• Community
  • Engagement

The Community Engagement and Experiential Learning (CEEL) curriculum at Georgetown Day School deepens students’ understanding of our community and the world we live in through active, purposeful, and reflective PK-12 programs that challenge students to collaborate, build empathy, explore new places and perspectives, and take meaningful informed action.

These programs are embedded in students’ school life as full-grade off-campus learning experiences, student-led advocacy initiatives, and group or individual community service activities – all of which often have ties to classroom curricula. Community Engagement at GDS entails working closely with local community organizations and national groups, while simultaneously deepening students’ connections to their own school community.

Community service has been a bedrock of the GDS mission since its founding. We firmly believe that active work in the community helps prepare students to be empathetic and effective agents of change in the world beyond our school walls. GDS uses a combination of instruction, service, real-world collaboration, and reflection to inspire students to become fully engaged citizens in diverse communities. We do this through programs such as our High School Community Engagement requirement in which all high students must complete 60 hours of approved volunteer work by the second semester of their senior year, and through our Middle School GDS Corps, in which each grade tackles pressing social justice issues through active on-campus learning and off-campus fieldwork. 

By interacting with experts within and outside of their communities, our students learn empathy and how to think critically about real-world problems. They leave GDS prepared for the future, with better communication and collaboration skills, deep curiosity, and the tools to address the systemic inequities that exist in the world.

Students pose in Puerto Rico
Hoppers travel to Puerto Rico to support rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Maria.
Students working together on a craft
Third graders partner with students at Centronia, a bilingual school in Columbia Heights, to complete an art project.
Students gardening
Middle schoolers work in the garden at Capital Area Food Bank.
Students cooking
Students walking in desert
Students travel to the Navajo Nation every summer to learn about Navajo history and culture and work alongside community partners in Arizona and New Mexico.
Students playing on a field
While on the Navajo Trip, students engage with Navajo and Pueblo youth.
Students pose in front of recycling truck
Lower School students learn about environmental sustainability and recycling.


Through a focus on community engagement, GDS students will...

  • Gain a deepened understanding of inequities and injustice in the world.
  • Develop relationships with communities beyond our campus.
  • Realize individual and collective agency in meeting the needs of others.
  • Advocate for social justice issues through dialogue, art, and action.
  • Engage in ongoing reflection about their place and purpose in the world.

Signature Programs


For four weeks during June and July, students learn about pressing social justice issues, such as economic inequality, immigration, the gun debate, sexual assault and consent, and environmental justice. Learn More »


Each February, GDS high school students and faculty participate in a three-day immersive and experiential learning experience wholly separate from the normal day-to-day academic program of the school. These experiences are designed from the passions and interests of faculty and staff -- passions that may or may not fall within the purview of their academic disciplines.

5th Grade Green Corps

The 5th grade will focus on community-level environmental justice efforts, through planting and maintenance work in the GDS greenhouse and on-campus green spaces, and by cultivating classroom hydroponic gardens. Students will travel to local urban farms and food justice organizations to deepen their understanding of food production and accessibility.

6th Grade District Corps

 The 6th grade will explore DC’s 8 wards to familiarize themselves with local places, history, and culture. Students will take a field trip to each ward to meet with prominent activists, policy-makers, artists, and story-tellers. And through dialogue and action, they will learn about the spirit of Washington, DC and the people who inhabit it.

7th Grade Care Corps

The 7th grade will explore the question: how can I care for myself, my community, and the DMV region? Students will travel to and volunteer with local community health organizations and participate in hands-on practice of healthy habits. They will learn how self-care is a necessary tool for activism, and as a grade, spend time connecting with nature and each other as they work to ensure that GDS is a healthy and thriving learning space.  

8th Grade Citizen Corps

In 8th grade, students grapple with pressing national issues of equity and access in their classrooms and CEEL learning spaces. Through research and conversations with experts, students learn about a selected social justice issue using their hearts, heads, and hands, before calling the rest of their school community to action.

Buddy program

The Buddy Program is a school-wide initiative that pairs older High School or Middle School students with younger Middle or Lower School buddies for mentorship, community-building, and fun!


Summit on sexual assault and consent

Each year, the GDS High School hosts a national Summit on Sexual Assault and Consent, bringing together students, educators, policymakers, survivors, and more to have meaningful conversations and take action to create a safer, more equitable society. Learn more >>

Community Engagement - HS internships
HS Internship Program

The Internship Program aims to provide GDS High School students with meaningful educational experiences in real-world work settings during the summer before their senior year. Through the Internship Program, we aim to place passionate students in professional spaces that touch upon their interests and stimulate their career ambitions, while also allowing them to meaningfully support the day-to-day work of the host organization. The GDS Internship program has connected approximately 250 students with internships across a wide array of fields in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. 


Our Stories

Students smiling on steps

In an effort to welcome GDS students in the new year with joy and purpose, we introduce Joyful January x CAN-uary.

Meet the Team

Winnie Kong

CEEL Coordinator

Michelle McKeever

Associate Director of CEEL

Leigh Tait

Director of Community Engagement & Experiential Learning