Nov. 15, 2015 How Christ Church Day School Instills the Value of Service at Every Age
Does the constant evolution of “best practices” in your child’s education have your head spinning? With
the spotlight on academics, there’s one key area of learning that could get left behind: Character
Albert Einstein said, “Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in
school.” Christ Church Day School (CCDS) in Coronado, CA, works tirelessly to create lifelong learners,
every step of the way instilling virtues students will carry with them long after they’ve left the
Judy Hunsberger, Head of CCDS, says that character education is a big part of who they are. “We want to
foster the development of the deepest issues of humanity and teach children to understand their
responsibility for the well-being of our society.” This philosophy rests on a sturdy foundation of Christian
ethics and is woven into school and classroom service projects, as well as into chapel services. The
school believes that by starting at a very young age, they can cultivate and develop students into servant
leaders who will continue serving for the rest of their lives.
Each month CCDS highlights a different virtue such as honesty, fairness, compassion, or respect, that
becomes the overarching theme for that month. The selected virtue can be incorporated into classroom
lessons or activities and/or highlighted in a schoolwide service project that benefits a local, national, or
even international organization. During the month of October, for example, the school had a “Pennies
for Paws” fundraiser to help raise money for a local animal shelter. In the classroom, children learned
about St. Francis who is considered the patron saint of animals. This particular service lesson coincided
with the Blessing of the Animals that took place at the school’s church.
Another service project with a strong curriculum connection happens in the third grade. Students are
learning about the rainforest in Science class, and it’s not just the aesthetics and inhabitants. Like other
third graders across the country, they’ll also learn of the various threats to the rainforest. But these
children will be given the opportunity to do something about it. CCDS third graders save Box Tops for
Education which they earn money for and will in turn donate those proceeds to charities which serve
the rainforest efforts.
Some of the service projects are made possible by working with charitable organizations such as food
pantries and other churches. In November, the school will partner with Christ Church to fill 200
Thanksgiving food baskets which will be distributed by local organizations across San Diego. Then, in
January, the church hosts a spaghetti dinner where the school’s sixth graders will serve the meals. There
is also a food collection to benefit a church’s food pantry. Students and their families collect food all
month long for the drive. The message the children receive is that being thankful for our blessings is only
part of our purpose for celebration; the key is to show them how to share those blessings with others.
And that’s exactly what the school strives for every day. Their giving hands reach far beyond the local
community as well. In December they’ll participate in “Operation Shoebox” where they work with a
national organization to provide shoeboxes filled with items for kids in other parts of the world who
might not receive much during the holiday.
One of the more unique service projects the school holds serves a very different kind of need. In
February, children will make valentines for senior citizens. The children will learn that charity is not just
about giving or raising money, and at the same time this project reinforces acknowledging and
respecting the older generation. Valentines will be delivered to a local senior center to be presented to
the seniors on Valentine’s Day.
As the children get older, the responsibility to serve shifts into their hands as they are given required
community service hours to perform. Each year fifth graders need to accomplish at least five hours of
service while sixth graders must serve ten hours. These service hours are in addition to any service
component they participate in during school as they are required to do their hours outside of the school
At CCDS, character education is not just another lesson along with reading, writing, and math. It’s a way
of life—one that starts with an appreciation of life’s blessings and a “pay it forward” mentality that
comes across in everything they do. Staff, teachers, students, and even parents are behind the service
component of the school, volunteering time, energy, and resources for a better world and a better