Remembering a Pioneer

By Dr. James Kielsmeier, NYLC Founder
& Amy Meuers, NYLC CEO

John Glenn’s recent passing has highlighted his role as a pioneer in space exploration, but Glenn also sought new frontiers in teaching and learning as the Chair of the National Commission on Service-Learning.

Glenn was named by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in 2001 to chair the 18-member commission of notable education leaders. In April of 2001, a memorable meeting of the Commission took place at the 12th Annual National Service-Learning Conference in Denver, Colorado convened by the National Youth Leadership Council. Glenn keynoted the event that year, inspiring thousands of youth and adults to take action through service-learning.

The following January, the Commission published the report, Learning in Deed: The Power of Service-Learning for American School. It stands as one of the strongest endorsements of service-learning within K-12 education in the past 30 years and is just as relevant today as it was then. Glenn wrote in the preamble to the report, “service-learning adds a critical fourth “R” to the three R’s of education: “R” for responsibility. Let us embrace it at this moment in history when we have remembered what makes our country great, and when we require the civic responsibility of the next generation to sustain that greatness.”

Our democracy requires citizens to take responsibility and be actively engaged in solving problems. As we remember Glenn and his legacy, let us not forget that our countries youth are the new pioneers and change-makers and that we can help them build a foundation of a lifetime commitment to civic responsibility through service-learning.