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Join the Youth Advisory Council

Posted By NYLC, Friday, March 29, 2019

(This article was originally posted on December 27, 2019 on

For 35 years, the National Youth Leadership Council has tapped into the passion, creativity, and ingenuity of all young people to make meaningful change happen. Our Youth Advisory Council is a team of servant-leaders dedicated to promoting youth leadership, service-learning, and education equity. By providing valuable perspectives to inform NYLC programming, including Teen Driver Safety, Education Equity, and Youth Leadership, YAC members contribute to the success of NYLC in reaching our mission to create a more just, sustainable, and peaceful world with young people, their schools, and their communities through service-learning.

YAC work alongside NYLC staff at the National Service-Learning Conference® and present various youth leadership workshops and trainings across the country. As a Youth Advisory Council member, YAC have an opportunity to use their talents and strengths to help NYLC develop young leaders. Together, we are leading the way to address real world issues with all young people, inspiring them to Serve. Learn. Change the world.®

Join the next generation of youth leaders by submitting your application by January 26, 2019!

Learn more and apply today!

Tags:  education equity  teen driver safety  Youth Advisory Council  youth leadership  youth leadership development  youth voice 

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Youth Voice Reigns in 2018

Posted By NYLC, Friday, March 29, 2019
Updated: Friday, March 29, 2019

(This article was originally posted on December 28th, 2018 on

The end of the year is a wonderful time to look back—to reflect on all that has happened.

In 2018, young people across our nation stood together to address an issue that adults have swept under the rug for years — gun control. They found their voice, their passion, and took action. In February, the students of Parkland, Florida inspired young people across the nation to stand up and take action on gun violence. On March 24, for 17 minutes, at 10 a.m. across every time zone, students protested Congress’ inaction to do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to the gun violence plaguing our schools and neighborhoods.  Young people found their voice and together, they told the world that change is needed.

It is young people’s passion and commitment to making the world a better place that has inspired the work of NYLC for the past 35 years. When students engage in service-learning they gain academic knowledge, interpersonal skills, self-confidence, and civic knowledge and skills. They learn they have the power to make a positive change in the world by working with people with diverse perspectives. Young people gain a better understanding of themselves as they explore and develop ways to contribute to their communities. They develop self-confidence and an enhanced commitment to public service.

In 2018, young people showed the courage and tenacity to demand respect from our leaders and from each of us. They showed us all that they are ready and willing to Serve. Learn. Change the World.®

Tags:  civic action  civic engagement  civics  learning  service  service-learning  student engagement  youth leadership  youth voice 

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“National Service should become the common expectation and common experience of all Americans.” Senator Harris Wofford (1926-2019)

Posted By NYLC, Friday, March 29, 2019

(This article was originally posted on March 1, 2019 on

By:  James C. Kielsmeier, Ph.D., NYLC Founder/ CEO (Ret), and Senior Scholar

On Saturday, March 2, Harris Wofford will be honored at a Memorial Service at Howard University in Washington, D.C., his law school alma mater.  Harris died January 21, the national holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr.

Harris Wofford will be remembered for his pivotal leadership in the civil rights struggles of the 1950s and 60s and for the past 60 years, as America’s most important champion of nonmilitary national service and volunteerism. We have Harris to thank for key leadership of the Peace Corps during the Kennedy presidential campaign and Administration. Then without wavering, Wofford continued to build the intellectual, political and organizational leadership foundations for the modern nonmilitary national and community service movement we know today.

In 1979 Harris acknowledged an earlier proposal for the Peace Corps by US Senator Hubert Humphrey (D-MN) in his 1986 biography (Of Kennedys and Kings, 1980) well before JFK embraced the concept. This generosity of sharing credit to advance a greater good distinguishes Harris as a rarity among modern political leaders and helps explain the success of the service movement.

I met Harris in 1989 at the National Governor’s Association annual meeting in Chicago when I was part of Minnesota Governor Rudy Perpich’s delegation charged with exploring how Minnesota could grow volunteer service and service-learning. Harris represented Pennsylvania at the Chicago meetings and shared with me his national vision for civic service.  His buoyant personality and shared insights borne of decades of public policy debate and scholarship captured my attention and began three decades of friendship and collaboration.

