Staff and teachers throughout Leander ISD recognize their role in not just educating students on the core subjects, but also preparing them to be responsible, contributing members of the world community. As such, LISD has built its culture on 10 Ethical Principals, including Concern for Others and Civic Duty. While students at the secondary level are regularly given the chance to develop these skills through community service, fifth grade teacher Brian Currier noticed that elementary students sometimes miss out on these opportunities.

Nine years ago, Currier helped develop “Panther Partners,” a service program at Faubion ES that encourages students from kindergarten through fifth grade to complete six to eight hours of service throughout the school year. To encourage participation, the school offers two events per semester immediately after school, often attended by 60-90 students, and facilitated thanks to parent and teacher volunteers. Previous service activities have included creating handmade cards for local hospitals; filling “care bags” with notes and personal items for those in need; and making dog and cat toys, as well as adoption posters, for Austin Pet Alliance.

Students who complete their service hours, whether through the school-sponsored events or logging outside volunteer hours, are presented with a certificate and T-shirt at an assembly at the end of the school year.

“The willingness to participate is definitely there on the kids’ part,” Currier said. “Most of the time, it’s just a matter of finding activities kids of all ages can do. Once we do, it’s especially gratifying, not only seeing how much our students enjoy giving back to our community, but watching our older students help the younger ones in accomplishing the task.”

Currier also mentioned that teachers use these volunteer events to talk to students about their role in the project, contributing to the greater good, and the importance of lifelong volunteerism. By planting these seeds early, they believe students are better able to establish service-minded habits that will become second nature to them later in life.