SRU’s civic engagement breakfast will feature “community scan” discussion
Nov. 10, 2017
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University's Office of Community-Engaged Learning will continue its "Spotlight on Civic Engagement" breakfast series with a presentation about ways that serving-learning practitioners can learn about communities before they engage with them.
Christine Walsh, associate professor of elementary education and early childhood, will lead the presentation, "Prerequisite Experiences for Engagement in Service Learning: Understanding the Culture of a Community," from 8-9:30 a.m., Nov. 17 in the Smith Student Center Theater. The second of six spotlight sessions, which includes a pancake breakfast, is free and open to the public, but attendees must RSVP on the event page of SRU's CORE platform or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org by Nov. 13.
Walsh and three students from her Curriculum Integration: Theory into Practice course will share how they conducted a "community scan" of the Sharon City School District before students entered into field experience at elementary schools in the district. The SRU students used techniques to understand sociocultural factors that helped them teach the students as well as facilitate a family engagement workshop.
"Anyone who enters a community as a professional or in service-learning will benefit from understanding the culture of the community," Walsh said. "Our students approached it as beginning ethnographers and considering what it means to live your lives in this community."
Walsh will provide attendees samples of the community scan and reflections from her students: Rachael Flaherty, a senior early childhood and special education major from Seven Fields; Aubrey Grazier, a senior early childhood and special education major from Lower Burrell; and Sarah Mickinak, a senior early childhood and special education major from Latrobe.
"The community scan is a series of directions of what they are observing," said Walsh, providing examples such as looking at the type of businesses and resources available. "How you go into a community not being a tourist or making judgments, but understanding what it means to be part of the community."
The service-learning program benefits SRU students by giving them practical field experience and the Sharon City School District is provided additional classroom support through instruction that is tailored to their needs. Additionally, SRU students provide a one-hour workshop to parents and guardians about how they can support their children's learning at home.
More details about SRU's partnership with Sharon City Schools are available here: http://www.sru.edu/news/100417b.
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