Service Learning praised as model program

April 5, 2016

Present and former HCC students, Chelsey Mattis, Jazzynett Rosario, '15, and Angelica Merino Monge are tutoring migrant workers in Spanish as part of a Service Learning Project coordinated by professor Raul Gutierrez. Culinary Arts student Jane Kaufman talks about a Service Learning project she took part in through Laura Christoph's Honors Nutrition class.

The director of civic learning and engagement for the state Dept. of Higher Education praised HCC's Service Learning Program last week as "a model for the rest of the state."

"I like to say that when I'm talking to people on other campuses, that there a program here that they ought to know about," John Reiff said during a dinner celebrating HCC students and faculty who have participated in Service Learning projects during the 2015-2016 academic year.  

Reiff, the former director of Service Learning at the University of Massachusetts and a mentor to HCC English professor and Service Learning coordinator Lisa Mahon, said it has been "a privilege" following HCC's program since its inception 12 years ago.  

"I've had the great joy of seeing this program grow through the work that Lisa and her colleagues have done together and the work that students have done in this community and in the surrounding communities," he said.  

Service Learning involves a class partnering with a community group, generally a nonprofit, to perform some kind of project that benefits both the students and the community partner.  

"I think the long-term benefit that the students gain from this you can't even begin to measure," said Monica Perez, interim vice president of Academic Affairs. "What service learning does, really, is promote academic learning through community involvement, and it's through these courses that students really can take what they learn in the classroom and apply it to real-life situations."  

About 80 faculty members, students, and many of their community partners attended the dinner in the Picknelly Dining Room and listened as teachers and students described their projects.  

Below are some of the Service Learning Projects highlighted:  

  • Caren Bendror, Sociology: research on college access (Holyoke High School).  
  • Nic Schwab, Math: tracking seasonal attendance (Kate's Kitchen, Providence Ministries).  
  • Armando Pardave, Robotics: Lego robot project (Holyoke Boys and Girls Club).  
  • Kelly O'Connor, Business Law: housing discrimination data collection (Mass Fair Housing Center).
  • Jonathan Gould, English: academic learning and career goals  (Holyoke Boys and Girls Club).  
  • Naomi Lesley, English: children's literature (Holyoke Public Library).  
  • Raul Gutierrez, Spanish: oral history project (Nuestra Raises).  
  • Raul Gutierrez, LISA Club: teaching literacy classes to migrant workers (Head Start).

Professor Laura Christoph and students from her Honors Nutrition class talked about the work they've done creating a stronger link between the food grown in the South Hadley Community Gardens and the preferences of the clients who visit the South Hadley Food Pantry.    

"I was delighted to visit Prof. Christoph's class to present the history and the process of our garden and to explore with the students the challenges we are facing in processing and harvesting nearly 2,000 pounds of vegetables each year for the Food Pantry," said coordinator Sue Brouillette. "This community project was hugely beneficial in addressing our challenges and this in itself made the undertaking a wonderful success."  

PHOTOS by CHRIS YURKO: (Left) Present and former HCC students, Chelsey Mattis, Jazzynett Rosario, '15, and Angelica Merino Monge are tutoring migrant workers in Spanish as part of a Service Learning Project coordinated by professor Raul Gutierrez. (Right) Culinary Arts student Jane Kaufman talks about a Service Learning project she took part in through Laura Christoph's Honors Nutrition class. (Thumbnail) Chelsey Mattis, Jazzynette Rosario and Angelica Merino Monge

 
 

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