Penny Harvest Capital Region of NY
Also read about: Engaging Your School Community
The Penny Harvest cannot be successful without a dedicated coach in each school. You will work with a team of student leaders while simultaneously engaging all students. You will spearhead the program, working closely with your principal and other school staff. Your role is one of manager, motivational speaker, teacher, coordinator, planner, and organizer. But, above all, you are a facilitator.
The students are the ones doing the work, making the decisions and driving the program; your role is to guide them and make their work possible. As Penny Harvest coaches have said themselves:
“The [coach] should be the point person, and help the students understand
the importance of the work, why we do it, and to help them buy into it. You’re
a guide. I always emphasize that it’s a democracy, and everyone has equal
say. No one’s ideas are any more or less important than that of any others.”
-Debbie Marks, Teacher
Longtime coaches say that they feel an unusually powerful sense of accomplishment as they watch students apply the lessons of the Penny Harvest to their natural desire to make other people happy. The lessons teach the students the value of service-learning in relation to their regular studies in math, science, English, and history: making the connection between their studies and a better life.
They also report how they enjoy watching youngsters cross generational lines, interact with community leaders, and broker important changes in their own neighborhoods. Best of all, you will feel a sense of freedom and flexibility unusual with most programs. The Penny Harvest is not only easy for the children to understand, but it is also easy for you to initiate, and it allows for many different paths to success.
The Penny Harvest is most successful when the entire school community is involved. As Penny Harvest Coach, you take the lead to inspire and coordinate all of the members of your school community.
You will select and lead a group of 15 student leaders who will help you coordinate the involvement of all students and faculty in your school through school wide events and activities.
You may already have Penny Harvest Leaders from years past that will continue to play this role. When these students graduate you will need to add to your leadership.
Recruiting Student Leaders
The most important criterion for a student leadership team is the inclusion of multiple grades to build future leadership and foster cross-age mentoring. Include students from the top three grades of your school. In a K-5 school, leaders would be from grades 3, 4 and 5, and the leaders in grades 4 and 5 would lead the harvest, and then choose students in grade 3 to join them on the Philanthropy Roundtable.
To Recruit Leaders
- Have students explain why they want to be a part of the leadership team through a brief letter, essay or artwork.
- Choose students who will benefit the most. Classroom teachers can be helpful here.
While the student government and other leadership groups can point to leaders, don’t just pick the “usual suspects,” the students who already serve as leaders or are involved in many extracurricular activities.
- The Penny Harvest is a great opportunity for students who are not generally recognized scholastically, or otherwise, to develop new leadership skills. Coach Deanna Belcher shares, “If they are there leading all day long in the classroom, I like to give someone else a chance; I have a couple of kids on [my] leadership team that would be considered ‘behavioral problems,’ and it helps them to feel responsible for something.”
- Make sure all of the diversity in your school is represented on the leadership team. Your team should include both boys and girls, students with and without special education needs, and students of different backgrounds.