More information about this region's service-learning programs can be found by contacting the following local educational agencies:
San Joaquin County
Delta Sierra Service-Learning Collaborative
The Delta Sierra Service-Learning Collaborative (DSSLC) is a partnership of alternative education programs in the San Joaquin and Calaveras County Offices of Education; the one-school La Grange Elementary School District; and the Joe Serna Jr. Charter School. Coordinated by the Regional Lead Network out of the San Joaquin County Office of Education, the DSSLC covers three counties within California’s central valley.
The collaborative vision is to increase the number and quality of current service-learning activities to more profoundly affect students and the community. The focus is to develop a strong network that links the geographically distant sites to provide ongoing communication and support among site advocates, teachers, and students.
Service-learning activities vary throughout the collaborative but one overarching theme is environmental service projects, as evidenced by the community gardens that involve students, parents, and the community. The students also produce a "Bill Nye, the Science Guy" video to tutor younger students about science and the environment. Under the National Forest Service’s direction, more than 20,000 trees that were lost to wildfires in the foothills have been replanted over several years. The Mokelumne Watershed Project and East Bay Municipal Utility District fund a student activity that helps to restore habitat along streams and lake banks. Students participate in a recycling drive, a Tuolumne River clean-up day, and community flower box planting. Many students participate in service-learning activities through the DELTA Studies Project, which is a curriculum that has been developed for California Delta-area students to use their environment as a natural resource for interdisciplinary, project-based learning.
Other partners include the San Joaquin County Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (Senior Corps) and service clubs. These partners serve on the DSSLC Advisory Committee and support all service projects. The partnering programs and schools, including site advocates, teachers, and students, communicate regularly to share best practices, support one another, and assess the affect of service-learning projects on the schools and communities.
San Joaquin County Office of Education
P.O. Box 213030
Stockton, CA 95213-9030
Tracy Unified School District
The focus of Tracy Unified School District (TUSD) is to expand the existing districtwide professional development program. Staff development presentations include the federal definition of service-learning, clarification of the elements of high-quality service projects, how service-learning projects can be integrated to teach California’s academic content standards, examples of best practices in the field, and, above all, how to encourage the practice of service-learning and a higher level of teacher involvement in service-learning activities.
Three case studies chosen by the district’s Service-Learning Advisory Board include a recycling program managed by fourth- and fifth-grade special needs students at Central School; a school vegetable and flower garden managed by eighth-grade students at Freiler School; and a Bohn School service-learning project in which students collect supplies for American soldiers in Iraq. Each project includes integrated learning; meets a community need; accommodates students’ representation and choice; promotes civic responsibility; gives students time to assess the experience before, during, and after the project; and evaluates the progress toward meeting the project’s academic and civic goals. Information from these case studies is used to revise the district’s CalServe renewal applications.
Organizational structure is one of the strengths of service-learning. The Board of Trustees and the superintendent avidly support the program, and communication flows freely through the curriculum council members, the service-learning sites, each school’s advocates, and the Service-Learning Advisory Committee. Program decisions routinely involve site administrators, teachers, students, parents, and community partners. The district actively engages representatives from eight community agencies for the service-learning program. These include members of the Tracy Boys and Girls Club, Tracy Interfaith Ministries, the McHenry House Family Shelter, Brighter Christmas, the Tracy Historical Society, the Tracy Animal Shelter, the Salvation Army, and a representative from the San Joaquin Women’s Shelter. Nineteen of the kindergarten through grade twelve teachers participate in an annual service-learning professional development program. The program consists of advanced training in service-learning practices and gives teachers time to develop a service-learning project. The district offers kindergarten through grade twelve teachers a service-learning mini-grant of $1,600 to help them to develop and implement innovative service-learning projects that meet community needs. A service-learning coordinator oversees the development of a districtwide, service-learning Web site that is designed to inform teachers about service-learning and offers examples of successful service-learning lessons and ideas for service and action.
Teachers, students, and community partners gain invaluable experience from service-learning. The overall potential of service-learning grows with each experience.