Saturday, March 23, 2013

"In Service of What?" Kahne and Westheimer -Hyperlinks-

As I read this article, I discovered that I have been unknowingly participating in Service Learning projects since I was in the fourth or fifth grade.  When I was in the fourth grade, I became a Girl Scout.  Nearly all Girl Scout badges and awards had some element of community service to them.  For one of the Interest Projects I earned my troop painted a room in the church where our meeting were held.  Then every year we participated in something called Project Undercover where we donated socks and underwear to under-privileged children throughout Rhode Island.  I helped a fellow troop member with her Silver Award Project.  She helped to teach younger girls about staying healthy.  We got teach them easy healthy recipes, how to properly wash their hands, and exercises that they could do every day.  While in Girl Scouts I got to work with several girls who had profound Autism, Down Syndrome, and other disabilities. 

 I was a Girl Scout for well over ten years and I couldn't tell you how many hours of community service I participated in.  One of the quotes from the reading that stuck out to me was: "In addition to helping those they serve, such service learning activities seek to promote students' self-esteem, to develop higher-order thinking skills, to make use of multiple abilities, and to provide authentic learning experience."  I know that for me, the years I spent in Girl Scouts complete validate the quote.  I was able to develop those skills as well leadership, responsibility, and many other valuable skills at a young age.  I know the troops that I was in didn't make community service projects seem like work.  Usually  we did projects with younger troops.  Whether I was an entire day dedicated to staying healthy or just a little craft project.
 My Community Service Patch

 My Patches for participating in Project Undercover

The Junior Aide Patch I earned for working with younger troops.

Throughout high school I was in several school clubs that actively participated in community service and service learning programs.  From ten through twelfth grade I was a member of the North Providence High Math Peer Tutors where I would go to one of the middle schools every Thursday and work with students in math.  It was a program very similar to the VIPS program only it took place after school.  I was a member of the Wind Ensemble where we would go to the other schools and put on concerts for them.  It was similar to what the music director in the reading did with his upper-middle-class students.  I was also a member and officer in my school's chapter of Students Against Destructive Decisions.  The club's goal was to do our best to educate our fellow students about the dangers of substance abuse.  Then there was Senior Project.  For my Senior Project, I worked with the middle school band.  I participated in their after school band sessions, performed in their concerts, went on two of their field trips and I got to teach a few music classes. I was supposed to complete a minimum of sixteen mentoring hours  but in the end I completed well over forty hours!  I even went after I graduated!

I think I did my most rewarding Service learning projects through the martial arts school I attend.  I'm a certified black belt at Mastery Martial Arts and for the past few summers I have been helping with a program at Sargent Rehabilitation Center in Warwick, Rhode Island. Once a week during the summers I have been working with one of the Instructors in a program for teens and young adults who have suffered from brain injuries and another program for children and teens with profound Autism.  It really is amazing to watch the children progress in the program, especially the children with Autism.  During the first week or so we usually have a hard time getting the to do the movements and stand still but then by the end of the six week program they can stand still on their place marker, go through the movements with ease and even look us in the eye!

-Things to think about-
I know for me, doing volunteer work and service learning projects is almost as big a part of my life as going to school.  I've been able to use my past experiences as tool when I go to Kennedy Elementary School for the Service Learning Project through VIPS.  Has anyone had similar experiences?  Has anyone had no prior experience with Service learning project before the one we're doing for class?        


  1. I agree with you I am the same way i feel that when I go to my service learning I sued some of the same tools that I use for my community service in high school. I myself had service learning experience with homeless people, the soldiers in Iraq, and children.

  2. Mikaela, I would like to respond to your "things to think about"- I think that my community service (in addition to my job) gave me a lot of background for my service learning. It's always good to have something to pull from!

  3. Hi Mikaela! I too was a Girl Scout for many years. I really feel Girl Scouts teaches a love of service. Great post!