The Service Learning and Leadership Program

The Service Learning and Leadership Program at The Mary Louis Academy ensures that our students have an opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of the people in our global, local, and school communities.  At the end of ninth grade, students apply for acceptance into the Service Program, and when accepted spend three years learning about and educating others on issues, such as social justice, poverty, hunger, and the environment, in order to be able to confront challenges and create solutions that will effect positive change.

The SLL Program functions in two ways: through cyclical meetings during zero period and student involvement in the community. SLL students meet each cycle with their grade-level, during zero period (7:45-8:30). During this time, current events and on-going issues are discussed. The goal is to address these difficult topics and conversations in a safe space, where students and teachers can come together to collectively determine what might be some reasonable ways to address the topic at hand. In conjunction with in-class learning, students participate in community service and volunteer opportunities, in order to see first-hand the issues and topics discussed during zero periods. In this way SLL Program provides students with service opportunities; however, students are also encouraged to find their own, based on their own interests, and share those opportunities with fellow SLL members.

SLL students at the Senior level have the unique opportunity to participate in the VOICE Program, a sub-division of SLL. VOICE stands for Vision, Optimism, Inspiration, Confidence, and Empathy. The goal of VOICE is for its members to serve as role models and mentors for the Freshwomen class, in order to help the newest students grow as Women of Dignity at Mary Louis. VOICE members meet cyclically on A-Day, 9th period. During one meeting per month, VOICE members meet one-on-one with their assigned Freshwomen Homerooms. Students interested in participating in VOICE can apply at the end of Junior year.

The energy and enthusiasm with which our students approach each challenge, and envision each new initiative, gives witness to the empowering virtues of making a difference. On campus, SLL students volunteer to ensure that our school and community stays beautiful, and environmentally sound. They accomplish this with weekly after school clean-ups, recycling waste, and cultivating vegetables in the school’s organic garden. Students also travel off campus to volunteer their time at local organizations, such as the First Presbyterian Soup Kitchen, Xavier Mission, and Hour Children. In the past, students in the Service, Learning, and Leadership Program have participated in ‘Delete Day,’ to educate other students about ethical and responsible use of the Internet.  They also served in the Million Trees NYC Stewardship, and also as delegates in the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations.

Below are quotes from current TMLA students, reflecting on their time as members of the Service, Learning, and Leadership Program:

“One of my best experiences in the SLL program was attending “Hour Children,” located in Astoria. It was a very empowering experience because of its motive – to offer assistance to previously incarcerated women. I enjoyed distributing food, such as fruits and vegetables, and providing flowers to light up their days. “Hour Children” enables me to assist others on their brightest days, especially their dull ones.”

  • Jenna Mestrandrea, Class of 2022

“I would tell any student interested that although SLL takes a lot of commitment and time, joining gives the opportunity to make lasting friendships. Having many chances to serve the community gives experience to serve in future projects, while simultaneously helping others. This program is amazing for anyone who loves to serve and make the world a better place, whether through inclusivity, diversity, or environmentally. SLL gives the atmosphere for exactly this.”

  • Elizabeth Mahinay, Class of 2023

“My best experience with the SLL Program has definitely been participating at the Hour Children food pantry. Over the past few years, I have heard a lot about the Hour Children ministry, but I never fully knew what they did. It was not only so great to help right in my community, but I also have a greater appreciation for the dedication of our Sisters of Saint Joseph.”

  • Olivia Zino, Class of 2022