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Spotlight on Service Learning

Student: Faith Robinson, First year
Course: University 100A
Instructor: Inge Dorsey
Community Partner: University of Prince Edward Island, Island Studies Program

For her service learning project, Faith organized a conference entitled “My Island, My Heart” on March 14th, 2014. It explored three themes: island fragility, island sustainability, and island community. The goals of this initiative were to develop an event for students and community members, involve them in the realities of their environment and make them aware of their own importance within it. The event consisted of several speakers who delivered a mixture of presentations: Dr. Jim Randall (Island Studies), a student panel made up of Island Studies Master’s students, chaired by Dr. Jean Mitchell (Department of Anthropology), Laurie Brinklow (Island Studies), Deirdre Kessler (children's writer, poet, editor, and instructor), and Millefiore Clarkes (PEI filmmaker).

Faith's tasks involved making all communications and requests to guest speakers, answering any and all queries about the event, creating a schedule, book the location, promoting the event using a PSA and posters which included her own original graphic design, and organizing equipment and refreshments.

Faith says, “It has been a wonderful, exhilarating experience! Putting this project together has given me the itch for event planning and I want to start all over again, but make it even bigger! Everyone involved was passionate about what they do, it makes me feel so honored that they decided to share some of that energy with me!”

During the UPEI Stories Showcase, Faith was awarded the UPEI University 100 Verner Smitheram and Andy Robb Excellence in Leadership Award for her Service Learning project, “My Island, My Heart”. Congratulations, Faith!

Students: Teagan Pringle and Alyssa Arbing (1st year, BA)
Course: University 100
Instructor: Inge Dorsey
Community Partner: Upper Room Soup Kitchen, Charlottetown, PE

For their Service Learning project Teagan and Alyssa completed a placement at the Upper Room Soup Kitchen in Charlottetown, PE. The Soup Kitchen serves lunch daily at 11:30 am, and supper on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 4:30 pm. Many volunteers, church groups, and other non-profit organizations prepare the meals throughout the week, on weekends and during special occasions. Teagan and Alyssa volunteered for a total of 10 hours. They assisted in the kitchen at meal time with preparation of food and drinks, directly served individuals, and cleaned up after the meal.

Teagan says, “I had always wanted to volunteer at a Soup Kitchen but Service Learning finally gave me the push I needed to do so. Everyone was so welcoming and friendly. I felt as if I was in a room amongst friends, simply helping them prepare supper and serve it. Volunteering at the Soup Kitchen was such a fantastic opportunity that I will cherish forever. I hope to continue volunteering at the Upper Room in the future”.

These volunteer experiences were beneficial to the University 100 students as they both aspire to careers involved with helping people and are currently taking courses in Psychology and Sociology at UPEI. Teagan and Alyssa felt as though this opportunity provided them with the foundation they need to have a successful understanding of people and further their knowledge outside of the classroom while reassuring them that they are on the right track with their studies and future career goals.

Course: University 203
Instructor: Inge Dorsey
Community Partner: Parry Aftab
Students: Alysha Dosanjh & Danielle Mahar

On November 9th, 2013, Alysha and Danielle volunteered at the International STOP Cyber bullying Youth Summit held at the Confederation Arts Centre. This one day event aimed to raise awareness about the harmful effects associated with cyber bullying. Their host for the day was Parry Aftab, an advocate for all aspects of cyber bullying. The event also consisted of a panel made up of a variety of leaders from well-known companies including a representative from Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Build A Bear. Throughout the day, their job was to make sure that the event proceeded as smoothly as possible. Some of the tasks they were responsible for included; registration, maintaining structure of the event area, as well as assisting participant’s and young children with any questions or concerns they had. As the event was taking place, Alysha and Danielle were able to observe some of the speakers address the situation on cyber bullying.

Through this experience they felt they were able to deepen their understanding on how various leaders use their abilities to grasp the audience’s attention. Alysha and Danielle also learned the benefits of using different leadership styles. Reflecting back on this experience, these students felt they were able to further develop their own personal leadership skills and were exposed to positive role models which they believed would help guide them toward becoming the leaders they want to be in the future.

Course: University 203
Instructor: Inge Dorsey
Community Partner: Prince Edward Island Curling Association
Student: Veronica Smith, 2nd year student, Business

Veronica completed her Service Learning project with Curl PEI where she organized a “Sports Day in Canada” event for curling clubs on November 30, 2013. This event included an open house at curling clubs across the Island where anyone could come out and try the sport for free. Veronica’s duties included proposing the idea to the club representatives and executive members of the Curl PEI board, creating curriculum for each club, answering questions about the event, emailing countless organizations to get the word out and was present at various curling clubs to help with the on-ice portion on the day of the event.

Veronica says, “I was able to learn a lot from this project regarding the information we covered in the course. I was able to see what kind of leader I was and how I liked to interact with people. I am also someone who loves to plan and organize events so this was a perfect fit for me. I was able to create a  network of contacts as I was working many people in curling community and local organizations.” Here is what Veronica felt as she reflected back on her Service Learning Experience, “This experience is one that I will never forget. I was able to give back to the curling community and raise awareness about the sport.” Veronica plans on continuing this event while working with Curl PEI in the future. 

Course: University 203
Instructor: Inge Dorsey
Community Partner: Birchwood Intermediate School
Student: Adam Francis

For his service learning project, Adam, volunteered at Birchwood Intermediate School. Birchwood houses students in grades seven, eight and nine and is located near downtown Charlottetown. During his  time at Birchwood, Adam assisted various teachers in different subjects. He handed out assignments, assisted with students’ questions, and helped with classroom management.

