New Style of Learning
A group of capital city kids have found moving from one school to another is a good lesson.
Three times a week Jared Cowley and his classmates leave school... in the middle of the day. But they're not up to mischief... in fact, just the opposite.
"We volunteer at various organizations around the city," said Chris Hentges, the Service Learning Class teacher, "and the kids go out during normal class time Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and they go out a do volunteer work for service agencies around town."
Class members are enrolled in the Christian Service Learning Class at Helias High School. From a list of 24 agencies, Jared chose to do his service at Kirshner State School for Special Education.
"I like the kids, their reaction to me when I walk in," Cowley said, "I mean, it just makes me feel like, you know... someone." While at Kirshner, the Helias helpers play with the special education students and help lift them up to achieve their goals.
"They really relate to someone closer to their age, and they really have fun learning," said Kay Brejcha, a teacher at Kirchner. The Helias helpers come in and use tools like Play-Dough to help each of the Kirshner students achieve their IEP goals. That stands for Individual Educational Plan. For Example, the Play-Dough helps to achieve increased dexterity.
The Kirchner students aren't the only ones who benefit from the program. The Helias students gain a lot from the experience, too. "I really do believe that many of them are really touched by their experience here," said Bob Campbell, the Principal of Kirchner, "and I know this because so often they come back."
Jared is one of those volunteers who hope to keep coming back, even after the class is over. Because of his time at Kirshner, he now wants to pursue a career that puts him with special needs students.
"We're trying to set a pattern for life long service." Hentges said, "It's something that they just don't do as part of a required class, but something they will continue to do as they grow up into adult members of society."
The Christian Service Learning Program gives the students involved an experience they never could have gotten sitting in a classroom. A chance to lend a hand, while having a ball.