Service Learning Helps Students, Society
Byline: TEAM SPRINGFIELD By Michelle Jensen For The Register-Guard
Are you worried about the environment? So are Springfield students. From water testing to creek restoration, invasive species removal to animal protection, Springfield students are making inroads into addressing community problems.
These students, along with more than 3,000 others working in different areas, have been engaging in service learning this year. Service Learning Demonstration Day today will give the public an opportunity to see some of these projects.
So just what is service learning? Service learning integrates high-quality academic learning with meaningful community service, enriching students' learning while teaching them civic responsibility.
This year, there are more than 50 different service learning projects in Springfield schools. Funded by a state Learn and Serve grant, Springfield offers teachers training, mini-grants, technical assistance and a service learning library.
Service learning projects range from single classrooms to schoolwide efforts.
Erin Whitlock's students at Agnes Stewart Middle School are working to reduce unwanted pets and feral cats by promoting community education via a brochure of local resources and tips.
Hamlin Middle School teachers Stacey Torres and Keslie Downs' English Language Learner students are using their new English skills to create a bilingual drug and alcohol prevention program for elementary students.
Other projects include Thurston Elementary students making quilts for the Red Cross; Thurston Middle School students working with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to protect salmon; and Thurston High Arts in Motion students teaching art, photography and video skills to younger students.
How do these projects fit into the curriculum? One example is the work that James Underwood's peer leaders have done at Thurston High School.
Through a $5,000 Community 101 grant (co-funded by the Oregon Department of Education and the PG&E Foundation) students have established and now run a mini-foundation. They began by surveying the student body for key community concerns. Child abuse and hunger emerged as critical issues.
Students' work includes researching local community agencies, developing a proposal process, soliciting and reviewing grant proposals, conducting site visits, interviewing potential grantees and awarding grants to local community agencies. …