Harris was both consistent and persistent. In his brief tenure in the US Senate from Pennsylvania (1991-94) he created legislation identifying the Martin Luther King Holiday as a  Day of Service. After being defeated for reelection, Harris was appointed by President Clinton to become CEO of the embattled Corporation for National and Community Service / AmeriCorps. Harris quickly built bridges to sympathetic Republican lawmakers including Dave Durenberger (R-MN), a key Republican national service proponent.

Harris Wofford believed that service should be introduced in schools as an effective “on ramp” to full time National Service/AmeriCorps. Service-learning was already well established in many state K-12 and higher education systems across the country in 1995. That year, National Youth Leadership Council (NYLC) worked closely with Harris and the Corporation for National and Community Service and Department of Education Secretary Richard Riley to convene over 500 delegates from 30 states to create a set of core principles linking service-learning with school reform.  Again, it was Harris Wofford who was able to build the base of political leadership that allowed National Service to extend beyond its usual boundaries, in this case into K-12 education.

In 2006 Harris was the first recipient of the William James National Service Lifetime Achievement Award collectively presented by a group of twelve national service organizations and President Clinton. Harris barely took a breath before challenging the crowd in Philadelphia to do more – much more to take service further! That’s our charge today. Thank you, Harris, for charting the course and leading!

In Minnesota we continue to feel the impact of Harris Wofford’s vision through the efforts of many allied service groups. Below is a partial list of supportive organizations which collectively along with donors have made Minnesota among the top three volunteer participation states in the nation. Of special encouragement this year has been the interest of Minnesota Governor Tim Walz in volunteer service and service-learning. Like Harris Wofford, Governor knows service and service-learning as a practitioner. He’s been the top non commissioned officer in the Minnesota National Guard and used service-learning practices as a classroom teacher prior to becoming Governor.

The following is a representative sampling of Minnesota organizations engaged in volunteer service:

  • ServeMinnesota  is the state coordinator for full time AmeriCorps positions and is currently hiring.
  • The Minnesota Senior Corps is part of AmeriCorps and offers a wide range of volunteer opportunities for older people statewide.
  • Lead advocate for Minnesota Higher Education Service-learning is Minnesota Campus Compact
  • National Youth Leadership Council www.nylca non profit organization started at the University of Minnesota in 1983 and continues to primarily support research and technical assistance for K-12 service-learning.
  • The Center for School Change is an advocacy, policy and training hub for service-learning and positive youth development with a significant track record.
  • Youthprise, a nonprofit takes on issues of equity and justice head on often using a service-learning approach.
  • Of course, the number of faith-based and civic organizations with opportunities for service is extensive. is a good place to start looking.

At this writing we have learned that the Federal funding base for National Service in Minnesota and nationally is threatened with extinction by the Trump Administration.

More information to follow next week on how proponents can respond.

Tags:  community service  featured  national service  service  service-learning  volunteerism 

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February Service-Learning Digest 2019

Posted By NYLC, Friday, March 29, 2019

(This article was originally posted on March 13th, 2019 on

What happens when service-learning is part of classroom instruction? Check out a few shining examples of excellence in this month’s digest.


UTD is joining the nationally growing trend of service learning in the classroom. This semester, the university is offering 10 classes centered around service.

In 2017, UTD received $1 million through the University of Texas System to incorporate community engagement into the curriculum. Since then, the school has offered a variety of classes, from helping the homeless youth population to supporting students who identify as parents, to reach this goal.

Read more

SPHS Juniors Connect With Community For Service Learning Projects

Throughout February, the 400-person junior class at Severna Park High School traveled to three elementary schools to complete their service learning project.

The project was to connect with students at Park, Brooklyn Park and Hebron Harman elementary schools and write books for their buddies.

“It is probably one of the most meaningful things that I get to be part of at Severna Park,” said Valerie Earhart, an English teacher at SPHS.

Read more

Learn 2 Love group makes sandwiches for 363 Sandwich Project

The Somerset Elementary Learn 2 Love service learning group recently made 610 sandwiches for the 363 Sandwich Project.

Read more

Fort Service Learning Academy honors Columbus community members in celebration of Black History Month

On the last day of Black History Month, 10 community members were honored by Fort Service Learning Magnet Academy in Columbus.

