4 Ways to Ensure a Successful Community Service Program

Vol. 15 No. 3

academicleadership eletter Vol16 No3 communityservice

Many schools have incorporated community service into their mission to show their students how to become global citizens with hearts for helping others. An integral part of delivering this value is an ongoing focus on service learning.

Service learning consists of those components of the school curriculum that support and complement your community service program. Service learning programs broaden students’ social awareness and instill a commitment to caring for and about others.

Service learning programs should be intentional and student-led, meeting the needs of your community and its citizens. If your school already has—or plans to develop—a community service program, keep these tips in mind to ensure its long-term success.

  1. Use your Purpose and Outcome Statements to structure your community service program. An exemplary program that fits your school should be rooted in your Purpose and Outcome Statements. Your Purpose and Outcome Statements encompass your mission statement, your Portrait of the Graduate (a list of desired student outcomes) and your Characteristics of Professional Excellence (a list of characteristics that your ideal faculty members share). Your school's community service program should relate to the qualities that you demand from your faculty and hope to instill in your students.
  2. Appoint a community service program leader. Select a person to not only coordinate your community service program, but also to ensure its integration with the service learning component of your curriculum. This person should be active within your community and able to generate enthusiasm for the program among faculty, parents, staff, and students. This Community Service Coordinator can report to a Division Head, the Academic Dean, Dean of Students, or another member of your school.
  3. Create an ongoing program. Students should have an opportunity to participate in your community service program during the school year and in the summer months throughout their tenure at your school. You want your students to embrace learning as a lifelong pursuit—service should follow the same model. A program that provides continuity instills in them the desire to help others year-round.
  4. Integrate your community service program with your curriculum. Your community service program should parallel your curriculum, ensuring students formally discuss or write about their projects. Involve school advisors, in conjunction with the Community Service Coordinator, in this integration process, matching student interests and abilities with the service opportunities available. Your service program could provide opportunities for each student to explore areas he or she might want to pursue as a career, planting the seeds for a lifetime of learning.

When community service and service learning are an integral part of life at a school, children come to understand that their actions can make a positive difference in their neighborhoods. Use these tips to create a program that furthers your mission and helps improve the lives of all involved.

Additional ISM Resources:
The Source for Private School News Vol. 13 No. 11 “And to All, a Good Night”—Community Efforts by Independent Schools During the Holidays
The Source for Private School News Vol. 14 No. 6 School Spotlight: The Christ School’s One Great Day of Service

Additional ISM resources for Gold Consortium members:
Vol. 27 No. 7 Community Service: Taking It to the Street
Vol. 40 No. 14 Scheduling the 21st Century Service Learning Program

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