One of our primary goals when educating students is to educate them as engaged citizens. We strive to instill in our students a desire for a lifelong commitment to be civically engaged and we see our college’s role in preparing them for this as a priority.
The Evolution of Civic Engagement at NSCC:
In 2001 we started a service-learning program with a handful of faculty and 35 students. In the next several year this grew to over 100 students participating. One of our first projects was our OTA students doing back pack awareness at local elementary schools.
In 2008-2010 a partnership between service-learning and student life developed and such activities as Days of Service, Sustainability Events, and voter awareness and registration grew and expanded. Furthermore we became aware that our faculty and staff were active in the community as well serving on non-profit boards and developing deep partnerships in the community thru their service-learning projects and leading their clubs and activities to do service events. 300 students were participating in the service-learning program at that time.
Concurrently the college developed what we called an overarching partnership at a local elementary school in Lynn. This partnership included both curricular and co-curricular support and is still active today:
Painting cafeterias and classrooms
Reading to students
Tutoring students in Math
Providing health awareness education
Providing STEM education
Educating students about the college going process
Most recently in 2018 providing care packages to teachers and students along with encouraging notes to cheer them on towards the end of the school year.
In 2010 we were named one of six community college’s in the nation classified as a Carnegie Community Engaged Institution
In 2013-2014 we did an intensive self-study of our service-learning program which led to more flexible ways students can engage in and benefit from this experience. In the next five years student participation in service-learning came to reach nearly 1000 students.
In 2014 we added the position of Graduate Fellow of Service-Learning Program to coordinate this expanding program.
During our recent review and revision of our mission, vision, and values, fostering a lifelong commitment for our students to become engaged citizens was integral to our crafting of these statements.
In 2015 we received a state sponsored grant to initiate the integration of service-learning into our First Year Experience Courses. Training, the development of a new Handbook for Faculty in concert with Faculty and Administrative support led to service-learning being embedded across First Year Experience Courses.
In 2015 we created a Civic Learning Committee comprised of Students, Faculty, Administrators, and Community Partners.
One of their efforts was initiating the noting service-learning on the academic transcripts of our students.
Out of this committee also came increased professional development offerings for civic engagement looping our community partners into our professional development as well as increasing awareness of voting issues and voter registration (Forum on Political Tolerance and Election Teach-In) (won bronze award for All-In Challenge), days of service, and interfaith awareness.
In 2016 we initiated the Civic Ambassador Program.
Through this growth and development we have utilized and participated in the initiatives of Campus Compact including professional development, consistently nominating students to be Newman Civic Fellows, and utilizing their resources and support to develop a civic action plan.
A current priority is the Carnegie Reclassification for Community Engagement application taking this as one more opportunity to reflect on our strengths and opportunities in this work.
Routine Assessment of the Service-Learning Program is ongoing utilizing the following tools:
Student Satisfaction Survey
Community Partner Feedback Forms
Student Evaluation of Community Partners
Community Partner Evaluation of Students.
Student Information Form
Interviews with Community Partners focused on strength of partnership
Looking Towards the Future:
We hope to reach our Hispanic Population and provide more opportunities for them to serve at non-profits which serve the Hispanic Community. Our 2018-2019 graduate fellow in service-learning is Spanish speaking and has work experience at a Hispanic Serving Institution.
We would like to focus on our next generation of students and reach into the high schools thru our early college and other outreach programs with increased opportunities for young people to early on experience the benefits of civic engagement and prepare them for our culture of civic learning on our campuses in increased ways. Looking to bridge civic engagement between K-12 and Higher Education.
Furthermore we would like to further our work in interdisciplinary engagement. We have brought a variety of disciplines together to engage in civic learning activities but we would like to further develop this and be more intentional about it.
We hope each and every student has the opportunity to “touch” the civic engagement opportunities on our campus thru days of service, service requirement such as those of PTK, thru civic learning courses, thru sustainability, thru diversity initiatives.