​Lebanon High School program teaches importance of service

Q&A with Libby Turpin, Family and Consumer Science teacher.

Contact this contributing writer at lisa.knodel@gmail.com.

A service learning class is teaching Lebanon High School students the importance of making a difference.

During the semester-long elective class, students develop a community service project from start to finish, while learning important real-life skills. Currently, 16 LHS juniors and seniors are enrolled in the class. The service learning program is in its second year.

Teacher Libby Turpin explains more about the service-oriented class:

Q: What is the purpose of the service learning class?

A: The best way to answer this question is to quote the "elevator speech" created by last semester's class. "Service Learning is a hands-on experience with our peers where we combine classroom learning with service to the community. We are developing our own projects to meet the specific needs we have recognized."

Q: How did the service learning class begin?

A: I did a service learning project in college about six years ago, and it was extremely meaningful. That is where I really began to discover my passion for teaching.

When I suggested the class to our principal, Mr. (Scott) Butler, he was gracious enough to trust me to develop it. I also had the opportunity to help develop the state curriculum for this class, so it is actually one of the Family and Consumer classes, which can be offered at any high school in the state.

Q: What types of service projects do students complete?

A: It depends on what needs they see and have a passion for. We have had students collect personal care items for students in need, visit a small nursing home with small gifts and notes of encouragement for the residents, provide clothing vouchers for a local high school that was starting an internship program, collect items to send to troops, and film a video on how great it is to live in Lebanon — to name just a few. With each of these projects, they learn and practice professional skills, which will help them be successful in the future.

Q: Why is a class like this one important?

A: I think Service Learning is important, not just because of the lessons they learn, but also because it is learning in a different setting. It is definitely not a traditional classroom, and sometimes the students don't even realize how much they have learned until the end of the class. And, not only do they learn, but they also get to experience.

Q: What lessons do students learn by participating?

A: Students learn and practice professional and interpersonal skills, which they will use for the rest of their lives. They also learn what it means to give back to their community. Sometimes their projects don't go as planned, so they learn critical thinking and problem-solving. They learn time management, networking, budgeting, conflict management, responsibility and accountability, to name a few.

Q: What do you enjoy most about teaching the service learning class?

A: As much as I love my other classes, Service Learning is probably my favorite, because of how much I see the students grow during the semester. I get to relate to them on a very different level, as they are entrusted with a lot of responsibility in this class. To see the changes that they experience and the maturity with which they handle decisions is so very rewarding.

Q: Do you have any partners for this class?

A: We have a very special partner in this class — Magnified Giving. This incredible organization is committed to teaching kids about philanthropy: giving of time, talent and treasure. Service Learning helps students realize the importance of giving their time and talent, but young people usually don't have the resources to give significant "treasure."

Magnified Giving gives our classes a $1,000 grant to donate to a local non-profit organization that is doing great work in our area. My students have to do research on the purpose, finances and effectiveness of the non-profit, and then they decide, by consensus, which non-profit will receive the $1,000 grant.

The kids then get to experience the joy and fulfillment of helping others financially, as well as with their service projects. It is my privilege to teach this incredible class at LHS, and I am so thankful to Magnified Giving for partnering with us.