Click Here for Mini Grant Information & Application
Click Here to learn more about the collaboration with The Mill Children exhibit including examples of teacher lessons, student work and performances, and more.
Click Here for the "Teacher's Guide to The Mill Children"
Click Here for Service Learning Tips & Tools
Click Here for the Non-Funded Service-Learning Project Report
Click Here for the North Adams Service-Learning Project Summaries 2010-2011
Click Here for the North Adams Service-Learning Project Summaries 2009-2010
Click Here for the North Adams Service-Learning Project Summaries 2008-2009
Scroll to the bottom of the page to read about the Garden Mosaics Program
Service-Learning in the North Adams Public Schools
What is Service-Learning?
Service-Learning (S-L) is a method of teaching and a way of learning. Students develop academic knowledge and skills as they address real community needs and problems through service activities connected to their curriculum. Service-Learning projects address a wide variety of needs including education, the environment, public safety, and human needs such as poverty and hunger. Service-Learning is also known as Community Service-Learning. Service-Learning is experiential and highly engaging. Students learn through the application of knowledge and skills in purposeful, meaningful and real work.
Service-Learning is a ‘value-added’ teaching method. In addition to being an effective strategy for teaching core subjects, teachers are also able to integrate learning objectives for social and emotional learning, 21st Century skills, civic education, career exploration, and workplace readiness.
The History of Service-Learning in North Adams Public Schools
Steeped in a long tradition of community service in North Adams, grassroots organizing and leadership by Drury High School faculty in 1992 led to the development of a pre-K-12, district-wide service-learning program. Drury High School continues to lead the initiative to spread the practice of service-learning both within the other schools and programs in the North Adams system as well as in the wider region. The service-learning program has been cited as a shining star within the school district. The ethics and practice of S-L are well infused into the culture and curriculum of the schools. Some projects recur repeatedly such as the Drury Senior/Senior (Citizen) Prom that has been held annually since 1994; however many are responsive to changing and immediate needs such as supporting victims of the recent disasters, addressing hunger in response to the economic recession, green energy projects, raising awareness about bullying, and collaborations with local artists and the Hoosic River Revival Coalition.
During 2010-2011, over 108 projects were supported through the program with the participation of 81% of district students. Launched in 2010, a new initiative involves all seniors in a capstone service-learning experience connected to their English curriculum. To see summaries of projects, please access the links on service-learning page of the district website.
North Adams received its first grant for S-L from Learn and Serve America in 1993. The program grew rapidly and in 1999, the Corporation for National & Community Service named Drury High School a National Service-Learning Leader School. Representatives from Drury were hosted twice in Washington, DC for award ceremonies and leadership conferences. Such notables as Shirley Sagawa, Ted Sizer and Senators Ted Kennedy and Harris Woffard presented the awards.
The New England Association for School and Colleges recognized the excellence of the S-L program throughout its 2003 reaccredidation report on Drury High School. Citations included the program’s advancement of the school’s mission, its efficacy in teaching and learning, and as a central characteristic of positive school climate.
The National Commission for Service-Learning, chaired by Senator John Glenn referenced the North Adams program in its 2002 report Learning in Deed: The Power of Service-Learning for American Schools. The Kellogg Foundation produced a film to accompany the Commission’s report and North Adams was one of three school systems featured in the film along with Philadelphia and San Francisco. Spotlighted local projects included Roberta Sullivan’s kindergarten project with the North Adams Regional Hospital and Sue Chilson’s high school Spanish students teaching lessons to elementary children. A clip featuring North Adams projects can be viewed on YouTube.
North Adams projects have been published in several books including Promising Practices; Kids Taking Action; and Lend A Hand: Exploring Service-Learning Through Children’s Literature as well as in numerous magazines, newspapers, etc. Program Coordinator Anne French contributed an essay and several North Adams projects were cited in The Complete Guide to Service-Learning: Proven, Practical Ways to Engage Students in Civic Responsibility, Academic Curriculum & Social Action (2010) by Cathryn Berger Kaye.
North Adams won First Place at the “Best of the Atlantic” Regional Service-Learning Showcase at the 2006 National Service-Learning Conference in Philadelphia for the exhibition: Education to Eradicate Terrorism: Afghanistan School Aid Project.
Additionally, multiple individual teachers, school administrators and classrooms have been presented with awards recognizing exemplary projects and leadership in service-learning. The Community Service-Learning Council to the Board of Education named James Montepare the 2010 Massachusetts Service-Learning Superintendent Leader and Drury Principal Amy Meehan the 2009 Principal Leader Award. Drury teachers Molly Meczywor (2010) and Keith Davis (2012) were selected for Community Service-Learning Teacher Leader Awards. All were recognized for their commitment to service-learning as an instructional methodology and for their leadership in advancing its practice.
Collaboration with community partners is a key element of effective service-learning. Classroom projects partner with many local organizations including the Berkshire Food Project, Habitat for Humanity, the Growing Healthy Community Garden Program, and the Hoosic River Revival Coalition.
