Bosque Blog: Service Learning Expands Traditional Learning Paradigms

Anna Rutins, Service Learning Director
Community engagement through Service Learning is a vital aspect of student and academic life at  Bosque School. It deepens academic learning, builds stronger relationships beyond the campus, and provides excellent preparation for post-secondary school experiences. One goal of our Service Learning program is to expand traditional learning paradigms of the past. Service and volunteering integrated with academic content support today’s students who are creative and critical thinkers, socially and environmentally aware, and more self-directed in constructing their lives than any preceding generation. Helping students develop these skills involves making a connection between their present sense of purpose and what they are learning for their future. It also requires that students see themselves as individuals who can use agency, advocacy, and hands-on action to better the world.  

One way we do this is through Project SERVE, a biannual tradition (once in the fall; once in the spring) that anchors the arc of the upper school’s Service Learning experience. All 9th, 10th, and 11th graders are members of self-selected groups that participate in Project SERVE to deepen their connection to each other and to community partners through various service initiatives. This model allows students to experience approximately 4–5 hours of structured schooltime early in the year, which helps infuse their enthusiasm for on-campus, weekend, and after-school service activities throughout the year. The spring date functions as a wrap-up or “finale” experience; however, some groups use this time to launch new partnerships as a bridge into the next school year.  ProjectSERVE also fosters cross-grade interactions and friendships while introducing student leadership opportunities for rising 10th and 11th graders.

The morning of Friday, April 5,  Project SERVE engaged our students in many ways.  Twelve Service Learning groups were dispatched to their partner organizations around Albuquerque; other groups remained on campus to participate in specific initiatives aligned with their group's mission.  
 
Bosque School sponsored the following Project SERVE initiatives:

Amnesty International – On campus for a workshop exploring the differences between asylum- seekers, refugees, and immigrants with Kathy Freeze, Director of Center for Community Involvement, Catholic Charities. This was followed by conference call with Kit O’Connor, “I Welcome” Campaign Organizer, Amnesty International.  Group members completed the morning with a planning session focused on this week’s on-campus awareness-raising campaign focused on refugee adjustment issues.

Animal Injustice Prevention Society (AIPS) – On campus for team-building and preparing for next week’s awareness campaign focused on cruelty-free products, animal safety at home, spaying and neutering, and factory farming. This was followed by a screening of a documentary film, Ghost in Our Machine.

Best Buddies – Visit with John Baker Elementary School friends in partner IDD (intellectual or developmental disabilities) classrooms, with special outdoor and craft activities, as well as a special shared lunch with storytelling.    

Bosque Art Therapy Society (BATS) – Visit with Zia Elementary friends in visually-impaired program classrooms; special activities for Bosque students fostering more understanding about life with visual impairment; other craft activities; and shared lunch.

Bosque Union for Safe Teens (BUST) – Student-designed and facilitated workshop about “consent” for the entire 6th grade; included presentation, dialogue, stories shared by high school students, skits performed by 6th graders, bookmark-making, and friendship.  This was followed by a debriefing meeting about gun safety legislation passed in this year’s session with Deb Baca, a Moms Demand Action representative.

Conserving Resources and Stopping Hunger (CRASH) – Worked in the morning at Rio Grande Food Project to transform a dirt lot into a community garden; involved mulching, digging, moving dirt, weeding, and other physical work to make progress before the start of the planting season.
 
Harry Potter Alliance (HPA) – A traditional visit to Alameda Head Start preschool classrooms (our long-standing community partner) for reading and friendship activities, followed by a panel of two authors (Cynthia Grady and Sharon Sivinski) and one illustrator (alum Reese Bice, Class of 2017) for sharing and critiquing original children’s books in progress.  The books will be translated into Spanish, Vietnamese, Mandarin, Arabic, Swahili, and Dine and distributed in the International District next year.
 
Helping Hands for Helping Homes – A visit to Casa Angelica, a residential home and therapeutic program for youth who are severely disabled, for reading and spring-related craft activities.
 
Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) – An educational tour of Albuquerque Ambulance to gain insight into the Emergency Medical systems of our city.

Women’s Empowerment League (WEL) – Visited Crossroads for Women, a new community partner, where students learned about particular issues related to women and incarceration, as well as the therapeutic program services provided to help women effectively transition into society.  After the workshop, students weeded and cleaned an outdoor patio area where a special “Volunteer Thank You” luncheon was held this past weekend.

WOKE – Students made final preparations for the first annual Youth Celebrate Diversity (YCD) conference held on April 6 at Manzano High School.  They participated in games to raise awareness about social justice; also met with Katie Shaw, Class of 2006, who talked about her experience living and working on a farm; discussed food justice issues in Albuquerque.

Youth Volunteers for Veterans Affairs (YVVA) – Students made blankets for veterans living in residential centers; they also visited the Veteran’s Memorial Park and Museum for a guided tour led by an Albuquerque veteran.  
 
Project SERVE offers opportunities for fostering a sense of purpose, deepening community partnerships, and providing more meaningful connections to global issues in our local setting. A heartfelt thank you to all participating community partners, faculty members, administrative staff, and leadership for supporting this important work.

Check out this video of highlights from the day.   

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Feel free to contact Anna Rutins, Director of Service Learning, for more information about Project SERVE and our Service Learning program.
 
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