Dear Service-Learning Community,

Endings are just new beginnings, or so the saying goes. There's certainly some truth to this statement, but the pain of ending is still real. As I write this, our last newsletter, it's sinking in just how much I will miss this work and the wonderful people who share a passion for service-learning as a way to engage young people in meaningful and even profound experiences.

When my colleague Ande England and I started this enterprise in January 1997, we set out with the knowledge that we might not be around long enough to make service-learning a common experience for all Texas students but that we'd do our best nonetheless. Fifteen years later we've come to the end of the road, but not before involving over 1.2 million students in thoughtful service and meaningful learning.

I am filled with gratitude that this journey lasted so long and including so many wonderful people doing extraordinary work, including co-workers, teachers, program coordinators, principals, superintendents, parents, partners, and, most importantly, students. Thank you for your many contributions to Service Learning Texas, which we always envisioned as something much greater than an office in Austin.

With your help, service-learning will continue to prosper and grow in Texas and elsewhere. As you'll read below, other organizations are stepping up to support this innovative teaching and learning strategy in new and creative ways. Resources still exist to help fund service-learning activities. A national service-learning conference will take place in Houston in October. And, as ever, students of all ages and abilities are eager to make a difference in the world, and teachers are in the perfect position to help them realize their dreams.

I encourage you to look to each other as resources, to ask young people for their input and ideas and allow them to learn from their experience, to seek partners who share your commitment and vision, to celebrate your success, and to know that service-learning is in good hands thanks to all of our efforts.

All the best,

Signature of John Spence

Service Learning Texas

Youth Leading Through Service

What is Service-Learning?

It’s a teaching strategy through which students apply what they’re learning in school to identify, research and address community needs.

Read More

Why Do It?

Because it enhances learning, builds character, and develops a sense of civic responsibility while improving schools and strengthening communities.

Read More

How Do I Do It?

Students can research local needs, agree on a project, develop a plan and go! Teachers can link the project to the curriculum and help students learn from their work.

Read More

Community Service vs. Service-Learning

Unlike community service, service-learning is directly related to classroom studies. It’s about serving AND learning.

Read More


The LEADERS Model of Service-Learning

The LEADERS model of service-learning incorporates the eight K-12 Service-Learning Standards for Quality Practice into an easy-to-remember format that is applicable to students and teachers alike. See the model »