The fundamental mission of St. Mary's County Public School (SMCPS) Service-Learning Program is to engage students in a meaningful learning environment that fosters their understanding and commitment to civic engagement. In order to address complex issues confronting our communities, SMCPS recognizes and values its responsibility to prepare students to be active, responsible, and informed citizens. The SMCPS Service-Learning Program engages students to apply their academic classroom learning in a structured setting as they address community needs and develop skills that cultivate social innovation.
Student Service Learning
Service-learning is a problem-solving instructional strategy that links the Maryland States Curriculum (MSC), Maryland College and Career Readiness Standards, and College, Career, and Civic Life Social Studies Framework with a societal issue. Service-learning projections must include academic preparation, service activities that meet visible community needs, and structured reflection to reinforce the concepts learned. St. Mary's County Public Schools (SMCPS) requires seventy-five hours (75) of service-learning. Students fulfill the student service-learning graduation requirement in each of the three years of middle school and in the high school United States History and Government courses. While in the middle school, students complete a total of forty-five (45) hours. It includes fifteen (15) hours at each grade level. The high school completes thirty (30) hours, which is divided into fifteen hours in Grade 9 and fifteen hours in Grade 10.
All service-learning projects must include PREPARATION, ACTION, and REFLECTION:
Preparation is the first step of service-learning in which students work with teachers and community memebers to:
- Identify issues affecting the community
- Select project site(s) and how to address a selected issue
- Plan service-learning reflection
- Investigate the concept of active and informed citizenship
Action is the next step of service-learning in which students carry out their service-learning experience through one of the following:
- Direct Service - Students have face-to-fact interaction with organization involved in the service-learning project. Examples may include: serving meals at a homeless shelter, working with elderly veterans in their community home, etc....
- Indirect Service - Students perform a service without having direct contact with the organization. This usually involves collecting items on behalf of an organization to address the community problem. Examples may include food and clothing drives, collecting items for a care packages for soldiers, etc.....
- Advocacy - Students educate others about a selected issue with the objective of increasing awareness about the issue, as well as eliminating the causes of a certain problem. Examples may include writing letters to legislators, newspaper editors, developing webpages and blogs, creating educational materials to be shared with certain audiences, etc...
Reflection is the final step of service-learning in which students look back upon the completed project and review what they have learned. Reflection may be done individually (journals, scrapbooks, teacher-student meetings) or as a group (class evaluation of the project based on the goals and outcomes).
SMCPS Implementation Plan
Student Service-Learning Plans
What are Service-Learning Community Partners?
Service-Learning Community Partners are community organizations that provide civic action and service-learning opportunities for classroom-integrated or individual service-learning projects for St. Mary's County Public Schools. Service-Learning Community Partners provide project opportunities that meet the preparation, action and reflection criteria for service-learning. Partners should complete the partner process and obtain certified approval status with the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Professional Development.
How do I become a Service-Learning Community Partner?
- Complete the Service - Learning Community Partner Form
- Attend SMCPS Student Service-Learning Community Partner Orientation
- The Department of Curriculum and Instruction will award certified community partner status to organizations that (1) complete the application and (2) attend orientation, and (3) demonstrate academic enrichment and contribution to developing civic engagement through service-learning projects.
- Community Partners will receive a letter indicating if they have been awarded certified partner status.
- Approved Service-Learning Community Partners will be added to a list of certified partners that will be published on the SMCPS website and shared with Service-Learning Coordinators and school communities throughout the school system.
Why a Service-Learning Community Partners Process?
SMCPS recognizes and values the existing partnerships that we developed over the years. In order to improve and strength our Student Service-Learning Program and expand our commitment to service and civic engagement, the Service-Learning Community Partners Process will better facilitate the relationship between community organizations and schools. We encourage community partners to help us achieve our goal of graduating students with the knowledge and skills to be engaged and productive citizens. Furthermore, the process provides classroom teachers with a list of vetted partners that can support infused classroom service-learning projects, and aids students who are looking to develop independent service-learning projects.