WHAT DO PEOPLE SAY ABOUT THE SLP EXPERIENCE?
“In the Fall of 2014, my son was a 5th grader at PS 261 in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. It happened to be the first year that Liz Pitofsky brought her Service Learning Project to our school. Over twelve weeks, all five fifth grade classes (approximately 150 students) participated in the program and I do not think it’s an exaggeration to say that it was a highlight of their elementary school educations. As a parent on SLT, I was lucky enough to observe many sessions and all I could think is that we hit the jackpot.
Simply put, in one program, SLP manages to encompass so many elements of real, meaningful learning: research, analysis, problem-solving, critical thinking, communication and team work. And because it is all in service of a real world issue that the students themselves have chosen, the work seems to engage on a truly deep level. They care. First they become little experts and then, they become agents of change, sometimes even impassioned crusaders. And maybe the best part is that all along, they are having fun.
Topics chosen by our students included animal kill shelters, healthier school lunches, and bias in the NYPD. The kids who investigated animal kill shelters emerged with an “Adopt Don’t Shop” newsletter, which they distributed throughout the school. My son’s class looked into healthier school lunches and their project culminated with a power-point presentation to our Principal, where she learned that the DOE actually has an existing option for a healthier lunch and she learned the steps to request it for our school.
I saw the students engaged in their topics on multiple levels: academic, social and personal. They learned, in the most real-world terms, that active learning can make change in their schools, their communities, in their own lives. What an exciting realization, one that I firmly believe will inform their world-view well beyond the fifth grade. In the end, students, teachers and parents all became converts of SLP. I am now working with my son’s middle school to bring it to there, they should be so fortunate.”
“My son had the privilege of experiencing SLP’s Residency Program in second grade. The students organized an environmentally focused campaign, situated within the school itself. The breadth of experience the kids had was amazing: interviewing the school janitor, sending out a survey they developed, preparing a poster campaign, sending home a letter to all of the parents about food waste… the kids really felt empowered to address sustainability from multiple angles and were engaged with the idea of instituting lasting change. The SLP project instigated a student-led ‘Environmental Club’ that remains in effect now, three years later. The generosity of the SLP model and its commitment to being a catalyst for change and student empowerment is extraordinary.”