News Leader 9 Barbara Gauthier was among the honorees.

“Everybody should be celebrated, not just this one month, but all months,” said Crystal Simonton, theater arts director. “Everybody should be celebrated in general.”

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Service Learning earns state award

Only ten schools in state recognized for their service

Staying busy is nothing new for the dedicated Jefferson County High School Service Learning teacher Lani O’Connor, who matches the energy and passion of her students as they work together.

Read more

New Service Learning Classes Build Community Connections

In one of the newest University of Texas at Dallas classes, students are helping immigrant high schoolers with English. Another class is talking to fifth- and sixth-grade girls about social media and bullying. And still another is working with homeless teens in Dallas.

These classes are part of the University’s growing community-based service learning program, which gives students the opportunity to explore new topics while serving as teachers and mentors in the community.

Read more


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Tags:  civic action  civic engagement  community engagement  featured  service-learning  volunteerism  youth leadership 

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Beyond the Walls of the Classroom

Posted By NYLC, Friday, March 29, 2019

(This article was originally posted on January 21st, 2019 on

By: Joy Mazur 

A senior year English class is usually filled with college essay writing, novel reading, and research practice. However, students in the Morris Hills Regional District’s new Service-Learning course are developing their college readiness in a different way–through investigating genuine community needs and applying their academic knowledge and skills to meet those needs.

Service-Learning teams at Morris Knolls are currently planning projects based on student-chosen topics, focused on raising awareness of veterans’ issues, the benefits of training your pet to be a therapy animal, advocacy and support for people experiencing homelessness, and fighting stigma associated with mental health issues. They have developed community partnerships within the school as well as with local organizations such as Creature Comfort Pet Therapy and Family Promise of Morris County. Morris Hills Service-Learning teams are designing and implementing a new way for students to choose tutors through a website they created, running after-school seminars and meetings at retirement homes to lessen the communication divide between generations, and organizing a clubs/sports fair for to help 8th grade students feel excited and more comfortable coming into their freshman year.  In addition to these ongoing projects, students will develop individual or small group projects during the second half of the school year.

“I have learned many things that I would’ve missed out on if I hadn’t taken Service-Learning. Unlike our other classes, it throws us into the world. I’m thankful that this course was added to Morris Knolls and that I am able to be a part of it.” – Senior Iara Vellaro 

The Service-Learning course is based on a framework developed by the National Youth Leadership Council, which follows the IPARD cycle: Investigation and Research, Planning and Preparation, Action, Reflection, and Demonstration. Students are expected to research and become experts in their field of concern, and determine community needs through interviewing stakeholders before beginning their planning phase in collaboration with a community partner. The Action phase may take place through direct service, indirect service, or advocacy. They must also create a sustainability plan, outlining how their project can be replicated or carried on in the future.

The students are the Project Managers, and hold leadership roles in Outreach, Budget, and Research. In order to be successful, they must collaborate, communicate, and problem-solve when things don’t go according to plan. I have seen them make great leaps in their confidence through taking on this responsibility.

In order to enroll in the course, which can fulfill the MHRD 12th grade English requirement due to its focus on research, writing, and communication skills, students apply during the winter of their Junior year. The application process includes a personal statement, recommendations from a school counselor and a teacher, and a group interview. Thirty-two students at Knolls and twenty-one students at Hills were accepted for Service Learning’s pilot year.

Morris Knolls Principal Ryan MacNaughton is happy with the new course so far. He has been interviewed as a stakeholder by several student teams during the Investigation phase of their projects, and says the students “have been a pleasure to work with. Ms. Mazur is doing some amazing work with our students and I am so pleased with the success of the program.” Morris Hills principal Todd Toriello agrees, adding that students “are learning first-hand the importance of giving back to one’s community. Through authentic learning experiences, students are exploring local community-identified needs as well as the historical and philosophical roots of service.”

Dominique Tornabe, Director of Development and Community Relations for Family Promise of Morris County, describes her time working with a team of Morris Knolls Service-Learning students as “incredibly impactful” and commented about the course, “In addition to teaching empathy and compassion, it develops the critical thinking and problem solving skills required for leadership in the 21st Century and beyond.” As Service-Learning student Luke Nienstadt observed, “The goals we are trying to achieve go way beyond the walls of the classroom.”

