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University of Wisconsin-Superior

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Superior, WI 54880

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Center for Academic Service - Learning

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Future educators learn as they advocate for local after-school program

Posted on Nov 20, 2012
UW-Superior students help children while learning about education.
click to enlarge
Tanya Oswalt helps an elementary student with math homework in an after-school program.

Tanya Oswalt helps an elementary student with math homework in an after-school program.

Future teachers at UW-Superior are helping local children while learning how to serve as advocates for after-school programs. 

Eighteen students of Dr. Haji Dokhanchi are serving 360 hours with Northern Lights Elementary School's after-school program. The service is part of their work in Political Science 230: U.S. National, State and Local Government.

This is the third year Dokhanchi has worked with UW-Superior's Center for Academic Service-Learning (AS-L) to place his students at the school in Superior. Since the partnership began, the schoolchildren are completing more homework and their teachers are getting more time to spend with students who need additional help, said Cariann Kinn, the program's coordinator.

Integrating service and learning

Academic service-learning is heavily integrated in Dokhanchi's course learning goals. His students critically examine policy in education while serving with the after-school program. 

The real world experience helps the UW-Superior students develop solutions. They can step back and see where strengths, weakness, and positive changes lie in programs.

Students in the course have a choice of whether they want to participate in ASL. Those who do, share their experience with the class. This helps move class discussion forward.

Multiple roles of teachers

As future teachers, the students are learning about the multiple roles they will have in the schools. Serving as an advocate for children and programs that benefit them is just one of those roles.

"Quality education affects everyone in a community," Dokhanchi said.

Only so much to learn from books

"There is only so much students can learn from reading books … AS-L has an innate value; the experience provides what books do not.  It makes visible the invisible,"
he said.  Students learn to question their own assumptions about poverty and discover, through their own interactions, new solutions. 

A valuable partnership to teachers and students

Kinn explained how the connection the UW-Superior students make with the elementary students is amazing and awesome.

"The kids really love having them here. They are great mentors… Having them here helps make sure students are getting the homework help they need," she said. 

UW-Superior students help with homework, play academic games, serve as mentors, and create friendships for the kids. Teachers daily ask if students are coming; they love the support and help the students give. 

"The hugs our kids give to the students and the conversations they have with our students is the best part," said Kinn.  

Student advocates

Tanya Oswalt, an English secondary education major from Duluth, illustrated the dynamic environment found with the after-school program. 

As a parent herself, Oswalt described how sometimes education policy can negatively affect children and decrease communication to the parents.  It then increases the urgency and importance of programs like this after school program. 

This experience has shown her how as an aspiring teacher, she will need to acknowledge various teaching and learning styles to positively help students.  Serving as an advocate for this program, Oswalt said, allows her to be a positive role model for the students she tutors.

Academic Service-Learning is an innovative teaching and learning strategy that provides students with opportunities to deepen their knowledge and learn new skills by
matching academic goals to the needs of community organizations. Students apply
concepts and skills they learn in the classroom and give that knowledge back to
the community. In return, they gain practical experience while serving others.

News Contact: Katelyn Baumann | Kbauman3{atuws}
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