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

Latest News

Aledo Healthy Habitats Grant Wins National Award

The Environmental Club HOPE at Coder Elementary took the top prize in Texas and is one of the top 20 national finalists for the Grand Prize in the Disney Planet Challenge. The club chose to restore a pocket prairie behind the school for their project, which was one of 14 Texas Healthy Habitats grants this year. The completed project, which documents goals, experiences, student and teacher reflections, and artifacts of the work, was submitted for judging the second week of February as a digital portfolio. School administrators learned after spring break that the club's project was No. 1 in the state!
 
Disney's Planet Challenge is a project-based learning environmental competition for classrooms across the United States. DPC teaches kids about science and conservation while empowering them to make a positive impact on their communities and planet. Students select an environmental issue that they can research and investigate that allows them to take local action.

SLT Gathers Data on Community Service and Service-Learning Requiremets

Service Learning Texas is surveying Texas school districts and campuses to gather information on required service-learning and/or community service.  The resulting data will help us begin to build a profile of the types of policies that districts and campuses are employing to help students develop the habits and character traits of service.  The survey has been sent to all Texas superintendents and principals but anyone with knowledge of district or campus policies related to community service and/or service-learning is encouraged to respond.  To access the survey, which takes about 5 minutes to complete, go to http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/T3FZCBY.

Service-Learning Summer Job Opportunities

The Civic Education Project (CEP) at Northwestern University is looking for outstanding teachers from public and private schools and universities for its Summer 2012 service-learning programs. CEP programs engage motivated middle and high school students in exploring complex social issues, provide students with hands-on opportunities to examine their role in creating change, and inspire students to take action. This year, CEP will offer programs in Chicago, Baltimore, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC, covering topics such as human rights, urban development, school reform, public health, criminal justice and civic engagement.

To learn more about CEP programs and staff positions or to apply online, visit our website at: http://www.civiceducationproject.com/jobs

Global Youth Service Day

On April 20-22, youth across the globe will serve, educate, advocate, and give to address critical issues including health, education, environment, hunger, poverty, disaster preparedness and response, and human rights.  To learn more, get free planning resources, and register your project or event, visit the GYSD website at www.GYSD.org

Top 25 State Farm Project Ignition Schools Announced

State Farm and the National Youth Leadership Council recently announced the top 25 schools in this year’s Project Ignition program.  Student at each school will receive $2,000 to support their teen driver safety campaigns and compete to be named as one of 10 "Project Ignition National Leader Schools." These 10 best campaigns of the 25 will have the opportunity to receive additional funding to support their participation in a national conference or event and go deeper with their campaigns during the 2012-2013 school year.

Texas is represented this year by the Creekview High School Teen Leadership Class in Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD.  Building on the success of their “Teens in the Drivers’ Seat” program, students plan to expand their efforts to increase awareness of the five major dangers of teen driving accidents: night driving, distractions, speeding, driving under the influence and not wearing seat belts.  For a full description of their program and a list of the other 24 schools, please visit www.sfprojectignition.com.