Project Description

This session includes multiple presentations. Timestamps are indicated in parentheses so you can forward to the presentation you want to view.

Creating Community Impact though First Year Seminar (00:00)

Presented by Erin Hart, Gannon University

The intentions of the First-Year Seminar (FYS) course at Gannon, include building a relationship between students and the Gannon community, developing integration of the academic, social, personal, and spiritual aspects of student life, and exploring the tenets of Catholic social teaching (CST) in daily life and work. This session will discuss the intentionality of designing and integrating service learning, Catholic social teaching and the Gannon Reads initiative within the First-Year Seminar.

Service learning is a pedagogical strategy that connects classroom learning to ongoing community service experiences that build social, civic and academic skills. Over the last three years my FYS course has partnered with an inner city elementary school in Washington, D.C., serving as pen pals to a second grade class throughout the semester. Pen pal letters are used as a base to teach and address CST, as well as systemic issues in our society, including literacy, career exploration and access to education.

The class spends 15+ hours of the course dedicated to their service learning project which includes not only writing letters bi-weekly, but also reflecting on the experience through journals and the creation of a career exploration video used for the second grade pen pal career day.

My FYS class is composed of undecided students so as they reflect on majors and career paths, they in turn introduce these different career fields to their second grade pen pals. We discuss the importance of access to education and social capital and their impact on career growth and development.
We also connect themes of the Gannon Reads initiative into our letters and journaling. Past themes have included the importance of literacy, mindset, and finding your “”why.””

The service learning experience culminated with a final paper connecting two or more tenants of CST to their pen pal experience and also creating a video for the second grade career day. These final papers serve as an assessment tool to insure I am meeting learning outcomes for the course.

Best practice takeaways from my session include:

  • an introduction to the framework used to create my service learning model
  • discussion of the intentionality of integrating CST and Gannon Reads
  • discussion regarding how to locate potential community service partner organizations.

Safe and Socially Distanced Service and Learning Opportunities (33:15)

Presented by Michelle Lopez and Michael Miles, Community College of Philadelphia

Due to the pandemic, Community College of Philadelphia pivoted from in person instruction to virtual instruction immediately and continue to do so today. Instead of ceasing all traditional student volunteer opportunities, the Institute for Community Engagement and Civic Leadership, the College’s home for volunteerism, service learning, community outreach and partnerships, quickly followed suit and provided volunteer service and direct support opportunities through both virtual and socially distanced platforms. Though the pandemic proved to be a challenging time to engage with students and the larger community, the College’s Institute for Community Engagement and Civic leadership (the Institute) continues to successfully provide resources to our larger Philadelphia community through service. The Institute would like to highlight programs that were once only done physically at the College and share best practices on how we were able to continue to partner with new and existing organizations over the past year and provide needed resources and support to Philadelphia residents. Programs include our Enough is Enough sessions focusing on Social Justice and Civics Education Non-Credit Workshop Series and the Semester of Service program supporting: COVID-19 testing and vaccine distribution, the College’s Adopt-A-School Program and the #CCPVotes voter engagement program. We will discuss which programs pivoted best and prove to have an even farther reach in a virtual setting.