MISH/Community Service

Our Community Service Commitment

Community Service is a unifying experience at The Masters School. There is a strong social conscience that goes back to The School’s founding in 1877, when Miss Eliza Bailey Masters said she would educate each and every one of her students to be a “power for good in the world.” Formally, the School calls it MISH (Masters Interested in Sharing and Helping). It is an all-school way for any student, teacher, or staff member who wants to be an agent of progress of caring to become one.

Across every grade and subject area, virtually everyone at the School finds meaning in making a difference. They are passionate about supporting and hosting the Special Olympics Junior Games, Harlem Village Academy tutoring, Children’s Village and a long list of other worthy causes. Between Jeans Day donations (on Fridays students, teachers, and staff can “trade” a dollar for the right to wear jeans) and other fundraising activities, the school community raises close to $20,000 annually for local, national, and international charities. At MISH morning meetings, representatives from those charities visit the School to give students a chance to learn more about the projects their dollars support.

Contributing money is far from all the school community does to make a difference. Through a broad range of service learning programs from action in Africa to helping out in local day care centers to teaching about suicide prevention to coordinating fundraisers for micro banks to traveling to Jonestown, Mississippi, to repair homes, students at The Masters School learn about both disparity and possibility. Recognizing the needs of people all over the world, they learn to identify their own resources and use them to meaningfully contribute to the health and safety of everyone.

MISH: Following a Long Tradition of Leaders

Meaningful leadership is one of the most valuable opportunities we can offer students in high school.

Masters Interested in Sharing and Helping (MISH), which includes our community service program and social justice organizations (Amnesty International, AIDS Committee, Habitat for Humanity, and Ubuntu), provides a wealth of leadership opportunities as well as training for current and potential leaders.

MISH seeks and attracts students who enjoy taking charge, but more importantly, students who want to make a difference in our community and in the world. As MISH leaders our greatest challenge is to educate and motivate our school community to be more aware of the interconnectedness of our world. In making these connections, we aim to cultivate a sense of personal responsibility for making choices and taking action to foster positive change.

Originally part of the Religion Department and known as The Missionary Society, MISH has evolved into an umbrella organization for all service-related activities in the school.

Traditionally, all students are members of MISH by virtue of being students at The Masters School. In this spirit of inclusiveness we expect all students to participate in community service activities during the year. Not requiring a specific number of hours of service for graduation frees us from a tedious counting of hours and allows MISH leaders and students to work on an inspirational basis and choose to participate. Using service learning to help fellow students understand the issues, make connections, and experience the intrinsic rewards of service are other important goals. Creating awareness that inspires action is no easy task, but it is the core of our MISH program.

MISH is lead by four senior chairs, eight class representatives, club heads, Special Olympic chairs, and middle school coordinators.

This large and lively group meets every other Monday preceding class meetings. Each senior chair works closely with one of the classes to help lead the class MISH projects throughout the year; leadership training is interlaced with awareness-raising speakers and seminars, as well as the nuts-and-bolts planning of projects. We work with the progressive goals of awareness, education, action, and reflection in each project we undertake. MISH leaders learn to organize and implement large group service learning projects that are meaningful to both the volunteers and the service recipients. MISH leaders quickly realize that communication with all constituencies—class advisors, peers, agency directors, the school community, and me—is critical.

I like to think of our MISH leaders as young visionaries.

Many people of all ages have good ideas for positive change, but only some choose to act on them, especially in high school. In MISH meetings we encourage and support each other in exploring and shaping our visions of a better world.

Sometimes MISH leaders come up against apathy and resistance. That’s where education and perseverance are crucial for raising awareness. Once the justice issues and social conditions are understood, most students respond with compassion and generosity. Motivating a class of 80-90 students to spend free time doing service work takes determination and planning, but in the end the rewards are many. The ultimate success of a service learning project lies in the energy and intention of a group of volunteers. Intention and attitude can transform any service experience, no matter how small or grand, into a meaningful experience. Like so many other life experiences, what you put in is what you get out. These are the more subtle lessons of service that MISH leaders help students experience. In wanting more for others, we enrich ourselves.

I see MISH as a tool for helping students understand their role and responsibility in moral leadership.

I see MISH as a tool for helping students understand their role and responsibility in moral leadership. In a materialistic, me-centered culture, students are challenged to serve the world community, and in doing so, they realize that the needs of others can come before the needs of the individual. It is my hope that MISH leaders gain valuable life lessons that encompass both the intellect and the heart. MISH seeks to strengthen a sense of individual responsibility that molds character and guides in finding a sense of purpose. As is evidenced in the many conversations I’ve had with alumnae/i in action, the message of MISH has stuck with them and continues to inspire them to serve and learn in all walks of life.