My most memorable service-learning experience was creating a welcome sign at the start of our community. Tilghman Elementary school is located on an island. The sign that you saw as you entered our town was an ordinary State Highway sign that said, “Tilghman Is.” My students wanted to promote greater community pride, so they decide to advocate for and create a much more inviting identifying sign for our island.
St. Michael's Community Center
In 2003-04, I created a web quest on the internet and students researched different organizations. After all of the research, my students decided that the Talbot County United Fund was the organization that they wanted to work with. As a class, we chose this particular agency because they helped a variety of organizations in Talbot County. One organization supported by the Talbot County United Way was the St. Michael’s Community Center. A lot of my students spent many hours at the community center receiving help with homework and they realized how important this service was. The students decided to raise money to support this important community program. At the 6th grade graduation ceremony, we presented the Talbot County United Fund with a check for more than $600. As the conclusion of the project, we thought of ways to expand this project for the future.
Talbot County Humane Society Fundraiser
After teaching a service-learning unit to my sixth grade students, we discussed how they could serve their local community. Several of my students wanted to work with the local humane society. A few days after having this discussion I learned of a severe case of animal cruelty in a neighboring county. As a result seventy-five of my students agreed to develop a project that would help to supply support to two local Humane Societies. Our project included a penny drive and a pet supply drive.
Oysters in the Chesapeake Bay
Students completed an interdisciplinary unit on oystering on the Chesapeake Bay. Throughout this unit they learned about the oysters and the current conditions that have impacted the oyster population. Lastly, they developed a plan that allows students to improve the conditions surrounding the oyster population. The students used their classroom knowledge and go to the Maritime Museum where they actually worked with the oysters by gathering data on the spats' growth and the water quality of the Miles River. While at the museum, the students took an ecology cruise and a guided tour of the museum to enhance what they had learned in the classroom. After the trip was over, the students created posters, fliers, PowerPoints, etc. to share with the community surrounding St. Michael's.
Senior School Day
Our project focused on bringing students and the elderly community closer together. Students contacted a local senior/nursing center. We took a field trip to the center to meet the residents and spend time getting to understand their needs. Students began developing a senior day to be held at our school. Many organizations within the school actively became involved with our project. The day began with a tour of the school, followed by a talent show put on by classes and students, a senior luncheon with a Mexican theme, a jazz band presentation and door prizes for all.
Our canned food drive is a multi-discipline project integrated into the social studies curriculum. Students compile and graph information, promote healthy eating and gather canned foods for the local Salvation Army.
Fundraising for Kenya
Our 6th grade students completed an indirect service-learning project September through November 2001. It was our goal that students understand the needs of students around the world. We had our students work in groups to raise money to purchase school supplies to be sent to Kenya so that students there would be allowed to attend school.
I serve as the Talbot County Public Schools Service-Learning Team Leader. As such, I mentor teachers and community members in service-learning matters, serve as a community contact, prepare for and lead both a teacher in-service course and a community-based organization (CBO) training, oversee mini-grants, write service-learning grants, chair a yearly system assessment, coordinate service-learning activities, and teach the summer service-learning course for students. Best practices:
Training supplied to community organization representatives helps maintain and improve the quality of student service-learning opportunities these organization offer so that CBOs can meet community needs.
Teachers are provided a stipend and a 1-MSDE credit in-service class in which they learn about service-learning issues, quality service-learning projects, and how to infuse these into their classes.
Teachers and CBO representatives are encouraged to use a variety of reflection methods in order to help students better realize the effects of their service on their community.
Students are encouraged to write mini-grants for their projects/classes. Teachers and students are given any needed aid to achieve this goal. Students may also develop their own projects.
Community organizations are invited to attend a TCPS training brunch or dinner in which they learn about service-learning and how it applies to their needs. As a result of these training sessions, students have more and higher quality opportunities to complete their requirement, and CBOs are comfortable in contacting the service-learning coordinators to offer these opportunities.
The TCPS service-learning team conducts a yearly system assessment in order to reflect on what has been accomplished and decide goals for the following school year.
Student have TCPS service-learning team member-coordinators in their buildings to act as resources to provide the needed knowledge and skills. Additionally, a summer service-learning course is held for students to earn additional hours.
Project Sunny Day
Students in the Culinary Arts program complete a variety of service projects through our curriculum. The following describes one of many projects created to benefit elderly and disabled citizens -- Project Sunny Day.
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