Cheyenne Robertson is Marin Academy’s new Director of Community Action and also serves MA as a Human Development Teacher. Prior to coming to MA, Cheyenne worked at Sacred Heart Schools in Atherton. With a passion for social justice, she is excited to join Marin Academy and eager to work with students interested in becoming more socially and civic-minded members of the community.
What brought you to Marin Academy?
I was so excited to combine my love of classroom teaching with my commitment to social justice. Being able to continue my work teaching human development, which focuses on adolescent development, as well as having more of an administrative role leading MA’s service-learning program, was a dream come true. I have known about MA for many years, as I have taught in independent schools in the area, and I have always been struck by MA’s unique balance between academic rigor and experiential education. MA does an incredible job nurturing students who are civically minded and passionate about social justice and while we have a number of students involved in the program already, there are an endless number of volunteer opportunities available for anyone else interested in getting involved.
What is the Center for Community Action?
It is a program at Marin Academy that seeks to raise awareness of problems in our local, national and global communities; to foster critical thinking, reflection and empathy; and to support action through civic engagement. Building on the mission of thinking, questioning and creating, the Community Action program challenges students to focus that energy to improve the communities around us.
Why should students get involved with Community Action?
You gain so much from civic engagement that goes far beyond just helping your community. So much personal growth happens through this type of work and I would like to see more students get involved. Through civic engagement, our students have an opportunity to take their academic knowledge and apply it to other aspects of the community. It’s an incredibly valuable experience to put yourself in another’s shoes and think about the broader community we live in.
What types of opportunities are available?
With Thanksgiving coming up, we’ve partnered with the SF-Marin Food Bank and are doing a school-wide food drive. From November 17-25 non-perishable foods can be brought to school to help aid the more than 50,000 Marin residents in need of food.
I’m also excited about our newest endeavor, The Brown Bag Project, which is an ongoing Community Action project that invites students, families and staff to participate whenever they have time. We will be partnering with both Homeward Bound and St. Vincent De Paul to make and deliver sack lunches to homeless residents in the Bay Area. The Brown Bag Project will have volunteer opportunities available on both weekday afternoons and Saturday mornings, so as to attract as many volunteers as possible. I’m very excited about this project and I’m confident the students will be too!
There are a number of different ongoing opportunities available for students who are interested in civic engagement through the Center for Community Action. Here are just a few possibilities based on areas of interest:
Education: Canal Alliance
Environment: Turtle Island Restoration Network
Homelessness: St. Vincent De Paul
Hunger: SF-Marin Food Bank
Inclusion: Rec Inc.
For students interested in taking on a leadership role in civic engagement, Marin Academy also has a Youth Grants Board, which encourages, supports and sustains youth philanthropy within Marin Academy and the larger community. This year there are seven returning members to the Board but there are still six spots open for anyone interested in applying. Term begins October 2014 and ends in June 2015.
I also encourage both students and parents within the MA community to reach out to me with any other organizational interests they may have. I’m happy to facilitate meetings to other organizations we’re not currently involved with.
What are your goals for the program this year?
I know full well that students are busy with tons of activities and a rigorous academic schedule. I want to try to make this an accessible option for all kids, which is why I’m starting Saturday morning Community Action programs. These days will be shorter, single-commitment opportunities that can more easily be integrated into busy student schedules. I’d also like to learn more about where the interest is within the MA community. I want to know what types of projects would spark community action growth. Our students are already immersed in the education portion, and I’d like to encourage more students to participate in the action and engagement portions as well!
To learn more, visit the Center for Community Action page on the Marin Academy website by clicking here.