Institute for Social Impact

Lower School

Core Values

We recognize that today’s students have the potential to be leaders, not just in the future, but now. 

We seek to understand others and do so by working to abandon our assumptions and participating in honest open dialogue.
We are committed to supporting all members of our community in reaching their greatest potential. 

We keep a pulse on emerging practices and trends and believe in pursuing new creative ideas that have the potential to change the world.
"We empower the girls to believe they can achieve anything, and that limitless potential authentically shines through when they see the impact they are having on the community."

- Taylor Miller, Third Grade teacher
Each grade level features a Social Impact theme that directly aligns with the four pillars of community engagement, community service, service-learning, and social entrepreneurship that define the Institute for Social Impact. These lessons and activities emphasize real-world experiences and outcomes such as strong advocacy skills, increased community interactions, and hands-on practice in designing solutions, while exploring purpose and building empathy. Students at each grade level take part in an impact field trip, a campus visit, and a service project according to their grade’s theme. Families are also offered optional weekend projects, grade-level party projects, and projects specifically for parents.

List of 6 frequently asked questions.

  • PreK

    Theme: Learning about and giving gratitude to the Hockaday Community

    Programs for Students:
    Kind Acts for The Hockaday Community
    Students tour, learn names, and thank our support staff including maintenance, nursing, housekeeping, dining, technology, library, security, and administration.

    Cards for Dining Hall Staff
    Students read the Lunch Lady Series book and the dining hall staff dress up as superheroes the day after they read it as a surprise. The girls make cards to honor them.

    Great Kindness Challenge
    Students spread kindness throughout the Lower School, participating in the Great Kindness Challenge.

    Singing for Support Staff
    Sabrina Kessee escorts students to support staff offices (maintenance, kitchen, nurses, housekeeping and administration) to sing thank you songs.

    Hockaday Departmental Recognition
    Students participate in a morning gathering to say thank you and recognize all support staff.

    Flower Project
    Lara Guerra assists students with potting plants that they will take to maintenance staff to say thank you.

    Optional Programs for Families:
    Thank You Cards with Upper School Seniors
    Students play on the playground and make cards for the Hockaday community with Upper School Seniors.
  • Kinder/Primer

    Theme: The Elderly

    Programs for Students:
    Door Decorations for the Elderly
    Students create Fall door decorations for the residents of Dickinson Place to hang on their front doors.  A family then delivers the decorations to Dickinson Place.

    Paperwhite Bulbs
    Students plant and cultivate paperwhite bulbs in Science class. The students then take care of the bulbs until they are ready to be potted. Once potted, the students create cards to go with the bulbs and deliver to Dickinson Place for the residents to have flowers in their living spaces in December.

    Making Cards for Seniors through Meals on Wheels
    Students create cards to be delivered with meals for the organization Meals on Wheels in December

    Senior Needs Drive for Dickinson Place
    Students learn about the elderly in library class and read stories about how to be community helpers. Students then learn about Dickinson Place, and discover what residents need. After collecting the items, students decorate the supply bags and write cards to go in the bags as well. 
    Optional Social Impact for Families
    Decorating Sidewalks for Residents at Everly Wood

  • First Grade

    Theme: Learning About Animals in the Community

    Programs for Students:
    Create blankets for Operation Kindness
    Students create blankets for the dogs at Operation Kindness after learning about the organization

    Read to Dogs at Operation Kindness to lower anxiety
    Students read to the dogs at Operation Kindness to lower the dogs’ anxieties and help them be calmer for adoption. Students practice their reading to the dogs. 

    Penguin Collaboration with Fourth Grade and The Dallas Zoo
    First Grade students learn about penguins and their habitats in Science. Then, First Graders collaborate with the Fourth Grade students to develop habitats for the penguins who are losing their natural habitats. The Fourth and First Grade students then present their designs to the Dallas Zoo for feedback.

    Therapy Animal Education, Canine Companions
    Students meet a family that trains therapy dogs for Canine Companions. The family presents how guide dogs are trained and brings a guide dog puppy in training for the students to meet and ask questions about. Students learn how to be a good community member when they see a guide dog in public. 
    Bat Conservation
    Students learn about bat caves and habitats in Science and work together to design and build bat cave prototypes in science. As they design, students raise awareness about bats in the community through advocacy letters and a bat supply drive.

    Optional Programs for Families:
    Protect Turtles at Conservancy
    Students help clean turtle environments through the Texas Conservation Alliance in Dallas 

  • Second Grade

    Theme: Learning About the Environment

    Programs for Students:
    Eye Spy Craft for Mi Escuelita
    Students create Eye Spy games out of recycled materials during their class party. Mi Escuelita’s Community Outreach Director comes to Hockaday to speak to the students about why learning is important for PreK students, and how the Eye Spy crafts are helpful learning tools. A Second Grade family then delivers the games to Mi Escuelita. 

