Institute for Social Impact

Upper 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.
"My hope is that each of my Hockaday classmates finds that passion and purpose that makes them radiate with love and curiosity, and then keeps up that passion to pass it on to the people behind us." 

- Cate Goglia '22
The Institute for Social Impact exists to help students lead lives of purpose and impact. Students in Upper School build the leadership skills outlined in the five outcomes and engage in authentic real-world opportunities for impact.

Upper School offers rigorous courses connecting academics to real-world application and problem-solving. Courses with the Social Impact designation directly align with the four pillars of community engagement, community service, service learning, and social entrepreneurship that define the Institute for Social Impact.

Throughout each course, students will complete alternative assessments to evaluate 21st-century skills such as empathy, creativity, collaboration, and purpose as well as measure the overall social impact experienced by our community partners.

Students can also engage with the Institute through Athletics and Fine Arts partnerships. Many graduating seniors cite their Social Impact work as some of the most meaningful experiences they have at Hockaday. 

Social Impact Courses

List of 6 frequently asked questions.

  • English

    Before “Me Too”: Literature as Protest 
    Engage in a class co-taught with Irma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership Academy, a local public all-girls school
    • Explore novels that concentrate on the empowerment of women and build empathy through shared experiences and storytelling 
    • Form a partnership with Break Bread, Break Borders, a non-profit whose mission is to promote personal growth in women

    Literature of Minorities 
    Explore the powerful works of black, Muslim, Jewish, Hispanic, and other ethnic, religious, and cultural identities and interrogate the category of “minority” 
    • Examine how underrepresented people in a society respond to the dominant power structure through readings 
    • Show how the texts themselves act as subversive forces while at the same time resist conforming to the rigid standards of the literary canon 
    • Move from reading to action and make an impact in the Dallas community
  • Mathematics

    Integrated Math III Enriched
    Establish a working partnership with Marsh Preparatory Academy, a local public school serving students from predominately low-income families
    • Recognize that mathematics studied in class is visible all around us. Design and implement “Math Walks” at Marsh Preparatory Academy that merge virtual reality with algebraic concepts 
    • Decrease identified learning barriers by enhancing student understanding of the role of math in their daily surroundings and how to use mathematical concepts for social impact
    • Collaborate and engage in a class where data combined with mathematical ideas transform the way one  looks at the world    
    • Explore different ways of visualizing, modeling, and making sense of data from daily life, the community, and the world.
    • Address issues of choice through data collection, visualizations, analysis, and interpretation to develop the tools to raise awareness and instill empathy within the individual and the community.
  • Science

    Biology, Impact, and the Zoo  
    Engage in a biology class co-taught with W.T. White High School, a local public high school and learn the similarities and differences between living organisms
    • Collaborate and apply design thinking to solve environmental issues in partnership with experts from the Dallas Zoo 
    • Produce a culminating pitch to area industry leaders in a “shark tank” setting that addresses an identified environmental problem and competes for funding 
    Environmental Chemistry 
    Learn and apply chemistry in the context of societal issues
    • Engage in laboratory investigations to learn proper procedures and data analysis
    • Conduct field research to design a solution to an environmental problem applying chemistry knowledge
    • Chemistry content will include matter and its structure and properties, chemical reactions, and energy transformations.
    AP Environmental Science 
    • Partner with Trinity Audobon Center to focus on how to cultivate and protect native species 
    • Consider how the nature of a particular environment impacts access to food, and identify the food issues currently impacting our community
    • Engage in a yearlong study focused on creating and implementing change within Dallas’ food issues and environmental projects
    Students delve into how the brain’s 86 billion nerve cells organize themselves into functional circuits enabling us to think, feel, move, and perform complex behaviors.
    • Using the lens of Neuroscience, students will complete a synthesis project while creating an impact on the greater community
    • Learn the fundamentals of Neuroscience through readings of primary scientific literature, in-class discussions of these readings, and through hands-on laboratories such as a sheep brain dissection
    Social Impact Synthesis
    Interlace ever-changing future trends
    • Apply concepts of artificial intelligence, app design, coding, synthesis, and impact in an agile class that changes based on current trends and events
    • Apply purpose and infuse the journey at Hockaday to the real world in this ever-changing, 21st century skill-building class
    • Taught by multiple teachers from various departments, industry leaders, Alumnae worldwide, and community visionaries
  • World Languages

    Spanish in the Community
    Help the Dallas Spanish-speaking community through practicum work in education, geriatrics, and healthcare  
    • Analyze and address issues specifically related to healthcare access within the Spanish speaking population
    • Enhance your own language fluency through community engagement 
  • Fine Arts

    Chamber Orchestra 
    Apply musical knowledge and skills to design and teach a weekly music enrichment course for a local public elementary school without access to music education  
    • Inspire future musicians
    • Improve school readiness and engagement through music 
    Hockaday Theater Company: Drama 
    Perform and teach the art of drama and storytelling at a local public elementary school without access to performing arts  
    • Decrease the standardized testing gap by exposing students to language and theater terminology
    • Ultimately improve school readiness 
    Dance Lab
    Study various types of dance with a focus on ballet and contemporary techniques. 
    • Share the joy of dance throughout the Dallas community with performances and student-led dance projects with partner elementary schools
    • Designed for the intermediate/advanced dancer, to explore a variety of dance techniques in greater depth with choreography and performance opportunities.
    Hockaday Dance Theater
    Share the joy of dance throughout the Dallas community with performances and student-led dance projects with partner elementary schools
    • Serve as the principal performing ensemble of the dance program at Hockaday (selected through audition)
    • Demonstrate imagination, dedication, and reliability and expand approach to the creative process
    • Design, choreograph, and perform dance pieces in collaboration 
    • Attend master classes, taught by guest artists
  • History

    Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Economics and Social Entrepreneurship 
    Participate in a class based in economic principles and the incubation of a business
    • Engage in real world learning from co-teachers who are Hockaday alumnae and industry leaders
    • Develop and pitch a culminating socially conscious business plan that addresses a current world issue, and compete
      for funding

    U.S. History: Public Perspectives and Community Action 
    Examine the historical processes of America’s past with a focus on how individual stories and grand narratives are used to shape our present
    • Explore the role of public history in sharing those stories and narratives to create a sense of identity, shared purpose, and belonging
    • Focus on hands-on projects that provide an opportunity to engage in historical research of local communities and to apply historical findings to real-world settings.
    U.S. Government
    Participate in a civics-based class that features lecturers from city, state, and federal government
    • Identify a local, national, or world issue and draft a bill to create change, applying working knowledge of democracy
    • Propose mock legislation to local government officials and use their own advocacy skills to take action. 

    Global Issues
    Collaborate in a current events seminar and grapple with major socio-political issues facing our world today. 
    • Understand global events in their historical and international contexts to become better-informed citizens and leaders. 
    • Raise awareness of contemporary world events and how they impact local communities by identifying and implementing concrete action in the community to help address a global issue.

Recurring Programs

List of 8 frequently asked questions.

  • Habitat for Humanity

    Hockaday students build a home with Habitat for Humanity and St. Mark’s on Saturdays.
  • Genesis Women’s Shelter

    Hockaday students volunteer once a week on Tuesday evenings to help with childcare at Genesis while the residents attend counseling and support groups.
  • Marcus Elementary Food Pantry

    Hockaday students created a food pantry at Marcus Elementary school that is open on Thursdays during Y Period for families to come and shop for items at no cost. Hockaday students repurpose one Y period per week on Thursdays to open the pantry, restock, build relationships, and take inventory of the pantry each week.  Students can also sign up to help restock the pantry on Tuesday mornings. The pantry receives food donations from Hockaday Fine Arts events as the cost of entry for each event.
  • STEM/Robotics Club at Joe May Elementary

    Hockaday students repurpose a Y period each week to lead Fifth Grade students in STEM activities to build interest and knowledge in science and math. Additionally, students can also participate in teaching robotics to elementary students once a week during Y period for FLL Robotics.
  • Tutoring

    Kramer Elementary School
    Students support the DISD district reading goal of increasing Third Grade reading mastery levels from 40.2% to 57% in all areas by June 2025. Hockaday students meet with groups of students once a week during conference time to work on reading together. 

    Nathan Adam Elementary 
    Hockaday students repurpose their conference time twice a week to work with small groups of students at Nathan Adams Elementary to reach their yearly reading goals. 

    Intellichoice Tutoring
    Hockaday students work with Kindergarten-Eighth Grade students virtually once a month from 10:00-11:30 am or 2:00-3:30 pm on Saturday to tutor students in math skills. 

    Summit Tutoring at T.R. Hoover
    Hockaday students can select to tutor students on Saturday mornings at the T.R. Hoover center in math, reading, and science.  This recurring program also tutors during Y periods once a six-day rotation with students from Bush Elementary school.

    Girl Talk
    Twice a month, Hockaday students mentor and tutor middle school girls at Hockaday through curriculum that guides conversations around cyber bullying, body image, academics, identity, etc. Junior and Seniors at Hockaday lead this program.

    Reading Partners
    Hockaday students work one on one with students Kindergarten-Third grade who are between six months and 2.5 years below expected reading level. This program meets in person and virtually throughout the year once or twice a week. 

    Chapel Hill Preparatory
    Hockaday students repurpose two conference periods a week to tutor Kindergarten and First grade students at Chapel Hill Preparatory in Math and tutor Fourth Grade students in reading.

    Gooch Elementary
    Hockaday students can tutor once a week during the school day, or sign up to tutor on Saturday mornings to support students in reading, writing, and math. 

    Degolyer Elementary
    Hockaday students create reading games and activities to use to work with Third Grade students who have been identified as below grade level reading once a week.

    Uplift Education 
    Hockaday students repurpose a Y period once a six-day rotation to tutor in West Dallas at the Boys and Girls Club, working with students from Uplift Education in reading and math.

    Anne Frank Impact Program
    Students lead and create activities for preschool-aged students in Spanish and English to support literacy readiness goals such as letter identification.
  • Austin Street Shelter

    Once a month, students volunteer to play bingo with the residents of Austin Street Shelter.
  • Operation Kindness

    Hockaday students that are 16 years and older work with Operation Kindness to become trained volunteers that help with socializing animals at the shelter, cleaning at the shelter, and organizing materials. Students of any age can sign up to bake dog treats.
  • Rays of Light/Down Syndrome Guild

    Hockaday students create activities for working with special needs students in Dallas. Rays of Light is an organization committed to providing free care to families with special needs. The Down Syndrome Guild provides information and support for families of individuals with Down Syndrome.


Building Empathy

Advocacy Skills

Real World Experiences

Designing Solutions

Exploring Purpose

List of 3 news stories.

  • Learning Math Through Games

    Upper School students visited Marsh Middle School recently to work with students.
  • 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! 
  • Shark Tank Winners

    This week, the Biology, Impact, and the Zoo class, a Social Impact class taught by Brandi Finazzo and Laura Day, held the sixth annual BIZ Shark Tank Pitch Contest. 
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