Christmas was fast approaching as McKay School student teacher Andrew Lem Lovell’s fourth grade classroom met for their weekly “Classroom Democracy Meeting.” Given the holiday season, the students decided to start a service project to help those in need so they could better understand the real meaning of Christmas and the holidays. Lovell helped monitor and guide the students during the brainstorming process and class discussion, but he credits the class for creating and executing their latest service project: Pennies for Peace.
The project consisted of a weeklong reading marathon where donors would match the number of minutes read by a student with a penny. The proceeds would then go to Utah Foster Care to aid the nonprofit organization in buying Christmas presents for foster care children. Lovell’s classroom invited the fifth graders in Ms. Babcock’s class and together the students read over 18,897 minutes and raised $2,514.80.
Lovell’s students will continue planning and adding service opportunities into the learning curriculum.
“I do plan for more service opportunities in the future, but each service project will be created by that year’s class,” Lovell said. “I believe that we were so successful this year because students took ownership for every part of the project. I was there to guide them but they took the reins and put the project together.”
Lovell believes that service enhances learning in the classroom because it helps the students realize there is a world outside themselves and that their actions impact the people around them.
“When I was collecting my money, my grandpa gave me an extra twenty dollars and told me I could keep it or donate it,” one student in the classroom said. “After thinking for a minute about things I could buy for myself, I decided to donate it to the Utah Foster Care children because I wanted to make this Christmas special for other kids. I felt like by giving gifts to others, I received the gift of feeling happy and good inside.”
Lovell was first inspired to be a teacher after a conversation with his sister when he was first starting college. He originally planned on studying nutrition when she asked if he cared about money. Lovell responded that he did not.
“My sister said, ‘Well, you should pick something where you are going to be able to come home every day from work and feel happy that you helped someone,’” Lovell said. “I’ve always been pretty service-oriented and that’s something that makes me happy. So I thought, ‘What’s something I can do where I’m serving people and I can still make a living and I can come home and feel really happy?’ My sister asked me about teaching and I’d never thought about that before. At that moment, it just hit me that teaching was the route to go.”
What he enjoys most about being in education is the opportunity to inspire his students to make positive changes in their lives and help them learn to take the road less traveled. Lovell feels that service often is the road less traveled and that most of his fourth-grade students had never experienced serving in a large capacity, much less setting up projects like Pennies for Peace on their own.
“I guided them, but I don’t think that’s the usual route for fourth graders to go beyond themselves and get outside [of] their little boxes,” Lovell said. “They have homes, they have beds, they have families and people who care about them; but there are tons of people who don’t have those same luxuries. I think they were able to see that as they got to know more about the Utah Foster Care organization and what it’s about, and how their money was going to impact hundreds of local and state-wide kids.”
Lovell is a student teacher at Spanish Oaks Elementary School in Spanish Fork and will graduate from the McKay School in Elementary Education in April 2016.
March 11, 2016
Written by: Megan Bahr
Contact: Shauna Valentine (801) 422-8562