Maryland is the first state in the nation to require high school students to engage in service-learning activities as a condition of graduation. Each of the 24 school districts in Maryland implements the service-learning graduation requirement differently, because they tailor the specifics of their program to their local community.
History of Service-Learning in Maryland
What does a service-learning project look like?
· Biology classes at C. Milton Wright High School in Harford County grew submerged aquatic vegetation know as wild celery in their classrooms as part of the Grasses in Classes project sponsored by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Students then planted the grasses in the Bay to help improve the overall health of the Chesapeake Bay.
· Fairmount-Harford High School Students in Baltimore City were all involved in a renovation of an abandoned community lot. This multidisciplinary project had students designing and maintaining the lot. They have mapped and cleared the lot, researched and planted appropriate vegetation, and built picnic tables and a gazebo.
· Stevensville Middle School students in Queen Anne's County engage in a project called Serving Seniors, a service-learning unit connected to math, science, social studies, and language arts/reading classes in partnership with the Department of Aging. Students define service-learning, study citizenship, and become aware of the needs of the community, especially the changing physical and mental characteristics of aging. Students then develop relationships with elderly residents of their community who are living in nursing homes or are involved with a senior center.
· See our growing archive of high-quality service-learning Project Ideas.
Service-learning is not the same as...
Volunteerism: Volunteers engage in service for a variety of personal reasons. They do not necessarily link their service to academic studies nor do they receive academic credit for their efforts.
Community Service: People engaging in community service do so for a variety of reasons. This is a broad term that can encompass court ordered, stipended or volunteer service. It also does not necessarily link to academic studies.
Work Study Internship: Student interns frequently work at for-profit business to benefit the financial standing of that business. They are not necessarily working to improve their communities through these internship experiences. There can be overlap between work study internships and service-learning. Students are engaged in service-learning if through their internship experiences they work to improve the health or welfare of their community while linking this to their academic studies.