Tags:  college readiness  community engagement  english  featured  IPARD  research  service-learning 

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This is What Democracy Looks Like

Posted By NYLC, Tuesday, March 26, 2019

(This article was originally posted on March 27, 2018 on

“Love. Not hate. We want to graduate!”

We are students. We want change!”

“Tell me what democracy looks like? THIS is what democracy looks like!”

 Among those chanting these demands in St. Paul, Minn. this past Saturday, during the March for Our Lives, was eighth-grader Lindsey, along with two friends and approximately 20,000 others. She had just participated in “Justice in Action” — the National Service-Learning Conference — in St. Paul 10 days earlier. Below, she reflects on the march with questions her mother posed.

 Q: Tell us about the event you attended. 

A: It was a march against gun violence. . . Students and parents got together to protest gun violence and then heard some people talk about the how we can fix the gun violence in this country.

Q: What did you notice? What stood out for you?

A: There was a vibe there of kindness. We were all there to support the same cause.

How did it feel to be there?

Just being there made me feel like I was part of something amazing that I can tell my grandkids that I took part in and be proud of. I knew I was helping make a difference in our history.

Why did you go? Why was this important to you?

I went to this march because I don’t want to worry everyday if I’m going to be shot or if I come home and find out that my best friend is dead. I shouldn’t have to worry about that. No parent should have to worry about that, or lose their kid due to something that could be so simply fixed.

What did you learn? How are you changed by taking part in this event?

It was truly amazing seeing all those people there. I learned that together people can really make a difference. Going to this [march] has made me want to participate more to make sure that every other kid feels safe in school including me.

What will you do now? What are your next steps?

I would for sure go to another one in the future. I also plan to do the school walkout in April. I am ready for something to change.

As Lindsey’s mother said in her reflection on the event:Amongst so many memorable moments and displays of authentic youth leadership, something that stood out for me was one of the student speakers who closed with a quote from Angela Davis: ‘I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.’ While the fight for stronger gun laws will likely be a marathon rather than a sprint, I have no doubt that young people have the focus and persistence to see this through.”

Tags:  civic engagement  march for our lives  protest  reflection  service-learning  youth leadership  youth voice 

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Why Attend, Developing Young Leaders at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum Minneapolis?

Posted By NYLC, Tuesday, March 26, 2019

(This article was originally posted on August 15th, 2018 on

By Fatumo Mohamed, NYLC intern

The Nobel Peace Prize Forum is one the most enlightening experiences that both teens and adults can partake in. Every year, young leaders gather to learn about changing the world from the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates. By learning about the laureates, they take inspiration and create their own service learning project. The Nobel Peace Prize Forum is the culmination of work done by both the young leaders and the laureates themselves. It celebrates peace and hope for a better world for everyone.

Events at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum are incredible to witness. From art events, to presenters, etc. The Nobel Peace Prize Forum has it all. A few examples include Cienańos, and Rocky Peter Ajoku.  The artists that attend the forum all have a message to bring about world building and change. Through their unique styles the artists teach us about changing the world while having fun. Art events at the forum are a vastly all different while sticking to one theme. From graphic paintings of tragedy to workshops that help you construct a structure based on your emotions, the forum will surely have a workshop that certainly challenge your way of viewing the world.

Themes in the Nobel Peace Prize forum are all about change while focusing on a different aspect of change every year. In 2017, the theme was “Dialogue Across Divided Nations”. The theme of 2016 was “Globalizing Compassion”. Theme of 2015 was “Inclusive and Sustainable Peacemaking and Peace Building”. All of these themes have one thing in common, trying to change the world into a better place. Dialogue Across Divided Nations was about coming together from opposite sides and talking things out. Globalizing Compassion was the importance of how we need to stop being so numb to injustices because it affects us all. Finally, the last theme about peace building teaches us the importance of trying to solve problems through non-violent methods.

People who have changed the world have come and will continue to come to teach us the importance of changing our world for the better. Kailash Satyarthi has been the face against child labor and slavery since the 1980’s. Sanam Naraghi- Anderlini is a co-founder of the International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN). President Jimmy Carter earned his Peace Prize in 2002 for his work in resolving international conflicts peaceful. At the Nobel Peace Prize Forum you get the unique opportunity to meet these people and learn from their hard work.