Adam says, “I learned many things from my time in the classroom and furthered my experience dealing with students of that age group. This experience is particularly valuable to me because I am pursuing a career in education in the future. By meeting the staff at Birchwood, I had the opportunity to network with Island educators, increasing the likelihood for future substitute teaching positions.” Adam learned how to deal with talkative students in the classroom without distracting their classmates. He believed this project helped the students of Birchwood because they had another person in the room who was able to answer their questions and provide one on one interaction they may not have had otherwise.

Course: Leadership 203
Instructor: Inge Dorsey
Community Partner: The Boys and Girls Club of Summerside, Summerside Western Capitals
Student: Nathan DesRoches, UPEI Grad 2013: BA, Psychology Major

Nathan’s Service Learning initiative was entitled the Leadership Against Bullying Project. The L.A.B.P. is based on club members from the Boys and Girls Club of Summerside learning and creating their own anti-bullying campaign. 

With assistance from the Summerside Capitals, club members from all over Summerside were able to raise funds at a “Pink at the Rink” day for their newly developed “Pick with Me” program that combines both music and bullying discussion. Club members also developed anti-bullying game rooms, anti-bullying bracelets, and encouraged teachers in the community to open up discussions about bullying.

Nathan says, “The project is based on self learning and making a difference in your community, which is a big step for kids ages 6-13. The results were outstanding with approximately 100 kids from the Summerside area participating in various ways.”

For Nathan, this project has opened up job opportunities and most importantly has offered an opportunity to give back to the community while discussing a very important issue. The L.A.B.P. won the Verner Smitheram and Andy Robb Leadership award last year and continues to draw attention. “The L.A.B.P. is one of my greatest accomplishments and hopefully it will continue to encourage people to take an active stance in a very important issue,” says the recent UPEI Graduate.

Nathan has been invited to numerous schools over the past 6 years to speak about bullying and will continue to do so passionately. On February 26, 2014, Nathan will be speaking to the Boys and Girls Club of Summerside and Greenfield Elementary School and will  be on 102.1 Spud FM at noon to discuss the success of last year’s L.A.B.P.

Courses: Introduction to Education 211 / Leadership 203 (For Education 211 students are required to complete 25 hours of observation and teaching in a classroom setting. For Leadership 203 students are required to complete about 15-20 hours of Service Learning)
Instructors: Cynthia MacDonald / Inge Dorsey
Community Partner: Bluefield High School / East Wiltshire Intermediate School
Student: Chloé McCloskey, First year, B.A., French Major, Pre-BEd. Learning Community

Chloe completed her first placement with a former teacher, Stephen Gallaway, at Bluefield High School in Hampshire, PE. She had the opportunity to help students in the classroom and even taught a few lessons on her own. Chloe also learned a variety of skills that you may not initially associate with teaching such as learning how to use the photocopier, how to take attendance, and how to create report cards.

Chloe says, “With this experience, I became a role model to many. Throughout my time in the classroom, I have learned that Education is what I want to pursue in the future. I can not wait to teach high school students and helping others gives me the most amazing feeling.  I certainly recommend that each student that is considering the Education Program each has the chance to experience what it is like to be in a classroom setting. It has definitely opened my eyes.”

Chloe enjoyed her first experience in the classroom so much that she has decided to complete her University 203 Service Learning project in a Grade 8 French Immersion classroom at East Wiltshire Intermediate School. Chloe will be teaching French, Health and Science. She is hoping this time in the classroom will give her experience with a different age group and to see the major differences between teaching grades 7-9 compared to grades 10-12. The ultimate goal for Chloe is to be able to make an informed decision when applying to Bachelor of Education programs. She says, “When I am able to apply, I want to feel comfortable with the path I choose for my future.”

Courses: Introduction to Education 211 (Students are required to complete 25 hours of teaching and observing in a classroom), and Leadership 203 (Students are required to complete 15 hours of Service Learning)
Instructors: Cynthia MacDonald/Inge Dorsey
Community Partner: Vernon River Consolidated School
Student: Simone Farish, First Year, B.A, Pre-BEd. Learning Community

Over Simone’s 25 hours of volunteer work she volunteered at Vernon River Consolidated School, which she attended from Kindergarten through to Grade 9 in the past. Simone was able to volunteer with her former 6th Grade teacher. Vernon River is a very small community between Stratford and Montague; there are approximately 150 students from Kindergarten to Grade 9. Simone says, “The school and staff are amazing and most of the teachers teach a variety of classes.” The classroom Simone volunteered in was very small, only 18 students enrolled. In the classroom she learned a number of skills such as how to mark tests, assignments, and helping students learn through different modalities such as auditory and visual.

Recently, Simone has had the opportunity to go back to Vernon River Consolidated School. This time she was assigned to the Junior High helping Natalie Bulger with her Language Arts and Health classes. It was in these classes, that Simone started a Reading Club which gives the Junior High student a chance to a book they are interested in and then discuss what they have read. Simone says “Growing up I hated to read. I think it was the thought of someone telling me to read this 200 page book that didn’t interest me. It wasn’t until I was in Grade 10 that I liked Romantic novels. Doing the Reading Club gives the students a chance to discover their interests then improve upon their skills in reading and group discussions. This could help them  in the future. You have to know the meaning behind what you are reading not just the words on the page.” She is hopeful that the Reading Club will continue over the next few years.

Simone says, “Being given this amazing opportunity, allowed me to see if I really wanted to become a teacher. It helped open my eyes and encouraged me to pursue my dreams. From a young age, I would make my sister and cousins play school with me. Teaching them helped me to learn the material from school that day. After thinking about it, my sister would be in grade 1 learning grade 5 division and now she’s a math genius.”Simone is thankful for this experience. She loved the interaction with students and teachers, in the classroom and out on the playground. She is not 100% sure if teaching is for her, but she does see herself working with children in the future.

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