Institute for Social Impact

Middle 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.
“Giving students a challenge and then using curriculum and real-world field trips to help build empathy and solve the problems deepens learning."

- Laura Day, William B. Dean Director of Service Learning; Executive Director of the Institute for Social Impact
Students in Middle School build the leadership skills outlined in the five outcomes and engage in authentic real-world opportunities for impact through Social Impact-designated courses, Social Impact clubs, leadership opportunities, and class projects. Each grade level offers a rigorous course connecting academics to real-world application and problem-solving. Each Middle School student experiences multiple opportunities to develop leadership skills and find explore their purpose through our various programs throughout the year. 

Social Impact Courses
Fifth Grade: World Geography 
Sixth Grade: English 
Seventh Grade: Science
Eighth Grade: English
Grade Level Themes
Fifth Grade: Homelessness 
Sixth Grade: Water
Seventh Grade: Food Access
Eighth Grade: Community Engagement  


Learn More

List of 4 frequently asked questions.

  • Fifth Grade

    Theme: Homelessness

    Social Impact Class: World Geography
    The World Geography curriculum, with its emphasis on culture, human-environment interaction and earth’s physical processes, ties in easily with Hockaday’s Institute for Social Impact. With the global issues provided by the textbook, fifth graders learn about the challenges facing modern nations and the solutions being explored by scientists, engineers and everyday people all around the world. As the first Social Impact course students take in Middle School, the focus is on building empathy and working toward solutions.

    Changemakers Program
    Fifth Graders begin to explore the different facets of homelessness, including defining it and learning what our city does about homelessness. After talking through different solutions, students begin to think about solutions.

    In February, they connect with CitySquare, a nonprofit offering a comprehensive array of social services that address four key areas related to the persistence of poverty: hunger, health, housing, and hope

    They then tour Family Gateway, a nonprofit that provides stability and life-changing supportive services to children and families affected by homelessness.

    Social Impact Leaders Program
    Students meet during a Fine Arts rotation to develop leadership skills through four sessions. Students use noticing to develop empathy, identify opportunities for impact in their communities, and discover their purpose throughout the three sessions.

    Optional Programs for Families:
    Packing Snack Bags for Family Gateway
    Students learn about Family Gateway and then create snack bags to deliver.
  • Sixth Grade

    Theme: Water

    Social Impact Class: English
    In Sixth Grade English, we focus on critical thinking through literature selections that address themes of tolerance, courage, friendship and family. When students read about the lives and experiences of other strong females, texts serve as a window for students to discover purpose and empowerment to put their creative ideas into action to serve their community.

    Changemakers Program
    Students engage in hands-on learning about their theme, water within the global and local context. Students engage with UNICEF’s initiatives around clean water access and learned ways to get involved. 

    Students create advocacy posters about water use to bring awareness around the Hockaday community.

    Students go on a field trip to the Trinity River Audobon Center to learn about water and the environment within the Dallas community. Students engage in water testing to determine pollution levels within water and are given a challenge to learn how we might raise awareness and create change around water use and pollution in Dallas. In the afternoon, students return to campus to talk through brainstorming solutions using the Design Thinking process.

    Optional Programs for Families:
    Helping clean water and the environment with Texas Conservation Alliance
    Students help to clean the environment and learn how animals in Dallas are impacted by pollution.
  • Seventh Grade

    Theme: Food Insecurity

    Social Impact Class: Science
    Seventh Grade Science focuses on the atmosphere, as we investigate how invisible matter and energy move through atmospheric systems and identify our role in and impact on these systems. Within the course, students are empowered to think beyond the classroom and discover how we, as scientists, can use our knowledge of atmospheric systems to design hands-on solutions to real-world problems that have a direct impact our local and global communities.

    Changemakers Program
    Students build empathy by learning about food insecurity in Dallas and the local community. Students discover food deserts within Dallas and the history and context.  Students also brainstorm about how to have impact and learn about current nonprofits working to solve this issue in Dallas.
    Students learn about local DISD elementary schools and create snack bags to deliver to students at the schools for afternoon snacks and to help with testing season.
    Students bring their prototypes from Science class around generating power to charge cell phones without an outlet to gather feedback from the community at CitySquare.  The students go to CitySquare to learn about food insecurity in Dallas and help out in the food pantry and created crafts for students in the summer programming. Students then returned to Hockaday to reflect and brainstorm ideas.

    Optional Programs for Families:
    CitySquare Food Pantry restock
    Students and their families help to restock the food pantry at CitySquare
  • Eighth Grade

    Theme: Community Engagement
    Opportunities for Students:

    Social Impact Class: English
    In Eighth Grade English, students will explore the ways in which history and lived experiences help us navigate personal and community challenges, change, and growth, and in turn, how writing allows us to process and express these changes in us and the world around us.

    Changemakers Program
    October, students built empathy around their theme, community engagement.  Students learned about social impact opportunities from their Upper School peers on a panel. Upper School students shared how they found their purpose and what they are doing to create change within their community. Eighth Grade students got to ask questions around social impact and learn from their upper school peers. 

    Eighth Grade engage in a noticing morning to build leadership skills around intentional listening, building empathy, and making connections between their academics and the real world. 

    Students do a deep dive into social impact problems in the community. Students built empathy by playing an immersive game to learn about poverty, and engaged in intentional reflections to discuss how they might learn more and help to create change.

    Students learn about animals in Dallas in the DAS and the Dallas Zoo. Students worked together to build two doghouse shelters for the Dallas Zoo to use for cloud leopards and wolves recovering from injuries.  

    Students connect with Fourth Grade students at McShan Elementary school in Dallas ISD to interview refugee students to build conversation skills with the students. The  Eight Graders then create graphic novel pages for each McShan student where the student was the hero of the story. 

    Optional Programs for Families:
    For the Love of the Lake, White Rock Lake
    Students and families helped to clean the area of White Rock Lake


Building Empathy

Advocacy Skills

Real World Experiences

Designing Solutions

Exploring Purpose

List of 3 news stories.

  • Sixth Graders Work With Conservation Alliance

    Sixth graders collaborated with St. Mark's School and the Texas Conservation Alliance in a cleanup event and a challenge to design solutions for cleaning and protecting plants and wildlife along the creek, aligning with their social impact theme of water.
  • Seventh Grade Learns About Soil

    Seventh Grade took a social impact field trip with St. Mark's this week.
  • First Grade and Middle School Spreading Love

    On Valentine's Day, the pets at Dallas Animal Services experienced the most heart-melting Valentine’s Day surprise, thanks to the incredible kindness of Hockaday’s First Graders! 
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