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Service Learning

Manchester ELL Students Experience Derryfield

Global learning, community involvement, and community service are considered important parts of the Derryfield mission. These three values come together in an eighth grade service project involving a partnership between the Webster and Beech Street elementary schools and Derryfield. The exchange was established in 2006 by Director of Global Programs Susan Grodman as a service learning program with English Language Learner (ELL) students. At a time when such programs were increasingly prevalent for college and high school students, Ms. Grodman thought this would be a perfect fit for Derryfield's Middle School. This program has evolved to include two curricular connections for Derryfield’s eighth graders: a literacy component with middle school English teacher Paul Whitmore and a historical component in Laura Russell’s World Justice class. In the latter, students study the difference between immigrants and refugees, then deepen that understanding when discussing the experiences of their buddies, all of whom are in Manchester after either immigrating or being accepted as refugees.

This program is more than just a single day.It begins in March, when eighth graders are “buddied” with elementary ELL students. The Derryfield students travel to Beech Street and Webster Schools twice to meet with their buddies and participate in a two-way cultural and knowledge exchange.

The culmination of the program is Buddy Day, which occurs this year on May 7, when the ELL students come to Derryfield to visit their buddies. Students will have a day of games, activities, lunch, and programs, including the presentation of original memory books created by Derryfield students for their buddies. These books, which contain pictures, stories, and other expressions of friendship, are treasured by the recipients. The literacy theme is carried through to the end of the day, when the ELL students receive a second published book, chosen especially for them by their Derryfield buddy.

Each year at the end of program, students on both sides of the exchange are surprised by how quickly they were able to establish strong bonds with each other. One Webster teacher noted, “No matter what great field trips I’ve taken my students on, this one is the one they always remember.”

-Duffy Smiley
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The Derryfield School

2108 River Road, Manchester, NH 03104     p: 603.669.4524     f: 603.625.9715