Teachers/Students as Partners in Service Learning becomes reality when participants design & implement projects that reflect collaborations not only with each other but with Community & Higher Education Partners. Involvement begins on Day 1 as the CHESP Advisory Council insures student input in disseminating, reviewing, & signing CHESP Grant Applications. Student Representatives actively participate in our Awards Orientation, & every student contributes to end-of-the-year Reflections & Reports.
Designing a wide range of Service Learning projects, students raise funds for Katrina victims & repair storm-ravaged housing during vacations, donate time & money to women’s shelters, work at food banks, tutor non-English speaking peers, help design small high schools, beautify school grounds, write letters to seniors & soldiers, & improve the environment. One student reflects, I’m working to make school a better place.
Hopefully these selected projects from the CHESP Sampler show how partners enhance Service Learning.
Discussing Community Violence
Preserving Our Wetlands
Displaying Forensic Science Info
Boston Youth Respond to Community Violence
Technology drove English teacher Anthony Jacobs & his students at West Roxbury’s Media Communications & Technology (MCT) High to engage young people in a conversation about violence. Attending the Boston Youth Film Festival & helped by staff from Tufts University College of Citizenship and Public Service (now Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service), students produced a film on a subject that concerns us all. Books like Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five & movies like Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing motivated the young producers to invite The Boston Globe’s Derrick Jackson & CBS4 News Anchor Josh Binswanger to the classroom.
A student summarized the 5 month effort, It made me realize that many voices go unheard because people fail to raise them . . . I hope our movie will inspire folks to use their voices and speak out against violence!
So far, students have shared their film with their peers and local middle schoolers. Next step: Submission to the Boston Youth Film Festival for wider audience reaction.
Reflects their teacher: Students became my teacher as they described violence in their own communities. Convinced that they have meaningful stories, several of them are producing a sequel— true testament to their commitment to active citizenship.
Reaching Out for a New Healthy Life
When Angela Cappucci & her Latino Culture Advisory students at Health Careers Academy (HCA) decided to inform friends & neighbors about community health issues, they looked to the experts. Specialists from Massachusetts General Hospital, Bouvé College of Health Sciences at Northeastern University & Inflexxion, Inc., a company dedicated to improved health care, helped young investigators research teen health topics. They conducted surveys, planned a website, & prepared a bilingual newsletter that they distributed throughout their school & communities.
Writes their teacher: We decided to concentrate on health issues because every student knew at least one family member suffering from physical or emotional problems. Students themselves were struggling with asthma, obesity, STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases) & depression. … Guest speakers gave students a chance to understand these issues before sharing their knowledge with peers and family.
I learned that we can do a lot to educate our parents and help our community by listening and talking to experts, reflected a Student Representative. I want to become a doctor and work in my community. It’s not easy for Hispanic students to continue with higher education, but now I know I can do it with the support of my parents, my teachers, & my community.
Forensic Science & Its Effect on the Law
Anton Dormer & his Chemistry class at Hyde Park’s Social Justice Academy (SJA) are forging long-term partnerships along with improving abilities to problem solve & think critically. Students demonstrated their forensic lab skills at a Mock Court facilitated by students & professors at Northeastern University School of Law. They also presented forensic science information to high schoolers in the YMCA Black Achievers program. This led to a DVD collaboratively produced with Home, Inc. Some SJA students are planning internships with local minority judges as a result of working with their higher ed partners.
To quote Dr. Dormer, Great things start from small beginnings…. Students were able to participate in the Alaska Youth Court Program. In addition, SJA joined the National Forensic League and will field a team to compete in Mock Court challenges presented by the Massachusetts Bar Association. Finally, Northeastern University School of Law & the Black Student Law Association have designated SJA as a collaborating school for whom they will create long-term projects.
Feedback from one observer was encouraging, Using SJA students to conduct a mock trial was very creative & more than anything helped the audience understand what the Law Office hoped to achieve. The students were clearly well prepared.
One Vote Counts
Most seniors in Kerry Evans’ Humanities class at West Roxbury’s Parkway Academy of Technology & Health (PATH) are or soon will be 18. With voting privileges finally a reality, they decided to study how voting patterns currently affect the nation. Inviting a City Councilor to discuss important issues, students prioritized concerns most important to them. (Housing came first.) Voting data from the University of Texas’s Institute for Civic Participation motivated them to organize a Voter Registration Day. With 40% of the Senior Class joining the ranks of registered voters, the day was a success.
Confirming this, their teacher reported, Students now realize that one vote, their vote, counts a great deal. Empowered that they themselves can make a change, I trust they will participate in the political process, even run for office or work for someone trying to become an elected official.
One student described his research, I came across a website that described events in U.S. where one vote has made a difference. In 1868, one vote saved President Andrew Johnson from impeachment. If it weren’t for one vote in 1776, we might be speaking German instead of English. One vote definitely can make a difference.
Preserving Our Wetlands
Boston College’s Urban Ecology Institute unit on bird biodiversity motivated students of the PATH Physics teacher Scott Bartholomew and Urban Science Academy’s (USA) Biology teacher Brooke Spencer to investigate West Roxbury’s campus wetlands. Soon they were sharing their knowledge at lunchtime Info Sessions. “Quick Quizzes” let presenters gauge attitudinal changes towards the environment. An all campus “Clean Up Event” involved 15 Student Leaders who motivated over 500 students, teachers, & administrators to collect more than 100 bags of trash including a bike & a picnic table.
Wrote one teacher, Initially, students were ambivalent about how they would attract peers to watch lunchtime presentations. However, helped by their own promotional materials, they became great at recruiting. The project included a diverse range of learners and played to the strengths of some who have problems with traditional biology assignments. Finally, each session fostered a cooperative learning environment that hadn’t existed before.
A Student Leader of the “Clean Up Event” wrote, I made sure everyone had something to do. I realize that it’s up to us, the younger generation. If adults see that we’re committed, they’ll also want to protect the environment. We shouldn’t stop here. We should keep cleaning and posting signs reminding folks to preserve our wetlands.
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