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Heartland class creates unique service learning project

July 27, 2017

Heartland has a strong commitment to service learning, an approach where students take what they learn in the classroom and address a need in the community. The INSPiRE Grant at HCC helps faculty members implement service learning in the classroom.

As a recent recipient of the grant, Alicia Lenard applied it to her GENS 100 class, a course that teaches On Course principles and focuses on success skills in education. Topics discussed in GENS are based on personal success and include things like self-motivation, overcoming victim mentality and instilling personal responsibility.

“These are topics that are important to learn at any age,” explained Lenard. “My goal after receiving the grant was to empower my students to take what they’re learning and break it down for a younger generation to understand.”

College for Kids

With that, Lenard and her class put on College for Kids, a day where children unfamiliar with higher education could get an introduction to the basics of college. The event took place on July 26 with 15 YWCA kids participating. It included an application process to be “accepted”, a tour of campus, three workshops and a “graduation.” The participants, aged 9 to 12, spent the day exploring careers, writing goals, creating action steps to meet their goals and reflecting on their experience.

According to Lenard, the activities from start to finish were designed to mimic a college experience. “When they filled out their application, they had to indicate any volunteer or work experience they may have had, like running a lemonade stand. They also had to let us know what they wanted to do in terms of their career. These are all things that a real college application might ask them in the future.”

To further mimic a college experience, participants were given temporary student logins to access the internet and practiced public speaking by presenting their reflections in front of the group.

Valuable Lessons

The event pairs well with recommendations from experts that suggest conversations about college should start a young age. This way, children can visualize themselves and gain the confidence to continue their education.

It was also valuable to students in Lenard’s class.

“You haven’t learned unless you can teach it,” said Lenard. “Overall, I think this increased self-esteem and confidence for both the YWCA kids and my students.”

Read more from The Pantagraph.

Written by: Becky Gropp