From interpretive dance to spoken word, The Peace Prize Forum has it all. The Forum’s theme of continual change is something we all must learn in order for this world to be better. This Forum opens a fire in young leaders and old leaders alike to inspire even more change. Now that you know what the Forum is and the different aspects, I hope to see you from Sept. 14-15 at NYLC’s Developing Young Leaders at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum Minneapolis.

Learn more and register today!

Tags:  civic education  Nobel Peace Prize  service-learning  youth leadership  youth leadership development 

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New Publication Advances Civic Education through Service-Learning

Posted By NYLC, Tuesday, March 26, 2019

(This article was originally posted on December 7th, 2017 on

ST. PAUL, Minn. (December 7, 2017) —The National Youth Leadership Council is pleased to announce the release of Service-Learning by Design by Dr. Sue Root. This publication will help educators not only teach core subject areas, but prepare students to be civically informed and engaged citizens – ensuring an excellent education for all our children.

Service-learning, as a teaching strategy, involves young people in engaging learning activities while preparing them to be life-long members of a democratic society. This method of teaching and learning requires teachers to intentionally design a curriculum that meets desired results in academic, civic, and social emotional outcomes.

“For students to grow into civically informed and engaged citizens they must have the opportunity to work outside the classroom. Service-learning connects community and classroom, inspiring students to make positive contributions to the world,” said Amy Meuers, National Youth Leadership Council CEO. “This publication will inspire new ideas, strengthen the practice of service-learning, and help students become responsible citizens.”

To purchase your copy of Service-Learning by Designvisit NYLC’s online store. The book is available in both digital and print formats. To learn more about the National Youth Leadership Council and service-learning, visit our site.

Praise for Service-Learning by Design:

  • “I’m very excited to see this important new resource, which will help move the whole field of service-learning into a new phase, with more consistent and powerful outcomes for students, their communities, and the whole democracy. It’s a user-friendly resource for educators, based on the best research.” -Peter Levine, Associate Dean for Research, Tufts University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life
  • “Very interesting and really helpful concrete examples of the points in your argument for an alternative model. This seems to move the service-learning and core standards discussions a big step forward.” -Constance Flanagan, Bascom Professor in Women, Family and Community, School of Human Ecology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • “Service-Learning by Design is fantastic! It offers a clear, step by step approach to working through intricacies of service-learning…something the field has sorely needed. This work is going to help practitioners in innumerable ways and it will surely be one of the seminal pieces that we’ll all point to years from now.– Andrew Furco, Associate Vice President for Public Engagement, Professor, Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development, University of Minnesota

Tags:  civic education  featured  service-learning  service-learning resources 

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Launching a New Service-Learning Class: A Teacher's Perspective

Posted By NYLC, Tuesday, March 26, 2019

(This article was originally posted on February 21st, 2018 on

by Joy Mazur, guest blogger, English teacher, Morris Knolls High School, Rockaway, NJ

I’m trying something new. I’m a rebel, a renegade, outside the law. I’m going rogue.

I’m making service-learning its own class.

I know, I know — service-learning, by definition, must serve the curriculum: that is, it’s not about the service itself, but the service in service (get it?) of practicing skills and applying knowledge. You can’t make service-learning the content.

But what if you could?

Really, the content in my new full-year service-learning course next year (open to Seniors only) isn’t “service-learning.” It’s language arts skills: communication, research, writing; and college and career readiness skills, like collaboration, leadership, use of technology, practicing critical problem-solving skills, and acting as a responsible and contributing citizen. Students may take the course as an elective or as their Senior year English requirement, so they will be practicing and applying these skills regularly. The curriculum content is flexible, but will have a loose framework in our Character Education Core Virtues, and may cover the historical and philosophical roots of service.

There’s a bit of nagging doubt — because aren’t those skills corollaries to any service-learning project in a content-area course? Couldn’t I just incorporate service-learning in my current English classes?

