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