Service Learning Evolves into Service Living 

Adolescence is the time when students develop the lifelong habits which transform them from girls to young women, and habits established at this age can become behaviors in adulthood. One of the most transformative habits is to cultivate a service mindset, something students at Notre Dame Preparatory School are encouraged to develop from their earliest years here at the school. 

NDP hosts Camp Umoja, a day camp for children from Baltimore City’s inner city neighborhoods.

Driven by the principles of Catholic Social Teaching, NDP maintains the longest-running service program among Baltimore-area private schools. Characterized by person-to-person interaction, social service at NDP exposes students to the impact one can have on many, cultivates relationships between volunteers and those served, and encourages an individualized, passion-specific relationship with giving back.   

Service can be local, national or international at NDP.

Starting in ninth grade students are invited, not required, to participate in NDP’s many Social Service programs. Opportunities are endless and borderless. From tutoring local refugee youth to serving dinner for our aging elderly, from traveling to Panama to work alongside alumnae in the Peace Corps to constructing a new home for a local family, service is treated as an extension of the Prep learning experience. 

By Sophomore year a structured, 20-hour per year requirement is assigned, and the student decides how those hours are executed. Students may choose to clean a local stream, deliver meals, assist with the disabled, or work in whatever capacity resonates with their passions, talents, and personalities. Those who are leaders of their own service decisions are more personally fulfilled by their service work and tend to volunteer repeatedly.  

NDP students are encouraged to practice a hands-on approach to service.

The skills and morals learned in the classrooms of NDP ripple outwardly to our fellow citizens. Leading the Social Service Department for the last 15 years, Steven Pomplon demonstrates that human connection is the engine that drives service. He encourages a student-led approach by allowing girls to generate initiatives and manage their own service clubs. While many talents can be used to serve, face-to-face interaction and hands-on work are prioritized. This approach develops a long-term personal relationship with the act of giving back, creating what Mr. Pomplon describes as a “lifestyle of service” that continues to mature with the individual.  

A Camp Umoja counselor helps a young camper.

Notre Dame Prep maintains key partnerships throughout the Baltimore area and beyond. The 38-year relationship with Camp Umoja and the 40+ year tradition of hosting Dinner with Elders for seniors in public housing continue to flourish because of the personal connection NDP continually builds with those organizations. Trust, connection, and a sense of personal responsibility are cultivated by working with the same people for the same mission.  

At Notre Dame Prep, service is a lifestyle and an actionable way in which students live the Catholic faith, not an elective or extra-curricular activity. Service is treated as a lifelong partnership with our community–whether the community is within our city, throughout the nation, or across the globe.  

NDP students harvest crops at First Fruits Farms, “a non-profit, Christian ministry dedicated to providing fresh, nutritious food for the hungry through volunteer service and community partnerships”.

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