While I have started to include service-learning as part of some units in English 11 Honors, and I have awesome colleagues in the building who incorporate some form of service-learning as well (although not everyone calls it that), this limits the experience to only our students. If we believe this is a valuable approach to teaching and learning, why should the chance be limited to those students who, through the luck of the draw, end up on our rosters? Requiring every teacher in a district to participate in service-learning may address that problem, but without mass buy-in, it may also result in watered-down, forced, and/or resentfully submitted unit plans.

Engagement is key. So, why not start with the most motivated staff and curious, engaged students? The energy from this cohort, hopefully, will inspire a ripple effect of more teachers getting on board. And I’m ready (or I will be, after next year) to turnkey my own research, seminars, and experiences into meaningful professional development in this area for my colleagues. By devoting a full-year course to service-learning, and allowing it to fulfill an English requirement, my district has demonstrated that we value and support service-learning as something essential to a student’s education, rather than something extra.

Nonetheless, I’m aware of some potential speed bumps:

Engaging the experts without stepping on toes. We have a very active community of service-oriented clubs in our school. How do I learn from this existing network while also establishing service-learning as distinct from community service, and not offending colleagues who have devoted a great deal of time and energy to running these organizations and building relationships in the community? I’ve already discussed with some advisors the possibility that their clubs could be community partners for students in the service-learning class, who may be able to investigate their needs and design projects to support the work that is already being done.

Making service-learning as accessible as possible. It has been my philosophy from the beginning of the course proposal process that a service-learning course should be open to any student who wants to take it. My administrators, mindful of the potential messiness of teaching this course, have placed a hard cap on enrollment. As a result, students must “apply” to take the course, and include recommendations from teachers and counselors. While grateful for the vote of confidence I have been given to run this new course, and the meaningfulness of a guaranteed smaller class size, I worry that this additional gatekeeper — the application — might dissuade the very type of student who could most benefit from the service-learning experience: the student who most needs to see herself as part of something bigger, as capable of making an impact, as a leader, might not want to bother with even the slightest chance of rejection. With this in mind, I have worked closely with the School Counseling office and our Gifted and Talented Coordinator (who also oversees an application process) to develop the application and encourage a diverse cohort of students to apply. I’ve also sought input from both the lead teacher and the Supervisor of our Special Education department, to try to anticipate how to make service-learning as inclusive as it can be.

Keeping the dreams big and the goals small. When I first floated the idea of a service- learning course to my very supportive supervisor, her advice was, “Decide if you are proposing a course… or a program.” I had to admit that in my mind’s eye, this would naturally blossom into a sort of service-oriented Work-Study program (or Cooperative Education program). In some ways, I have already become an ambassador for service-learning in the district, as my proposal presentation introduced the concept to both building principals, the Assistant Superintendent, the Curriculum and Instruction committee, the School Counseling departments, and the Board of Education. Since the course was approved, I’ve reached out to and answered questions from colleagues, students, the Home and School Association, and the community. But in reality, I proposed one course, and the course hasn’t actually run yet. There are practical questions that I haven’t yet answered, like: If the course is entirely skill-based, with the content and focus being decided by the particular cohort of students taking it that year, how do I plan? How do you write a unit plan when the content of the unit is completely student-driven?

Keeping it authentic. Already I am fielding legitimate, but sometimes difficult-to- answer, questions: Will I be able to use this course to complete my Girl Scout Gold Award? We could really use some help with (x, y, z) in the building. Maybe your students could help with that! Isn’t this just a community service class? Will this be, like, way easier than a regular English class? Do you go on a lot of field trips? The answer is inevitably some version of “Yes and no” or “It depends.” Introducing this as a new course gives me a lot of creative freedom, but also a great deal of responsibility to keep our focus on the essential qualities that make service-learning unique, and valuable.

Living up to the hype. I did a lot of promoting in the process of proposing this course, and got a tremendous amount of support at all levels. Service-learning is really an easy sell, after all: it’s student-driven, problem-based, authentic, civically-minded, collaborative… all while addressing concrete academic skills! Who wouldn’t vote for that?

I gained most of my resources for this proposal at the NYLC Educator Institute in Philadelphia last fall, and that weekend, one of our mantras about service-learning became: “It’s messy.” I now wonder, since service-learning is new to our district, and relatively new to me, and certainly new in this format, do any of us really understand how messy? In every meeting I had to pitch this course, I reiterated that some failure will likely be a part of the learning process for students as they grow to understand the realities of project management, grant-writing, and working with community partners. My administrators said they understood this. And hopefully they do!

