"Life's most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?" -Martin Luther King, Jr.
Service-Learning at Southern Vermont College
The working definition of service-learning developed by the College is such that service-learning is a method:
- Under which students learn and develop through active participation in thoughtfully organized service experiences that meet actual community needs and course learning objectives;
- That is integrated into the student's academic curriculum or provides structured time for a student to think, talk, or write about what the student did and saw during the service activity;
- That enhances what is taught in class by extending student learning beyond the classroom and into the community and helps foster the development of service to others;
- That provides students with opportunities to use newly acquired skills and knowledge in real-life situations in their own communities.
Adapted from the Commission on National and Community Service (now the Corporation for National and Community Service).
At Southern Vermont College, students are given multiple opportunities through classes from their first semester through senior year to become active participants in many fascinating internal and external community-based projects and activities. Always under the supportive and nurturing guidance of a faculty or staff member, SVC service learning program enables students to develop the following as part of their “tool kit” for future studies at the graduate level and future employment:
- Greater self-confidence in their abilities to interact with professionals in the field and their clients
- Greater competence in the requisite interpersonal, technical and support skills necessary to facilitate growth and change on individual, programmatic and systemic levels
- Heightened awareness of the ways in which community-based programs and services interact within their communities, funding sources and the larger region in which they exist to serve others
- An enhanced resume and letters of recommendation for their hands-on work in community and site-based programs and services
- The knowledge that they are contributing actively to the communities in which they live, learn and work
- The personal satisfaction that they are participating in unique ways based on their skills, interests and passions to organizations in a mutually beneficial manner
- Gain the skills and knowledge necessary to become leaders, organizers and skilled workers in situations which are of special meaning and interest to them
When taken together, students have the ongoing opportunity while at SVC to broaden their “reach” beyond the traditional on-campus classroom, to work and learn alongside community practitioners, experts, researchers, activists and neighbors while developing and enhancing their personal, professional and academic “tool kits.”
Service-learning reflects the College's mission to prepare graduates to be "citizen leaders able to face the challenges presented by a complex, global society."
Why Become a Service-Learner?
Service and helping others can be a very rewarding experience in itself. However, a volunteer experience could have many additional benefits.
- Learn to see everyone's role in the community.
- Gain an awareness of community needs.
- Attain a belief that one person can make a difference.
- Improve problem-solving and decision-making skills.
- Develop critical-thinking skills.
- Use your academic knowledge and apply it for the good of the community.
- Help develop new ways to help others.
- Improve your leadership skills.
- Learn to work on a team.
- Understand your role in the world.
- Build your self-confidence and self-esteem.
- Learn how to take risks and accept challenges.
- Gain a sense of belonging.
- Connect yourself to others with similar interests.
- Gain work experience in your field.
- Make contacts with individuals who may provide a future job or valuable work reference.
- Professionalism—learn how to function in a work environment (dress, manners, etc.).
- Get first-hand experience in the working world within your field.
Additional Community Service-Learning Opportunities
The America Reads Challenge is a grassroots national campaign that challenges every American to help all of our children, including English language learners and students with disabilities, learn to read independently and well by the third grade. Current sites include: Bennington Bookmobile, Bennington Elementary School, Head Start School, Molly Stark Elementary School, and Oak Hill Daycare Center.
As a mentor, you will have the opportunity to have a profound impact on a young person's life by giving them guidance through your own personal experience. Current opportunities: Bennington elementary School through the Bennington Mentoring Consortium, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Career Development Center at Mount Anthony Union High School, and JUMP at the Molly Stark Elementary School.
Community Service Work-Study
The College's Career Services Office offers community service related work-study positions at various non-profit agencies in Bennington. A few of these sites are the AIDS Project of Southern Vermont, CAT-TV, Project Against Violent Encounters, Red Cross, Southwestern Vermont Council on Aging, and Southwestern Vermont Healthcare.
Student Service Leadership Corps
As a Service Leader, you will work to meet real community needs while developing your own skills as a leader. Service leaders dedicate themselves to a certain number of community service hours and building student leadership on-campus in exchange for an Education Award. Conferences and training are provided.
Volunteer opportunities are unlimited! You can join Southern Vermont College's MooseCorps or check out the list in Career Development of over 80 local organizations, which look for volunteers. Stop by and take a look!
- Vermont Campus Compact: Vermont Campus Compact is a statewide coalition of college and university presidents, established to promote the integration of public service into the academic, student life, and civic goals of member institutions.
- Campus Compact
- Campus Outreach Opportunity League (COOL)
- Corporation for National Service
The following courses may have a service-learning component:
- Introduction to American Politics
- Interviewing and Counseling
- Counseling Individuals and Families
- Holistic Nursing - Population at Risk
- Community Care of Vulnerable Populations
- Lifespan Development
- Social Problems
- Senior Seminar in Social Science
Sara Diane Nolan, MSW
Adjunct Faculty, The Donald Everett Axinn Division of Social Sciences