In her high school statistics class, Danna Seigle needed a new way to take arcane formulas and make them tangible for her students. Instead of introducing the content as theoretical concepts, she charged her class with taking on a real issue within their school system: bullying at the nearby middle school.
Invested in the cause to curb bullying and equipped with data collected from the middle school, Seigle’s high school students came to her to for advice on how to interpret the data and construct effective solutions based on their findings. Suddenly, abstract statistics formulas had become tangible. They had meaning, and purpose.
Through partnership with the National Youth Leadership Council, transformation is happening in Henry County Schools just southeast of Atlanta, GA, where teachers and students are carving out a new approach to personalized learning – one that ties community service and volunteerism directly to classroom curriculum. In 2015 alone, 3,000 students were given the opportunity to consider their education in a contextual space. “It has been amazing to see the transformation of schools, teachers, and students. We have seen classrooms become places where teachers and students are working together to tackle vital issues in the community,” said Elizabeth Koenig, Professional Development Director at NYLC.
By developing this sort of youth-led volunteer capacity in school, students become more engaged. They better retain and appreciate what they learn because they are challenged to discover real-world applications for new knowledge. They cultivate a spirit of service that enhances their personal character and creates lifelong servant-leaders.