I’ve also tried to emphasize that while I will be a liaison and point person, I won’t be managing multiple student projects myself. Working toward the higher steps of Hart’s Ladder of Youth-Adult Partnerships should transfer ownership to these near-adults, who have elected to take on this unique level of responsibility during the school day. In fact, students are already moving to the center of the class: as part of a service-learning unit in my classroom this year, inspired by our district summer reading book (Front of the Class by Brad Cohen), a handful of students designed what they thought of as a “wishful thinking” course centered around empathy. They ended up working closely with me to refine the proposal I had already begun, and to promote service-learning both before and after its official approval.

I’ve been a public school teacher for 15 years, and have been wanting to start “Community Service Co-op” for almost as long. I thought of it as my own “wishful thinking” class. It wasn’t until recently that I began doing the research and discovered that it was a real thing, called service-learning, for which curricular support and pedagogical resources abound! I am so grateful to NYLC for their quality professional development and ongoing support through the Generator School Network, which gave me both the confidence and the vocabulary to bring this concept to fruition in my school. I’m also quite lucky to work in a district that will support this endeavor that is unique among public high schools in our area.

I feel invigorated and inspired, even though the course hasn’t started yet, and the response from students has been truly uplifting. They are ready to do something different, something meaningful, something real.

What seemed like a crazy idea is a natural fit with the reasons I got into teaching in the first place, and the things I’ve found to be most important in education. For me, it’s not a rebellion — it’s a revolution.

Tags:  featured  service-learning  youth engagement  youth voice 

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Service-Learning August/September Digest 2018

Posted By NYLC, Sunday, March 24, 2019

(This article was originally posted on August 14th, 2018 on

Happy end of summer, everyone!

As the new school year approaches, it’s time to start thinking about service-learning. Check out this month’s digest for great examples for your own classrooms and after school programs.

  • In schools around the United States a teacher came from Ecuador to teach students about what he learned while in Ecuador. He started in education as a peace corps volunteer in southeastern Ecuador. Part of bringing what he learned to the United States, was making the learning relevant and purposeful. He goal was to make schools more about purpose than test scores and letter grades.

  • Students and staff from Ngee Ann Polytechnic are raising funds for villagers hit by the recent series of earthquakes in Lombok, Indonesia. Almost $20,000 has been collected from campus donation drives which started 8/6/18. They plan to use the money to rebuild damaged infrastructure using quake resistant material, and to develop programs to help the affected communities. For NP students and staff, the cause is especially close to their hearts because some have been traveling regularly to villages in northern and eastern Lombok, to work with the local communities.

  • This article is about a woman, Emily Fitzgerald who visits a school in Silver City. Year 9 MLC school students going to Brooklyn Hill stay in cabins, shop, cook, clean, and do everything themselves. It’s a very different kind of school environment and Emily Fitzgerald is there to experience life through a different lens. She spent two weeks at a school far away from a traditional school. Instead she was at a school with no bells, no assessments, and no homework.–broken-hill-beckons-20180801-h13fuv.html

  • In Camden, a hot sauce is helping young urban entrepreneurs fight poverty. Last fall, a half dozen teenagers from southern New Jersey city of Camden brought hot peppers they that they had grown in an urban garden to a rental industrial kitchen. Putting on latex gloves, they deseeded and chopped the chilies before adding them to salt and vinegar. A Few days later they processed and bottled the product into their own brand of hot sauce. The group is part of a teen focused entrepreneurial program called eco interns, offered by the Camden-area center for environmental transformation (CFET).

  • Waukegan High School adds service learning requirement for graduation. This year’s new freshman will be the first class to have to meet a new service learning requirement in order to graduate. Unlike most service learning requirements centered on a certain number of hours, Waukegan High School students will have to complete four projects over the course of their school years, said Waukegan co-principal Terry Ehiorobo. Terry Ehiorobo says that service learning is to be designed differently than community service. The students will be able to pretty much choose any service project that they want to do.

Tags:  civic engagement  international service  service-learning  youth voice 

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