Faculty Fellows Bring Service-Learning Into The Classroom

OCC students work with students from The Big Picture School as part of the new Service-Learning Faculty Fellowship Program.

OCC deepened its institutional commitment to incorporating service learning into coursework during the 2016-17 academic year. A President’s Incentive Grant helped the college create the new Service-Learning Faculty Fellowship Program. The support provided fellows with resources, professional development training and a mentor. The inaugural class of Service-Learning Faculty Fellows included Richard Blankenship and Fairlie Firari of English/Reading/Communication along with Lisa Dodge of Human Services.

Students in Professor Blankenship’s Intermediate Composition (ENG 211) class partnered with The Big Picture School (Lafayette Central School District) in Lafayette. OCC students worked with 9th graders, reading each other’s papers and providing peer-to-peer face-to-face reviews. Students also participated in a common read and discussed their different perceptions. “Writing to a real audience rather than a teacher made a big difference,” said Blankenship. “OCC students communicated and connected with Big Picture students. They had conversations and learned more than the material in the course. Students went above the expectations and learned from each other.”

Faculty Fellows Richard Blankenship (left) and Fairlie Firari (right).

Professor Firari’s Intercultural Communications (COM 282) course provided students with the opportunity to do research in various locations throughout Syracuse. Students interacted with refugees and immigrants, in the process learning what they went through to get here. “Every student that participated said it was eye-opening,” said Firari. “When faced with people from other countries, cultures and languages they really did have some preconceived ideas. Shedding those was important as was interacting, getting involved and understanding who is in the community.” Each group was required to do a presentation on their research project.

Students in Professor Dodge’s Social Work and People with Disabilities (HUM 269) class also spent time in the community. One of her student’s, Caleb Beman found the work had a profound impact on him.

“I constantly am in discussion with my coworkers, professors, fellow students, and peers about the types of discrimination that people with disabilities still live with and as I grow older I’m going to do my part to become more involved in local, state, and potentially even national politics,” said Beman. He was awarded Service-Learning Civic Engagement Recognition for his outstanding work.

The Service-Learning Faculty Fellowship program will continue in the fall with four more programs.

  • Professor Ben Miller, Advocacy & Opposition (COM 204), students will identify a community issue and develop an advocacy campaign on campus.
  • Professor Mary Dooley, Geriatric and Palliative Care (NUR 298), will fully engage students on a personal level to get to know this population and their needs.
  • Professor Tim Haskell, Freshman Composition (ENG 103), will partner with Literacy CNY to have students work with adult literacy learners in Syracuse.
  • Professors Malkiel Choseed and Donna Stuccio, English and Criminal Justice classes, will partner with inmates at the Jamesville Penitentiary to provide Shakespeare/Play Writing classes. Students will serve as classmates and peer mentors.

OCC’s Service Learning committee is co-chaired by Electronic Media Communications Professor Linda Herbert and Maria Malagisi, Assistant Director of Service-Learning.

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