29th Annual National Service-Learning Conference

Photo of Gateway School teachers Sarah Hernandez and Kim Lenz - Service-learning at Gateway School


We are so thrilled to announce that two teachers from Gateway School’s Service Learning Committee have been recognized for their incorporation of service learning work in their classrooms. Kindergarten teacher Sarah Hernandez and 8th Grade Humanities teacher Kim Lenz will be giving presentations at the 29th Annual National Service-Learning Conference in Saint Paul, Minnesota on March 11 – 13, 2018.

Sarah and Kim begin their service learning instruction with a question: What are the needs of your community? Students are encouraged to spend time considering different needs and identifying people who have those needs in the community. The groups who are identified are asked if they will share their stories. Students also conduct interviews to learn more about the groups and their needs, which leads to deeper understandings and strengthens the relationships of everyone involved. Afterwards, they collectively decide how they would like to move forward.

During service learning projects Sarah and Kim’s classes plan, reflect on, and refine their activities, making it a true learning experience. They choose to serve a specific group or cause that fosters an enriching, hands-on experience that they feel connected to. The result is a deeper, more personal understanding of, and connection to, people in the community and the needs they have. Kim’s class has been working with the Walnut Avenue Family and Children’s Center. Sarah’s class is still exploring the community, her last class chose to work with the SPCA.

At the Annual National Service-Learning Conference Sarah and Kim will be facilitating conversations about how to include young learners in this rich and unique learning method. They will speak about implementing service learning and social justice through a developmentally appropriate lens responsive to the grade levels of implementation. Sarah’s workshop will specifically address the unique challenges of integrating service learning into the K-2 classroom, while Kim’s workshop will cover incorporating service learning in middle schools. Their presentations will also include the constraints, challenges, and successes they have experienced. We are so proud of Sarah and Kim’s meaningful contributions to our community here in Santa Cruz, at Gateway School, and now at the national level!