Service-Learning is a teaching methodology that enriches instruction by providing thoughtfully designed opportunities for students to use their skills and knowledge in service to and with the community. Service-Learning meets students' varied academic/learning needs and develops skills and abilities in problem-solving, decision making, critical analysis, group process, and team building. Service-Learning also builds new partnerships between the school and the community that support student achievement and increase community involvement.
Garland Alternative Education Center has been involved in Service-Learning since 2000. Some of our first projects included: campus beautification, a dedication and a Drug Awareness Fair. Since then our school has expanded along with the number of Service-Learning projects. In recent years, our students have organized a pet supply drive for the Garland Animal Shelter, collected school supplies for Katrina victims, organized and held a Career Week, collected funds for the Lymphoma and Leukemia Society and much more. Within each of these activities there are dozens of more activities in which the students are engaged in order for the projects to be successful. Through these steps, students gain knowledge and skills they can use now and later in their lives. Three days a week our High School have a guidance class which provides a focused opportunity for students to participate in Service-Learning activities.
Some of the teachers also integrate Service-Learning into their regular classes. Service-Learning is an experiential method that allows students to have first-hand exposure to the curriculum as it is applied in the real world. The academic work done in the classroom is enhanced and broadened by the application of this work in the community or in areas of need around the school.
Why Service-Learning? Publications from the Search Institute of Minnesota in 1996 determined that students who are involved in community work through their school have greater resilience to risk factors as poor attendance, drug and alcohol abuse, and feelings of being marginalized by the system.