Service Learning

Participation in service learning has long been a foundational principle for USM students, beginning in prekindergarten and continuing on through Upper School and are central to our mission to “ignite a passion for learning, leadership, and service…for a life of purpose.”

Experiences within the School community, around the greater Milwaukee area, and even internationally, allow students to see themselves as agents of change and inspire them to make a difference.

These experiences foster learning, personal growth, and connections, and offer children opportunities to develop leadership skills. They also prompt conceptualization of societal and environmental problems, adding critical context to classroom learning.

3rd Grade Riverwest Food Pantry

As a third grader, students learn nutrition and budgeting in a project that culminates in a trip to the River West Food Pantry. Students plan meals, do chores to raise money, shop for healthy food items and finally deliver their donations and learn about the Food Pantry.

5th Grade River Clean Up

In 5th grade students participate in an interdisciplinary study of the importance of rivers and river ecology in their science, World Cultural Geography, math and English classes. As part of this study, students take a field trip to River Edge Nature Center in Saukville where they use collect macroinvertebrates and learn about how they help indicate the quality of a clean river. They also learn about what a watershed is and its importance in maintaining a healthy river. From there, students do a park/river clean up where they collect trash and recyclables. Over the past eleven years, USM fifth graders have recovered more than 4,000 pounds of refuse from Brown Deer Park. 

8th Grade Veterans Project

8th-grade humanities focus on American Studies. Through the lens of the soldier’s experience, 8th graders connect their classroom study and travel to DC with a variety of projects benefiting the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight, Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund as well as local service organizations like Dry Hooch and Pets for Vets. Pictured here is the 6th annual March to the Memorials. 

Upper School Social Engagement Program

The Upper School Community Engagement Program aims to educate the sophomores on various segments of the Milwaukee Community who have unique needs and who could benefit from community service work by our students. Issues such as homelessness/housing insecurity, food insecurity/hunger, and educational inequality are addressed through a service retreat, on campus activities, readings, and documentaries. Each unit culminates with a panel presentation comprised of members of the Milwaukee Community who work for organizations that help to improve the situation of those with that specific need and a list of ways our students can get involved and be part of the solution. We see this program as an important step in helping our students identify issues of personal significance and concern and give them the tools to take a leadership role in their community.

Social Issues & Service Program

The Social Issues & Service Program course is offered for upperclassmen who, after completing our Community Engagement Program, wish to focus in depth on a community issue of personal concern and commit to a year of long-term service and independent research. In addition to their individual work in the community at large, these students serve as small group leaders in the Social Engagement program and plan and run on-campus service and fundraising events.

MLK: A National Day of Service

Each year USM Students are given the day off of school so that they can participate in the National Day of Service created to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. A large variety of service opportunities are organized so that students at all grade levels may serve at a developmentally appropriate level.  Projects range from making cards and paper flowers to deliver to nursing homes, making sandwiches for homeless shelters, basketball clinics run for kids with disabilities, meal service at a women’s shelter, and building homes with Habitat for Humanity, to participating with City Year’s Annual Urban Beautification Project to name just a few.

The Frank S. Spigener Service and Leadership Award

The Frank S. Spigener Service and Leadership Award recognizes an Upper School student who demonstrates the spirit of caring, humanitarianism, and volunteerism exemplified by Frank Spigener, who was a long-time American history teacher and headmaster at Milwaukee University School—a predecessor to University School of Milwaukee. Each recipient receives a cash award of $1,000 and the privilege to designate a grant of $2,000 to a local Milwaukee 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization of his or her choice. Read more about the award, and its first-ever recipient, here.
Prekindergarten (age 3) - Grade 12 • Independent • Coeducational
© 2021 University School of Milwaukee
2100 W. Fairy Chasm Road, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53217 • 414.352.6000