By Steven Krolak
(NEW ALBANY, Ind.)–The IU Southeast Community Engagement Council has awarded the 2020 Community Engagement Awards.
Supported by the Office of Academic Affairs, the Community Engagement Award recognizes individuals and partners that have expanded opportunities for service-learning in the community.
The awards are normally presented to recipients at the Campus Commitment to Student Learning Awards program each year.
The faculty awardee is Dr. Lisa Hoffman, associate professor of education, and Parkwood Elementary School in Clarksville, Indiana is the partnership awardee.
In its announcement, the Council noted that Dr. Hoffman prioritizes service learning and community engagement in teaching, scholarship and service.
“Her scholarship and service involve community engagement and specifically the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse students in our community,” the Council said.
As the primary instructor of EDUC-H520, Social Issues in Education, a graduate-level course, Hoffman has included a required service-learning component.
“Even though our graduate students already have a wealth of experience in community engagement through their work as teachers, the School of Education embeds a clinical experience project within the master’s degree program that involves service learning with culturally and linguistically diverse learners,” Hoffman said.
Graduate students in the course choose a site where they will interact with those who face different social issues than the teachers themselves have faced in their lives. The most popular site is the English Conversation Club at the Iroquois branch of the Louisville Free Public Library.
The graduate students write critical reflection papers in which they connect their experiences with themes, topics and sources from the course material.
The H520 course was awarded a Quality Matters (QM) certification in 2019. To date it is only the second course in the IU Southeast School of Education to achieve this certification, and one of only two QM-certified courses in the IU system to include a required service-learning component.
Hoffman credits the culture of IU Southeast for supporting community engagement projects that not only benefit students and community but also instructors.
“The Office of Community Engagement has helped me grow as a teacher educator through challenging me to incorporate civic education outcomes into my courses and helping me assess service learning in a meaningful way,” Hoffman said. “Community engagement is more than just a catchphrase, it is integral to the mission of our university.”
Parkwood Elementary School was recognized for its Summer Academy.
For more than 30 years, personnel from Parkwood Elementary School and the IU Southeast School of Education have partnered to integrate service-learning as a best practice in education.
In recent years, Parkwood has welcomed an influx of students from Spanish-speaking countries who have not yet developed English language skills. By 2019, approximately 60 percent of children in the P-5 program were English Learners (ELs), and approximately 70 percent were low income, with upwards of 90 percent qualifying for free or reduced lunches.
With these numbers in mind, the IU Southeast/Parkwood Summer Academy was born, to help these children receive extra instruction during the summer and to give students in the School of Education’s Graduate Program a new service-learning opportunity. The partnership has now expanded to include pre-service opportunities for undergraduates.
That translates into potential job placement, according to Brandon Winebrenner, Parkwood principal.
“One major benefit of the program is that it brings in prospective teachers and introduces them to our Parkwood community,” Winebrenner said. “This has had an impact in our culture because often, IU Southeast students go through the summer program and then request our building for student teaching, which allows further immersion into our culture and lets us groom future educators who can immediately step in and know our students, community, challenges, and expectations.”
As a result of experience and contacts gained, the program has become a “solid pipeline for talent,” according to Winebrenner, with the majority of teachers hired at Parkwood over the past four years having come through the Summer Academy.
Through this partnership both the children and IU Southeast students learn skills and develop friendships that stay with them throughout their academic careers.
Plaques recognizing faculty and community partners will be placed in University Center.
“These awardees are examples of long-term commitment to building community partnerships and the quality of service-learning at IU Southeast,” said Dr. Gloria Murray, interim director of the Office of Community Engagement.
Homepage photo: Dr. Lisa Hoffman.