by Rebecca Rakoczy
Thirty faculty members representing a broad spectrum of Georgia Perimeter’s academic disciplines came together recently at the college’s Atlanta Center for Civic Engagement & Service Learning to learn how to incorporate service-learning practices into their classrooms.
Selected as Service-Learning Faculty Fellows, they are currently participating in monthly seminars at ACCESL to better understand how to create service-learning opportunities for students.
“The seminars grew out of interest from faculty for a comprehensive program to help them develop high-quality service-learning opportunities for their students,” says Kevin Schwemmin, ACCESL service-learning coordinator.
The fellows program is designed both for faculty members new to service learning, as well as experienced practitioners, says Dr. Sean Brumfield, ACCESL’s executive director. “We want to make certain that faculty members who decide to use service learning in their classes are well versed in service-learning best practices so that high-quality experiences are presented to students,” he says.
While some GPC faculty members are already incorporating service learning in their fall classrooms, others are developing new programs for spring semester.
Dr. Mary Mattson’s education students currently are working on an after-school project with fourth and fifth graders at Kingsley Charter Elementary School in Dunwoody. The Kingsley students attend a “reading café” three times a week.
“The idea is to engage young students in sustained reading with friends rather than flipping through screens on the Internet,” says Mattson. “The other part of the project is to help the young students see that reading can be a social activity just like Facebook and other social-networking platforms. We want them to learn that sustained reading creates focus and develops different brain ability, a necessary skill needed for sustained study in academics versus scanning on the computer from one topic to another.”
This spring, Newton Campus sociology professor Dr. George Lonberger will lead his students in exploring sociology through the “prism of a garden,” as they work with Hands On Newton.
“The students will be asked to create a reflective journal about their experiences in the field and how they relate to concepts taught in class, such as what a garden should look like—socialization—and why do different ethnic groups produce different types of food—culture,” explains Lonberger. “They also will take before and after photos of the garden and make suggestions as to where the food should go, maybe to a homeless shelter, senior citizens center or battered women’s shelter.”
Four service-learning fellows are using mini-grants from GPC’s Make It Personal: College Completion program, funded by the American Association of Community Colleges, to launch their classroom projects. Dunwoody professors Tamra Ortgies Young and Dr. Dana Wiggins, Decatur’s Dr. Tyrie Smith and Clarkston’s Natalie Stickney are developing service-learning curriculum for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy community college program.
Ortgies Young will have her spring public administration students study the public policy aspect of teen pregnancy as one of their key modules in the course. “I want them to create videos in their own voices to advocate for students to make smart decisions,” she says.
Dr. Arla Bernstein has been incorporating service-learning projects in her communication courses for years but nonetheless is learning a lot during the service-learning seminars. “They stimulate new ideas and offer ways to improve on the SL projects that I do,” she says, “especially in helping students to reflect and better understand the connection between community service and academic learning.”
Faculty members who have been named fellows are eligible to apply to the next stage of the program, Service Learning Scholars. A complete list of GPC’s Service-Learning Faculty Fellows follows:
Marilyn Render, Communication
Dr. James Beaumont, Psychology and Criminology
Debora Constable, Accounting
Lauri Goodling, English
Dr. Pamela Gore, Geology
Barbara Jean Hall, ESL
Dr. Paul Hudson, History
Dr. Jonathan Lochamy, Biology
Mary Helen Ramming, English
Natalie Stickney, Physical Education
Dr. Claudette Tolson, History
Beth Wallace, ESL
John Whittemore, ESL
Karen Williams-Jones, Spanish
Queen Harris, Math
Veanne Jones, Social Work
Dr. Tyrie Smith, English
Dr. Arla Bernstein, Communication
Dr. Susan Cody-Rydzewski, Social Science
Dr. Crystal Garrett, Political Science
Dr. Rosalyn Jacobs, English
Dr. Mary Mattson, Teacher Education
Tryphene McGee, Reading
Tamra Ortgies Young, Political Science
Dr. Gerald Pollack, Geology and Environmental Science
Dr. Dana Wiggins, History
Elaine Bryan, Physical Education
Jane Hercules, Communication
Dr. George Lonberger, Sociology
Michael Bradley, Philosophy and Religion