    River Clean Up with Trinity River Audobon Center
    Students learn about how to determine if water is polluted or not by observing what living creatures are present in the water.  Students get hands-on experience by looking through water samples and identifying organisms in the water. Students then discuss ways to help keep the water clean and reduce pollution.

    Building a Social Enterprise
    Students learn how businesses are started through Hockaday alumnae and parents sharing their experiences starting businesses. Then, the students work as a class to go through the entire process of starting a business by creating reusable grocery bags.  As a class, the students learn how to create a brand, market a product, sell the product, and the different models of using business to create social impact.  Students create a logo that encourages consumers to recycle and use reusable bags rather than plastic and then donate their profits to a local non-profit working to keep the environment clean.  

    Optional Programs for Families:
    Lower School Garden Prep
    Students join Mrs. Guerra to help prepare the garden beds for fall planting. 
  • Third Grade

    Theme: Hunger and Food Insecurity

    Programs for Students:
    UNICEF Trick or Treat for Good
    Students participate in UNICEF’s trick-or-treat challenge by raising funds for UNICEF. Students also participate in the UNICEF Kid Power ups to send RUTF’s to the countries supported by UNICEF and learn about how UNICEF supports students across the world to have access to nutritious food.

    Food Packing for Feed My Starving Children and Marcus Mart
    Students participate in a virtual field trip to get a behind-the-scenes look at the Feed My Starving Children manna packing warehouse. Students also learn from the Upper School student that runs the food pantry at the local elementary school, Marcus Elementary.

    Food Drive for Elementary School Partners
    Students learn about food deserts from North Texas Food Bank and partner with local elementary schools to provide snack backpacks to each campus.  Students create a backpack packing system to pack each backpack with snacks, a drink, and a handmade card to be delivered to local elementary campuses.  Families from Third Grade then deliver the backpacks to each campus.

    Bonton Farms Field Trip
    Students visit Bonton Farms Extension Site to learn about food deserts in Dallas and how Bonton works to combat food insecurity.  Students get hands-on experience by learning about how the goats, chickens, and garden provide fresh food to the community. 

    Dolphin Tank Social Entrepreneurship Challenge
    Students learn about the different models of creating a social entrepreneurship business. The Third Grade students attend social entrepreneurship lessons with the Upper School students in Biology, Impact, and the Zoo class.  Each Third Grade group is paired with an Upper School student to mentor them through the social entrepreneurship business process.  Then, students use their passion and interests to develop a social entrepreneurship business plan and prototype of their product.  Students then pitch their business ideas to parents, faculty, and upper school students in a “dolphin tank” setting. 

    Optional Programming for Families
    Moss Haven Farms
    Students and families help to plant and cultivate the community garden at Moss Haven Farms.
  • Fourth Grade

    Theme: Community Engagement

    Programs for Students:

    Book Donation to local elementary schools and Reading Partners
    Following the Lower School Book Sale in October, which is run by Fourth Grade students, the students then learn about the organization Reading Partners. The Community Engagement Director from Reading Partners comes to talk with the students about the importance of reading, the challenges that happen learning to read, and how access to books is a critical component of supporting literacy in Dallas.  Students then calculate the total sales from the Book Sale and donate the books and profits to Reading Partners.  

    Blanket Making for Jonathan’s Place Foster Care
    Students learn about the mission and work of Jonathan’s Place in Dallas. Fourth Graders then learn about how blankets are a need for the organization and why they are important. Students work together to create blankets as a class. A family from Fourth Grade then delivers the blankets to Jonathan’s Place.

    Inclusion Project through Jewish Family Services
    Students experience a two-hour simulation to learn about learning differences and physical disabilities to build empathy and knowledge. After the simulation, students learn how to be helpful community members. 

    Optional Programs for Families:
    Perot Science Truck
    Students attend a STEAM program facilitated by United to Learn with the Perot Museum. Students attend a series of single-lesson and multi-workshop experiences and cultivate personal relationships with peers from partner campuses. 

    For the Love of the Lake
    Students and families help to clean up the Hockaday portion of White Rock Lake on the second Saturday of every month.


Building Empathy

Advocacy Skills

Real World Experiences

Designing Solutions

Exploring Purpose

List of 3 news stories.

  • Upper School and Lower School Prototyping

    Upper School students in Biology, Impact, and the Zoo visited the Third Grade Science and Social Impact classroom to give feedback on their prototypes! 
  • Penguin Nesting Sites

    Representatives from the Dallas Zoo came to campus last week to check out our First and Fourth Graders’ penguin presentations!
  • Water Filtration

    As part of their Social Impact theme “The Environment,” Second Graders work to develop their analytical thinking and curiosity as they learn about water pollution around the world and in their own backyards.
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