A seed grows into a plant, which blooms a flower, then bears a fruit, only to fall onto the ground with another seed, to grow another plant, to bloom another flower, only to bear another fruit and so on…
This circle has become quite evident to me in my work as a Service Learning Coordinator in Grand Rapids Public Schools. A student who cares about a piece of the community, and a teacher who sees that care and is able to empower that feeling to become action, is truly a beautiful flower. Over the past one and a half years in my AmeriCorps position, I have been exposed to many schools. The resources, the teachers, the students, and the communities are all different, but wherever there are students and teachers who communicate their care great things happen.
At Forest Hills Central Middle School, though the students are quite rowdy this time of year, Ms. Sevigny brings them outside in her Natural Expressions class. Her class is one of the only classrooms in the school that connects students with nature on an almost daily basis. Together, she and I are combining the students desire and care for the environment into an awareness project about the watershed in our area. The students are creating an interactive sculpture to be featured at the River City Water Festival to encourage people to make one commitment about one thing they will do to protect the watershed. By combining science curriculum with art and community expression this service-learning project provides an environmental reflection for all those who participate.
My strengths in this position include an ability to plan large projects while still focusing on the details. By working with teachers to plan large school-wide projects, I am able to empower them to connect a bigger community, larger than their classroom, to each other. I have had much success with taking a leadership role for the first large scale project, then a side seat for the next, and finally they have begun to plan them on their own. I cannot fully express how excited this makes me because I feel like I am truly doing my job as a capacity builder.
If you would like to gain some insight into my perspective on planning school-wide service projects, read this article I wrote for Learning to Give: 11 Steps to Plan a School-Wide Service Project.
As all of us AmeriCorps members work hard to finish out the last half of our service year or all the professionals begin a new fiscal year, I encourage everyone to think about their current place in the circle. Is it time for growth, for blossom, for production, or is it time for reflection? By taking a moment to think about this, you may find some insight into how you can be your best at this time.
Each blog post is written by one of our program's VISTAs!