Service Learning at PS 154

It was a chilly day when I visited the Harlem Children’s Zone program at PS 154, but that didn’t stop enthusiastic first graders from going outside to take pictures of their neighborhood for their semester ending service learning project!

After weeks of learning about advocacy and exploring why after-school is important the students have decided to create a mixed media mural that will help anyone who sees it understand the importance of the HCZ after-school program at PS 154 to these students and their community.  The first step in creating the mural was outlining the background.  This task was undertaken by the dedicated and enthusiastic HCZ staff; service learning coordinator Jennifer Herard unveiled the outline to students the afternoon I was there.

Unveiling the mural

Without giving too much away (I hope you all can see the mural at its official debut at Teachers College on December 17th!) the main idea of the mural is after-school as the center of the students’ community.  To convey a sense of community students decided to go out into their neighborhood and take photos to include in the mural.  The first step was examining the outline to see what had been included, using this for inspiration the coats came on and out we went to 127th street!

First order of business: a picture of PS 154.

It was so much fun to walk through the neighborhood with the students and see their community through their eyes that I almost forgot how cold it was!

Jennifer helping students line up the shot.

We saw a lot of cool things on the walk, from a bowling alley to a state office building to the St. Nicholas Houses where a lot of the students live.  While I appreciated all of it, I have to say my favorite thing to see was the “world famous” Apollo theater on 125th street!

Getting a picture of the Apollo.

I can’t wait to see how the pictures turn out, I’m even more excited to see them incorporated into the mural becoming part of a tapestry with after-school at its center.  As I mentioned earlier in the post, the mural should be unveiled on December 17th at Teachers College.  There will be a post in coming weeks with more details about the debut – until then thanks for reading, and thanks for letting me explore your community with you PS 154!