Many public service leaders speak about how they were nurtured, inspired, and shaped through community service or volunteering.
In Middle School, advisories participate in community service-learning trips about three times a year. Students volunteer in a variety of locations in San Francisco and in the greater Bay Area. Each student advisory decides as a group, which organization or project to support and then volunteers at a particular location. Students have worked at the San Francisco Zoo to restore exhibits, clean, and work in the animal husbandry department, they have worked with Save the Bay to restore wetlands by planting native species, mulching, watering and cleaning up the shoreline, and they've helped at Family Connections by assisting in a San Mateo preschool program for low-income families.
The goals of Community Service Learning days are for children to:
- Feel more comfortable interacting with others in the community.
- Increase their sensitivity on issues such as poverty, aging, environmental responsibility, developmental disability, interdependence of animals and humans, and reduced mobility or other physical impairments.
- Learn more about themselves through service to others.
- Gain a greater understanding of the community in which they live.
The Middle School Student Council also works hard to support service organizations. For example, the council raised funds to support the School Fund, an organization that supports children in developing nations who can't afford to go to school by giving them the education they deserve.
In Eighth Grade Recital Projects, students must include a community service component in their work, whether that entails raising funds for a worthy cause, developing an idea to improve the lives of others, or working directly with people in need.