Service-learning motivates future good citizens

Published 12:05 pm Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Ernest L. Boyer, an American educator who most notably served as Chancellor of the State University of New York, U.S. Commissioner of Education, and President of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, wrote, “The aim of education is not only to prepare students for productive careers but also to enable them to live lives of dignity and purpose; not only to generate new knowledge, but to channel that knowledge to humane ends; not merely to study government, but to help shape a citizenry that can promote the public good.”

Simply put, schools today are focusing on more than educating students to pass tests or gain entry to college.

While college and career readiness and acing standardized tests are important, schools are also taking extra measures to prepare students to be good and generous citizens.

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Two organizations at George Rogers Clark High School proved that this week as they shared with The Sun their recent service-learning projects.

The cadets from GRC’s Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) spent part of their weekend cleaning up trash and debris at Fort Boonesborough State Park.

JROTC is a high school character and leadership program, focused on teaching the leadership tenets of the U.S. military, with more than 100 participants at GRC. The clean-up was part of the local group’s annual service-learning project and also a way to prepare for an upcoming Raider team competition. Cadets picked up trash through the park, cleaned up the fire pits and camping area, removed large branches and cleared the beach of debris.

Similarly, members of the schools’ Student Technology Leadership Program (STLP) are collecting plastic bottle caps which will be recycled and turned in to environmentally-friendly tables and seating that will be placed throughout the community.

Students spent about 10 hours last week picking through the bottle caps evaluating their usefulness. Overall, more than 60 hours have been devoted to the project so far.

Bottle caps are made of No. 5 plastic, which is rarely recycled.

In addition to reducing the amount of unrecycled plastic in the community and creating useful seating, the students will also present their project along with 500 other schools at the state STLP championship March 29. The top two projects move on to nationals.

Service learning provides students with opportunities to develop civic engagement skills. They also can gain important experience working with diverse members of their communities.

Service learning teaches civic responsibility and strengthens community bonds.

Service learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates other disciplines.

The mission is to influence a generation of people who understand the value and reward of giving more than you get or giving for the benefit of others.

And the motivation of service learning is clearly not lost on the students.

As Tori Stepp, cadet battalion public affairs officer for GRC JROTC, said, “(Service learning) helps students learn how the community works. It’s a willingness to do something for the better good.”

We commend these groups for teaching students the joy of giving back to their community and these students for taking their personal time to learn through service to others.