Blake School, a k-12 community and service-based school in Minneapolis, first partnered with Learning In Style School (LIS) in 2017. Blake students visited LIS students to work collaboratively on story-based projects focused on family and different communities. The students of Blake have been involved with Learning in Style School ever since, helping establish a food shelf in 2020 and volunteering with spring clean-up activities.
This past December students from an art class met with LIS students to create drawings based on pictures of the LIS students’ favorite memories and special places. Blake students visited LIS three times to collaborate on their drawings and learn more about their partners. The final session was spent presenting the finished drawings to the group and sharing what each partner learned, what impressions the sessions had on each person, and explaining what each drawing represented. The completed drawings were given to the LIS student partners before Blake left.
As the Blake students were sharing their artwork with the group and explaining what they created together, they were also asked to share what “gifts of the experience” they were taking with them. These were things the students were going to remember after their experience at Learning In Style School and weren't expecting to learn before the project began. Many groups drew depictions of markets and places of worship from faraway countries and shared that they learned much about places they had never visited.
At first the students were shy to share their “gifts”; but with encouragement from their teachers, they became comfortable sharing with the group. “I practiced patience and enjoyed getting to know my partner,” said one student. Another added, “I increased my connection to my partner by researching and having a personal experience.” Most students shared that they had researched and learned about the place where their partners’ picture was from, including architecture styles, plants, landscapes, and people. All commented about the appreciation they had for one another and their experience.
This partnership has been so rich for LIS, but what’s important from this project is that our students see and interact with the Blake students and their values. The LIS students meet kids that care about relationships and give back to their communities. They realize that their own children can also grow up to prioritize community and service, which isn't always what our students experience in their neighborhoods. It’s very important that our parents see that example. ~Martha Nemesi, Learning In Style School Director
Gifts are what the programs we support provide: something unexpected, given freely, presented to an individual in an act of kindness and compassion. A gift is oftentimes unexpected and presented in a spirit of kindness; most often received with gratitude. A woman arriving at Sarah’s... an Oasis for Women with no bed to call her own is offered a private room and space to heal. A father meeting with a physician at St. Mary’s Health Clinics to learn how to better manage his diabetes, even though he doesn’t have health insurance. A mother receiving a drawing of her hometown’s cathedral from a teenager unknown to her three weeks ago. The gifts our programs provide make it possible for everyone in our communities to thrive and ensure that equal access is available to all.
Cheers to more gifts, freely given, in 2023.
We value our partnership with Learning In Style School. The Blake students and faculty who get to know LIS students and staff come away with new perspectives and understanding of their local community and our global connection. The work that our students do with and for partners is often some of their best. ~Lisa Sackreiter, Director of Service Learning and Community Engagement at Blake School