The NYC Service-Learning Institute
GenerationOn is pleased to partner with the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) Service in Schools, a school-based program in partnership with NYC Service, and national service-learning expert Cathryn Berger Kaye to provide a unique professional development experience for NYC educators at no cost to the teachers themselves: the NYC Service-Learning Institute. Funded by Service in Schools, the institute works with NYC public schools to examine their existing community service programs and provide training to turn these programs into service-learning, a transformational teaching and learning strategy for students.
On January 30, 2012, Cathryn Berger Kaye worked with 118 PreK-12 teachers, counselors, administrators, and parent coordinators to teach the stages of an effective service-learning process and engage in interactive activities that can be used immediately in the classroom to engage students in reflection and high level analysis. All participants received a copy of her book The Complete Guide to Service Learning to reinforce the concepts and best practices. Gregg Betheil, Executive Director of NYCDOE Office of School Programs and Partnerships, opened the day and emphasized the value of service-learning as a method to empower students to use academic studies to develop real-life solutions, strengthen their communities, and be more prepared for college and careers.
The educators will participate in two more sessions, a one-hour webinar in February and another full-day training in March. Before the next sessions, participants will use activities they explored in the first session in their own classrooms—such as using quotes and student personal inventories—and then share their successes and challenges. As a part of this process, participants will examine their own practice as well as their students’ work, and, in the last two sessions, they will discuss their progress and continue to identity best practices.
Additional funding has also been made available for participants to develop service-learning in their classrooms. Participants have the opportunity to apply for a $250 mini-grant to help defray costs associated with their service-learning experience. Through a generous grant by the Heckscher Foundation for Children, generationOn will be able to ensure attendees have access to resources needed to dive in and put their ideas into motion this school year.
The partnership and the start of the Service-Learning Institute have both already been productive and a rewarding experience for those involved. Based on the participants’ feedback, 100% indicated they were satisfied with the January session, with 90% of the total being extremely satisfied. Additional comments included:
[The] Service Learning Institute fully prepares educators to launch service projects in their schools and helps prepare in making that connection between the classroom curriculum and the community. (Parent Coordinator)
This workshop opened my eyes about all of the different learning opportunities I could use to engage my students. (Teacher)
This Service Learning Institute is a great platform to learn and share ideas to engage a whole community in one way or another. (School Community Associate)
“A mind stretched by a new idea cannot return to its original dimension” [Oliver Wendell Holmes] – my mind was stretched today never to return. Thanks! (Teacher)
Ms. Kaye’s methods will help schools meet the needs of all students while helping those outside of class as well. (Teacher)
Cathy led an engaging workshop that inspired me to build upon my school’s service learning program with a renewed sense of energy, purpose and support. (School Guidance Counselor)
As evidenced by participant feedback, NYC educators are enthusiastic and eager for professional development opportunities that make service-learning a meaningful part of their classroom and school culture and a powerful method to advance student academic achievement. The Service-Learning Institute has come at a critical time when professional development budgets are being cut while the need for innovative and creative teaching methods is high. This ongoing collaboration between generationOn, NYCDOE, and Cathryn Berger Kaye strives to ensure that the benefits of service-learning are recognized as valid and valuable to both the academic and emotional well-being of NYC students. With service-learning, these benefits surely extend beyond the school walls to support our communities.