The North Adams Public Schools, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and Northern Berkshire Community Coalition began collaboration around service-learning in 1994 and formalized their partnership in 2000 through the award of a Community, Higher Education, School Partnership grant. Although the grant program has ended, the partnership continues to work to advance service-learning opportunities and civic involvement for youth and students of all ages. The partnership was one of eight in the country recruited to participate in the National P-16 Service-Learning Leadership Summit hosted by the University of Nebraska, Omaha in September, 2009.
The North Adams S-L program adheres to national and state models for best practices of high quality service-learning. Teachers develop and implement curriculum-based S-L units with learner outcomes that reflect the Learning Standards of the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks. The North Adams program echoes the models for quality put forth by national leaders in the field such as National Youth Leadership Council, the National Service-Learning Partnership, the Corporation for National and Community, Catherine Berger Kaye and Kids Consortium. Teachers are encouraged to lead students through a project process that includes investigation, preparation and planning, action, reflection and demonstration. Teachers are encouraged to incorporate the research-based, K-12 Service Learning Standards for Quality Practice released in 2008 by the National Youth Leadership. The standards address meaningful service, link to curriculum, reflection, diversity, youth voice and leadership, partnerships, progress monitoring and duration and intensity.
The North Adams S-L Program provides a Service-Learning Coordinator to assist teachers with project development. In addition, a Service-Learning Advisory Board has been sustained since 1994 through which teacher representatives serve as liaisons and mentors to their colleagues. The program offers comprehensive services that include mentoring, technical assistance, professional development, transportation, and mini-grant opportunities.
For more information contact:
(413)662-3240 ext. 1204
The Garden Mosaics Program
When Amy Meehan returned from a service-learning leadership conference for school administrators in 2007, she was inspired to spark a local Garden Mosaics program. She saw this as an opportunity to increase teacher and student collaboration across disciplines, to strengthen students’ connectedness to school, to provide an outdoor classroom for engaging, hands on learning experiences, and to contribute needed food to the local community. Her idea coincided with a community-wide initiative called Target: Hunger that strived to increase access to healthy food for local people facing food insecurity. A partnership was launched between the NAPS service-learning program, the Growing Healthy Gardening program and the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. Grants from community partners supported a leadership group of teachers and partners who met over the course of several years to connect gardening to curriculum, identify service opportunities and scope out an initial plan. With the leadership of science, technology, math, English and family and consumer science teachers and students, the first Drury beds were constructed and installed in spring of 2008 and cultivated by students during the summer STEPS program.
Over the past four years, the program has spread across the entire district. Funded with service-learning grants and facilitated by the leadership of great teachers at each site, gardens have been built, installed and tended to by students. Gardens are located at Brayton, Sullivan, Greylock, Drury and the Community Transition Program. The Off-Campus Program provides construction support, seedlings, and onsite learning enhancement activities for students of all ages. In addition, students have designed, built and installed gardens at three community sites: Sperry Avenue, River Street and at the Berkshire Food Project.
Truly a Mosaic experience, the program has involved teachers from all schools and disciplines, and from after school and summer programs. Our gardening partner, Jennifer Munoz has collaborated with us to coordinate planting, maintenance and harvesting activities at each of the sites, to weigh and document yields and to ensure that gardens are harvested and maintained when student groups are not available.
Through gardening activities, students are applying knowledge and skills in science, math, technology, English/language arts, and health. Students also have the opportunity to learn about the benefits of locally grown food, food security and hunger, sustainability issues, and community resources. Service connections have included soil testing, siting studies, design and construction of raised beds, the donation of harvested food to the Berkshire Food Project, rainwater collection, composting, artistic signage and construction of a garden shed. Many students also have the opportunity to prepare and serve lunch at the Berkshire Food Project to see firsthand how the food is needed and used.
As a district, donated contributions of fresh, organic and delicious produce have grown from over 232 lbs. in 2009, to 325 lbs. in 2010, to 335 lbs. in 2011. Diverse crops are raised and include the use of heirloom seedlings. Harvested produce has included strawberries, sugar snap peas, green and purple bush beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, Asian greens, mixed lettuce, rainbow Swiss chard, summer squash and zucchini, delicata winter squash, sweet peppers, hot peppers, green onions, radishes, nasturtiums, carrots, garlic scapes, heads of garlic, various herbs, celery, and red cabbage.
A common challenge for school garden programs is ensuring that they are cared for when students are not available or when school is not in session. This summer, a grant will allow us to pilot a summer “Green Gardeners” program. Robyn Lawson and Jennifer Munoz will work with a group of students who will travel to each garden that needs maintenance and harvesting on a weekly basis. Produce from Brayton, Drury, Sullivan and CTP will be weighed, documented and donated to the Berkshire Food Project. Greylock School students will distribute food to neighborhood residents. In addition, several summer programs will engage students in activities with the gardens.
Thank you to all of you who have contributed to this excellent initiative!
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