How We Teach Social Issues and Goodness

Colloquium for the Common Good is an opportunity for students to engage in deep thinking around some of the most challenging and important social issues of our day. 

As an Episcopal Church school, St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes believes that we need to examine the way that “goodness”—key to the School’s mission—is manifested outside our campus. That is why we have a special day of learning at our Upper School the week of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. 

Chris Newman - keynote speaker

This full school day of inspiring speakers and engaging workshops seeks to spark student reflection and action on how we - as individuals and as a community - can work to create a more equitable and empowering world for all human beings. Through sessions led by our faculty and community partners, students explore a range of social issues and local leaders working in the fields of 
environmental sustainability, equity and inclusion, poverty alleviation, social entrepreneurship, health and wellbeing, senior care, animal welfare, refugee resettlement, human rights advocacy, and more. 
This year, the keynote speaker was Chris Newman '00, founder of Sylvanaqua Farms, located in Montross, Va. Chris envisions a more democratic food system for the region and his farm is guided by principles of permaculture and restorative farming practices inspired by his own Native American roots. In his keynote, titled "Sustainability, for the rest of us," Chris speaks to how the narrative around sustainability - especially around sustainable food - continues to place relatively wealthy, privileged people at the center of the conversation and excludes the vast majority of Americans from participating, why this matters, and what we can do to ensure everyone has a role in keeping the Earth habitable for humankind. Speaking from his experiences as often the sole person of color in many conferences in his field, he challenges students to be aware of who is and isn't in their circles of friends and collaborators, now and in the future, and make a conscious, persistent effort to reach out across lines of difference and barriers to entry.

Programming for the day is assembled jointly by KiKi Davis, Director of Institutional Equity and Diversity,  Brian Kane, Director of Environmental Stewardship and Valentina Raman, Director of Service Learning and Social Entrepreneurship—aka Team Justice.  Students are offered an opportunity to choose three workshops from over 30 dynamic workshops sessions led by community leaders and changemakers, including SSSAS faculty and alumni. At the conclusion of the day, students are guided through a reflective process to make meaning from their experiences and translate ideas into action. It is an amazing day of learning and discovery.

Understanding Cognitive Dementia

Students passionate about taking action for the greater good or those with a keen interest in social issues may go on to enroll in our Social Entrepreneurship program which combines our strong academics and value of Goodness As Well As Knowledge. Social Entrepreneurship is a way of looking at complexity and change and identifying what may be within your power to take action upon. This process develops creative problem-solving, collaboration, and communication skills that students can apply in many job settings in whatever field they choose. We also hope students come away with a greater sense of self-efficacy and compassion.

Refugee Journey

Both the Middle and Upper school have ways for students to get involved: at the Middle School, students can practice social entrepreneurship through our Seeding Social Innovations Club as well as our Student Leadership Council who all receive "changemaker leadership" training; at the Upper School, sophomores, juniors and seniors can enroll in Social Entrepreneurship for a semester and then continue receiving mentorship on their projects through an Advanced Social Entrepreneurship independent study.

Learn more about how SSSAS elevates awareness and empathy in our children.

Topics: Insider, St. Stephens and St. Agnes, dare greatly, become ready, Environmental Stewardship, Spiritual Life, service, Goodness as Well as Knowledge, Upper School

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Practical Advice for Parents of School-Aged Children

Through this blog we intend to share the ways in which our students become ready. We will highlight our faculty, experts in their fields; we will dive into topics such as the joyfulness of learning, the balance of school and home, college readiness, and service. We hope to offer sound advice and guidance, while also sharing what it really means to be a member of our Saints community.

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