Name of the organization/program
The service learning experience involved working with school-going children and adolescents with special academic, social, and emotional challenges. As such, the organization or rather program that provided an opportunity to address the aforementioned challenges faced by the target group was known as “REACH Program.”
Mission/vision of the organization/program
The REACH program is a voluntary, in-school program, which is designed and aims at assisting students who may need support academically, socially, and emotionally.
Year of establishment
During the service learning experience, it was found out that the REACH Program was incepted in 2012, and has contributed to the development of school-going children and adolescents for three years.
Types of Services Provided (age-group, target group)
The service learning experience at the REACH Program involved the provision of several services and the targeted group of school-going children and adolescents comprised of those between Grades 9 and 12. The target group was helped in multiple ways to experience success by learning new life skills, which would help them to overcome barriers as well as other challenges in the or day-to-day lives. In this case, the focus was on class groups or teams which ideally consisted of 10-15 students who received direct instruction from two instructors. The class groups worked closely with the team of Administration, social workers, guidance counselors, as well as student families that were present. It was emphasized that the REACH program nothing only provides support to the students academically but also helps them to build skills that are needed to become successful adults, especially after graduation. The program itself followed a regimented schedule weekly, and the types of services that were provided to the target group are as follows.
Weekly check-in /Goals Group
The service learning involved weekly check-in and goals group. During weekly check-in, students had the opportunity to share about how they are faring on or doing in the arena of their social and family lives in a small-group setting. The Goals Group allowed students to reflect upon the academic, individual, and family goals that they identified in REACH, as well as the progress that they made each week towards obtaining or achieving the goals. Group members also had the opportunity to offer feedback and support while assessing each member’s level of commitment to making progress (Butin, 2010).
Character Building Exercises
Every Wednesday in REACH was a skill-building day, and the team instructors played a phenomenal role in leading the students in character building exercises. REACH students worked as a group to build problem-solving and life skills through a variety of experiential exercises. These fun activities helped the teams to build or establish close and supportive relationships while developing skills that in essence, they can carry with them into adult life (Butin, 2010). Some of the skills learned during character building exercises included physical fitness, team problem solving, planning for the future, as well as outreach and giving back to the community.
Every Tuesday and Thursday in the REACH program was marked by the provision of academic support and advice to the students. These were known as academic days during which REACH students were provided with an opportunity to focus on their core required classes, and they received one-on-one tutoring from the REACH staff whenever was necessary. The REACH staff worked closely with the high school instructors to ensure that each of the students made significant academic progress. Students were also reminded of their responsibility to complete the course work required if they were to achieve or reach their goal of graduating.
The primary purpose of the service learning was to address the academic needs or challenges of the target group, and thus, one of the activities in which the team was involved was grade check-ins. In this case, the two team instructors maintained the students in their groups and went around checking the grades that the students scored in school while advising them on possible ways of improving the same. The service learning also aimed at addressing social challenges faced by the community, and involvement in community service recycling, in one way or another helped solve this problem. The students went around collecting inappropriately dumped waste material, which was later categorized into those that could be recycled and those that could not be recycled.
Perspectives learned about oneself
There were several activities that students learned about themselves through service learning activities in which they were involved. Through service learning activities, students were motivated to continue to try and make a difference not only in their lives but society in entirety (Butin, 2010).
Perspectives learned about the counseling profession through SL activities
The service learning activities provided students as well as instructors with an opportunity of learning more about the counseling profession. In fact, the SL activities made them learn about how influential a caring counselor can become. Essentially, the service learning experience renewed the interests of students and instructors on counseling.
What kind of a person does it take to be successful at the kind of work the agency does?
As mentioned earlier, the REACH Program’s primary purpose was to provide assistance of any kind to students facing academic, social, or emotional challenges. There is no doubt that dealing with such individuals can be hectic, stressful, and tiresome, and thus, to be successful in such a kind of work, it is important for an individual to be patient, energetic, and accountable. Patience, in this case, would enable a person to handle students who are slow when it comes to academic-related problems. In the real sense, people respond to situations at different speeds, and being patient would be critical in such as situation. An energetic person would effective in the performance of activities that would help solve emotional and social challenges. For instance, involvement in community service, which would help solve emotional and social challenges, requires so much energy. Accountability, in this case, would ensure that students have access to the resources provided, which would, in turn, help them solve the challenges they face.
How the experience is beneficial to oneself and the community agency
There is no doubt that while addressing or solving academic, social, and emotional challenges faced by students or the larger target group, counseling would play a significant role. As such, the experience is beneficial to oneself as it enhances counseling and interactional skills. The experience is beneficial to the community agency as it helps eradicate academic, social, and emotional challenges faced by members.
How the service learning experience relates to the CNSA 655 course and concepts related
The service learning experience relates to the CNSA 655 course as they both influence change in behavior (Butin, 2010). Some of the key concepts learned in class that were related to the service learning are community service and character building.
Butin, D. W. (2010). Service-learning in theory and practice: The future of community engagement in higher education. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.