Emily Washington Officially Becomes Hackley’s First K-12 Service-Learning Coordinator!

Middle and Upper School Spanish teacher Emily DeMarchena Washington ‘94, P ‘30 officially joined Hackley’s Service Coordinator Team as our first K-12 Service-Learning Coordinator.
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Middle and Upper School Spanish teacher Emily DeMarchena Washington ‘94, P’30 officially joined Hackley School’s Service Coordinator Team—which includes Lower School Computer Science teacher Mary Murray-Jones, Middle School English teacher Jennifer Louros, Upper School Spanish teacher Jessica Spates, and Library Administrative Assistant Danielle Schmitt—in the inaugural role of Service-Learning Coordinator. In this role, Mrs. Washington serves as a resource for the promotion and adoption of Service-Learning practices in each division, helping colleagues to incorporate Service-Learning strategy into course curricula.

“Emily Washington has long been a champion of Service-Learning at Hackley,” shared Steven Bileca, Assistant Head of School for Academic Affairs. “Whether through her course Civic Engagement for Advanced Spanish Speakers, her iGrant-supported work with K-12 faculty on integrating Service-Learning into curriculum, or her thoughtful engagement leading professional development opportunities on this topic over the years, Emily has helped bring Service-Learning to Hackley on a broad scope.”

In an article for the Hackley Winter Review 2017-18, Mrs. Washington described Service-Learning as a teaching strategy that combines academic and social education goals to meet real community needs, requiring both the application of knowledge and skills, and the deliberate reflection about the experience. She goes on to describe what it means to build community through Service-Learning, highlighting the Post-AP Spanish course she created and the projects that were developed in response to immediate community needs. “For me, a well-crafted Service-Learning project provides our students with the opportunity to take genuine ownership of their learning. Service-Learning done well makes its own path, a forward looking vision of the world where our students grow into longtime learners, responsive citizens, and value-grounded people.”

This academic year, Mrs. Washington’s Post-AP: Language and Culture students curated and created original content in Spanish and English on Indigenous peoples from the Americas for Class of 2014 alumna Ahimsa (Meghan) Philpott’s 7th grade Social Studies classes at the Fannie Lou Hamer Middle School in the Bronx. Additionally, the Civic Engagement for Advanced Spanish Speakers class concentrated their efforts on Voting Rights Access and issues of food insecurity and educating the Hackley community about the complexities of these struggles. Their efforts to bring awareness to the community through mixed media—an educational video and social media takeovers—supported the cross-divisional Holiday Food Drive in December 2020, which collected 500 pounds of food for our partners at the Community Food Pantry, serving over 900 families a month living with food insecurity. 

With her guidance, students and faculty continue to identify ways in which entire classes and individual student researchers can partner with community-based organizations to help our neighbors, providing support and developing solutions for an array of issues. In the coming months, Mrs. Washington aims to increase the number of impactful partnerships between Hackley School and local community partners, fostering meaningful, long-lasting connections and enhancing the student learning experience.

Service Learning initiatives directly support a key pillar of Redefining Excellence—to Promote the Hilltop as a Learning Hub—engaging our Hackley community partners to discuss, adopt, and implement the service learning framework, and preparing our students to identify needs and execute projects that have a lasting and meaningful impact beyond the Hilltop.