Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Service Learning adds depth to curriculum, support to recipients

There’s a brigade of more than 3,000 young people on a mission … actually, lots of missions; not the least of which is making a difference for their community.

Community service hours are part of 27J’s graduation requirements. Each high school student must complete 20 hours of service over the course of their high school career … or 5 hours a year for each year he/she attends a 27J high school.

Do the math: 3,000 kids in 27J high schools today x 5 hours for one year = 15,000 hours of community service in a year. Divide that by 40 hours and you see this brigade is providing on average 375 weeks of community service per year!

And that’s just what’s accounted for.

“We have many students who perform in excess of 200 hours of community service,” Jill Woolford said, “but they only provide us the documentation for their required 20 hours.” Woolford is part of the Brighton High School Counseling Office team.
What does this community service look like?

One example is the Prairie View High School “Give Thanks for the Troops” campaign that received attention when Channel 7 did a story showing the students packing rooms full of boxes with gifts for the troops. The care-package gifts were collected, boxes packed, they had places to go … but no postage to send them when a sponsorship fell through.

The Channel 7 spot enticed several area residents to join the students in their mission and contribute enough postage for those care packages … and more to come.

Most community service projects don’t receive that degree of attention but for the recipients of the good works, the help is golden.

Every year, School District 27J students touch the lives of young and elderly, people and animals, while supporting services such as food banks and health care in settings from churches to schools to hospitals to state parks to veterans’ agencies.

Here is a sampling of the ways lives are touched: being a conversation pal for Spanish foreign exchange students, mentoring younger students, helping 9News Health Fair, providing hours to the City of Brighton, helping on Breast Cancer Awareness, participating in Community Emergency Response Training, helping with school registration, working in animal shelters and animal hospitals, being part of Rampart Search & Rescue Explorers, coaching at youth sports camps, helping at Police Departments, school libraries, youth group fundraisers, manual labor for a church in New Mexico, teaching vacation bible school, peer mediation, hospital receiving assistant, veterans’ nursing service, building a fire department burn platform, working a youth athletics concession stand.

As noted on the Colorado Department of Education Web site:
“Service-Learning is... a teaching strategy that intentionally combines service activities with learning objectives. This is accomplished by combining a service activity with structured opportunities that link to self-reflection, self-discovery, and the acquisition and comprehension of specific content knowledge.

Effective service-learning projects have the following components:
1) Investigating community issues;
2) Planning a service project;
3) Acting to address the community issue/problem;
4) Reflecting on the service project, the experience and the process;
5) Demonstration of the students’ work by the students to a wider audience;
6) Celebration
Service-Learning combines SERVICE with LEARNING in intentional ways.”

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