Senior Education Majors Bond with Post-Secondary Students Through Service-Learning
Diversity in American Society, taught by Dr. Jim Wood, is a required course for all senior Education majors. It is designed to broaden students’ understanding of diversity and social justice and how these concepts relate to society, tradition, and conventional wisdom. Particular emphasis is placed on authentic work in a community service organization through service-learning, student-conducted research related to that organization’s needs, and the development of cross-cultural skills and understandings.
The service-learning project included matching St. John Fisher College students with students in the Post-Secondary Transition program who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, who have completed four years of high school, and who are ready for new challenges and experiences before graduating and entering adult life. It is housed on Fisher’s campus.
Throughout the project, each Fisher student mentored a post-secondary student for one or more hours per week, determined learning goals unique to each post-secondary student, and then created a product that was designed to help their student accomplish their goals. The final products included:
- “How-To” Flash Cards for three social activities: how to throw a party, how to have dinner in a restaurant, and how to conduct an interview.
- Relay for Life participation: Created a team name (Team Lightning) and event information, helped the students register and fundraise, and participated in the event with them.
- Life Skills Information folder: Contained information like a Rochester Transit System bus schedule, job application guide, voter registration guide, health information document.
- Healthy Eating Group Binder: Contained healthy eating strategies and recipes.
“Teacher candidates taking this course learned that support for their future students does not begin and end in the classroom, but is framed by the community within which students live,” said Wood.
“Doing this program has really made me want to teach special education. I didn’t think it was something I would ever really love doing, but after my time at this program, I realize that it is something I could see myself doing. It is a job that is challenging, but also very rewarding,” said student Gina Romano.