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DelawareCANCivic, ethical and social-justice literacy

Several weeks ago, a WMS parent organized a volunteer event at the Food Bank of Delaware. Twenty members of the WMS community, including parents and children, signed up to fill boxes, sort food items and generally prepare food for distribution to the hungry in our community. As you may know, our school has a long-standing relationship with the Food Bank. We have participated in the DelawareCAN project in the past two years. Our 9-12 students led these projects by working to build a creative representation of canned goods to donate to the Food Bank. Collecting and donating food is a way in which our community can give back to the larger Delaware community. It is also a way in which our students, young though they may be, are able to learn about those whose lives may be different than their own. It is hands-on learning at its best.

The staff at WMS is constantly looking for ways to contribute to the broader community, whether it is the community of Wilmington, the state of Delaware, the country in which we live, or the larger world. We work to find ways in which children can recognize the disparities that exist in our world and try to do something that will make a difference. This is a foundation of a Montessori education and integral to our students’ experience at WMS.

In the past we have participated in various programs such as the Tap Project, Save the Rain, Hanover Church food bank and child care program, Mennonite Material Resource Center, Vision For and From ChildrenWestside Family Healthcare, UNICEF, World Wildlife Fund, Ronald McDonald House of Delaware and Heifer International. Each of these projects involved the children as much as possible. Students have opportunities to learn about the programs, work to support them, and speak and communicate about them to others. They learn that their work matters and that we have a responsibility to the greater community. The goal of this work is to create a sense of the larger world and civic duty.

As Dr. Montessori shared, “Establishing peace is the work of education.” It is important to recognize those who came before us and sacrificed to make our world a better place; she knew then what we have confirmed today. In order to work toward peace, we need to share the stories of others and learn from them. We need to consider others in all that we do and work toward justice for all people. Though this is currently described as a 21st-century skill, she knew that this skill is necessary throughout history to make our world the best possible place for its people.