At TJ, Learning Goes Beyond the Classroom

At TJ, we strive to give our students an awareness of the larger community beyond their school and their individual social circles. To that end, all students complete a required number of service hours by the beginning of their senior year, and TJ's annual All-School Service Learning Day provides an opportunity for students along with faculty and staff to join in acts of service together. By helping others and participating in activities that do not provide monetary rewards, students gain a sense of responsibility for themselves and for the world in which they live.

This year's All-School Service Learning Day took place on Friday, October 28, 2022. For the first time, it was expanded from a half day to a full day of presentations, activities, and volunteering. "Service Learning Day began as a way to expose students to the many different opportunities available to participate in volunteerism," said Jim Pesek, TJ's Service Learning Coordinator. "This year, we wanted to give students an opportunity to hear from volunteer leaders in the broader community to expand their notions of what it means to participate in acts of service."  

The day began with a presentation from Bobby Wassel, Director of Operations for Saint Louis University’s Center for Social Action, who spoke on the importance of volunteerism and encouraged students to consider ways they can make a difference in both their careers and in their communities. Following the presentation, students participated in a letter-writing campaign to politicians at the local, state, and federal levels to model an example of social action. Students were given the flexibility to write on any issue that was most meaningful to them. To wrap up the morning, Director of Belleville AmeriCorps, Jay Stokes, and Member Services Director of St. Louis AmeriCorps, Kelley Hower, presented on the benefits of long-term service and on the opportunities that are available through their respective programs. 

In the afternoon, staff and students split into groups to volunteer at five community organizations throughout the greater St. Louis area. Activities ranged from packing boxes of food, to clearing hiking trails, to sorting donated materials for reuse, to harvesting crops. "The All-School Service Learning Day is one of my favorite traditions at TJ," said Jane Roth, Acting Head of School. "It is rewarding to participate in acts of service alongside students and colleagues, and the fact that we devote an entire school day to participating in various types of social action makes me proud to be part of the TJ community." At the end of the day, members from each group shared their experiences. When reflecting on the day, 9th grader Shiloh Byers stated, "I love that we have Service Learning Day at TJ because it provides us with an awareness of societal challenges while also providing opportunities for me and my classmates to take action related to issues we are passionate about. It was also a really fun day!"

The 2022 All-School Service Learning Organization Partners included:
  • Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center
  • EarthDance Farms
  • Perennial STL
  • St. Louis Area Foodbank
  • H.E.R.O.E.S. Care
Graduates of the school are required to complete a minimum of 75 hours of volunteer work throughout their high school career. To learn more about TJ’s Service Learning Program, visit:

Thomas Jefferson School

4100 S. Lindbergh Boulevard
Saint Louis, MO 63127
P. (314) 843-4151
F. (314) 843-3527