Christopher Camphouse

A reason to smile:

Dental hygiene student Nicole Nordvik cleans 15-year-old Elias Pena's teeth on Feb. 1. Pena was one of the 72 children who LCCC students and volunteer hygienists saw at the "Give Kids A Smile" clinic.

Photo by Ike Fredregill

On The Job Training

Service Learning encourages critical, reflective thinking

Service Learning is still happening at Laramie County Community College, but it’s not as strong as it has been in recent years, the Service Learning program coordinator noted.

“Our original model that we set up for Service Learning was focused in two ways: One was in the classroom, and the other was through student services,” said Jeri Griego, LCCC Service Learning coordinator and accounting/business instructor. “When the person handling the student’s services part of Service Learning left his job, it never got picked up with the same pace that he was using.”

Service learning is the combination of academia and community service that a student completes as either part of his curriculum or as an extracurricular activity.

As a teaching strategy, it combines classroom instruction with community service. Focusing on critical and reflective thinking as well as personal and civic responsibility, Service Learning can be integrated into just about any course, said LCCC Service Learning coordinator and business instructor Jeri Griego.

The American Association of Community Colleges said Service Learning programs involve students in activities that address local needs while developing their academic skills and commitment to their community.

“It is a matter of tying the subject to the service projects,” Griego said, “Service Learning provides an opportunity for us to share values and have students experience first-hand the richness of giving their time and talent to assist others.”

Civic engagement is a core responsibility of the students and graduates. Many groups are active in renewing and strengthening the commitment of students to the community, according to the LCCC website. It says, “We believe that Service Learning offers the greatest potential because it provides opportunities for students to engage directly in our communities and meet the needs of the community.”

LCCC shows many ways to incorporate Service Learning

LCCC’s Service Learning exists in many forms. Griego explained, “it’s up to each faculty member to figure out a way to tie academic content to Service Learning.”

An example came out of LCCC’s multimedia instructor J. O’Brien’s “Computer Graphics” class in fall 2013. Students were assigned to design a logo for the college’s food pantry, another Service Learning project. Each student received the same information in the beginning and then applied what they learned about style and design in the class to their projects.

Joci Lawson, the winner of the food pantry logo design, said, “It is rewarding to have had the opportunity to provide our community with a logo that gives the LCCC Food Pantry an identity, one that I hope will continue to grow and be supported for years to come.”

Some 658 students, 29 faculty members, nine administrators and 11 community partner staff members participated in completing 13,136 hours of direct community service during the 2008—2009 school year. LCCC partnered with 51 nonprofit agencies and local schools, affecting an estimated 10,600 individuals from the community.

The benefits provided by the Service Learning projects were bike helmets for children, brochures for the American Red Cross and even a car for a family in need.

During a project of the 2009—2010 academic year called Make a Flippin’ Difference, Service Learning volunteers held a pancake feed. The proceeds were used to assemble more than 600 first-aid kits to be sent to Haiti.

Another project fund dental hygiene students at LCCC prepare pamphlets in Spanish that described the availability of free dental care and instructions to make appointments. The pamphlets were distributed at a local food bank. When hygienists were treating children, a Spanish-speaking student was often available to talk to them, keep them calm and explain the procedures.

For the past five years, LCCC holds a Free 4 All in October, which incorporates several Service Learning projects into one day. Numerous departments participate such as the art department paints faces; massage therapy offers free massages; the automotive department provides free oil changes, and the technology services repair computers for free.

Christopher Camphouse

Stock up on books:

Human services major Kelsey Anderson stocks the Little Free Libraries made to promote literacy and the love of reading.

Courtesy

Another Service Learning project involves the music and theater departments. They collect donations at their performances such as canned goods to give to the Comea Shelter.

Human Services built little free libraries that were placed around town so people could donate and receive books for free.

Service Learning requirements disappear

Griego said she didn’t receive the financial backing when the previous coordinator left so Service Learning in student services ended.

“Student services have gone through a lot of change, and I realize that Service Learning hasn’t been their priority, but I’m really hoping now with the new dean we can re-initiate the Service Learning program and get back on track,” Griego said. “The academic part happens in the classroom and the whole point of Service Learning is to tie what is learned in the classroom to service so people can actually experience it.”

According to servicelearning.umn.edu, “Service Learning has potential benefits to everyone involved, students, faculty and the community.” The website stated students in Service Learning classes can benefit academically, professionally and personally. It can increase understanding of the class topic, provide hands-on experience, develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and improve the ability to handle change.

“When students have a meaningful service project, it changes them and it builds their self-confidence,” Griego said.


Without A Trace