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Curriculum Rooted in Community Service

This week wraps up National Volunteer Month 2023. At Riverbend, we especially welcome the opportunity to give thanks and appreciation to our vast network of volunteers because the School prioritizes volunteering year-round. It is an essential part of our culture here, and as Director of Development at Riverbend, it is one of the things that drew me to the School as a staff member and as a parent. 

The word philanthropy translates to “love of humanity”, and that love can come in many forms. Through donations to the Annual Fund, and through gifts of time and talent by volunteering. At Riverbend, volunteering is integrated into the curriculum early-on in Primary and continues up through Middle School where it is further emphasized in students’ final years. 

Kindergarten students can be found at the local nursing home delivering hand-made cards or performing concerts to brighten a senior’s day. Elementary students run a food drive and coat drive each year to ensure neighbors are fed and warm. In Middle School, service to others is a constant as these campus leaders assist in the classroom helping younger learners, or shadowing and helping administrative staff as part of Community Outreach

This year, Middle School students extended their volunteer impact by designating their Winter Project for the purpose of building awareness of causes important to them. “Riverbend Weekend” attracted guests with a waffle breakfast followed by student-led presentations on the refugee crisis and period poverty. These presentations required a comprehensive understanding of the topic and the acumen to relay information and inspire action. 

Students gain problem-solving skills, teamwork, leadership skills, and more through volunteering. Volunteering also exposes students to different perspectives and experiences, fostering a sense of empathy and social responsibility. This can broaden their understanding of the world and help students develop a sense of compassion and concern for others.

And volunteering extends beyond our students. Parents and family members make up the Riverbend Power of Community, our family volunteer program made up of four branches: Family Connection, Outreach, Service Learning, and DEI. Family volunteers help foster an alignment between home and school life, underscoring the holistic approach to education that is a pillar of Montessori philosophy.

For family members who may not be able to volunteer on a long-term basis, many are still active participants by visiting campus to serve as guest readers in the classroom, share their culture and heritage during students’ international studies, or speak to their vocational experiences and give insight on career and life after school to Elementary and Middle school students. Parents have organized International Children’s Book Day, arranged for guest lectures on special topics like biomimicry, and more

Service and volunteering can be found in many of our campus events as well. At Fall Festival, students and families assemble snack bags for Natick Service Council, and in turn aid families in Natick experiencing food insecurity. Riverbend GIVES is an entire day dedicated to volunteering when students and families come together to actively serve others. This year’s Riverbend GIVES event produced 245 dog toys for the Animal Rescue League of Boston, 97 hygiene kits for Hope & Comfort, and 116 gift bags for children in foster care in the Metrowest area.

Maria Montessori believed that volunteering was an essential part of the education process. She believed that young people should be encouraged to engage in meaningful activities that contribute to the betterment of society, and that volunteering provided an opportunity for young people to develop character and cultivate a sense of responsibility towards others. That, through volunteering, students can learn to work collaboratively, develop empathy and respect for others, while gaining a sense of purpose and fulfillment.

Our goal is to equip students with the skills, knowledge, dispositions, and habits of mind they will need to navigate the future, and, at Riverbend, so much of that is rooted in service to others.

Thank you to the talented and generous volunteers who strengthen our community, enrich the student experience, and boost every one of our efforts in our mission to develop lifelong learners. Happy #NationalVolunteerMonth!

To learn more about volunteer opportunities at Riverbend, contact Katelyn Lincoln at or (508) 535-2910

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