For students at Elm Acres Youth and Family Services, the 2012-2013 school year has been more than classrooms and textbooks.
Various Service Learning projects have led them outdoors and into the community, where they are gaining valuable real-world experiences.
“The idea is to take the school subjects and what they are learning and put them in situations where they’ll apply it in the real world,” Jessi Brown, Service Learning Coordinator, said.
Projects in September included making homemade modeling clay and sculptures with residents at Pittsburg’s Carrington Place. The students also made a sampler quilt as part of a study of the history and tradition of quilting in America.
“The biggest concepts in this project,” Brown said of quilting, “are quality writing skills, following directions, making and following a plan, geometric patterns and accuracy in measuring.”
The students have also made various items such as hats, scarves, pajamas, pillows, blankets and stuffed animals to donate to TFI Family Services and CHOICES.
“In order to make a number of those items, we have placed a collection box at each building,” Brown said. “We are collecting items that would normally be thrown away and upcycling them into usable items.”
Of course, the students need a place to store all of their materials and equipment to make all of the items. To that end, another Service Learning project has been the construction of an outdoor storage shed. Brown said that project has been as educational as it has been useful.
“The students are really doing it themselves, so it teaches a lot about independence and problem solving,” she said. “These type of projects show a whole other side to the kids that we wouldn’t see if we just stayed in the classroom. They take a lot of pride in their work. They can look at this shed and say, ‘I built that.’”