Service Learning FAQs
1. Do I HAVE to do service learning?
YES. Part of your commitment to being an Edgewood student is your commitment to "Service Learning" through doing community service. Edgewood students are extraordinary, and part of what makes you extraordinary is your willingness to give back to the community that has offered you such an outstanding institution of education. Failure to fulfil this commitment can and will result in a student being dismissed from Edgewood.
2. When are my hours due?
Hours are due at the end of each semester. Dates will be announced by Tribe teachers as the time approaches. Seniors will need to finish second semester hours earlier than normal in order to purchase tickets for graduation.
3. How many service learning hours do I need each school year to meet the Edgewood Service Learning requirement?
Each student is required to earn 25 hours of service learning each school year. We recommend that 12.5 hours are earned each semester. Hours earned in middle school are for School of Choice contract purposes only; hours earned in 9th through 12th grade go toward Bright Futures scholarship eligibility.
4. What is a social problem and how do I work to rectify it?
A “social problem” means an issue that affects our society as a whole. It is a problem which, in general, persists despite efforts to combat it and affects a significant and/or vulnerable population. These problems should be clearly defined in your “Identify and explain social problem” question: homelessness, hunger, poverty, childhood obesity, degradation of arts and culture, pollution, lack of care for disabled peoples, etc. Your work to rectify it should be based on whether or not your presence is allowing for an opportunity or impact that would otherwise not be there, and that you are providing a community service*.
Do not confuse the "social problem" with the work that you will be doing!
Social Problem: Homeless populations often do not have access to enough food and food banks and thus face chronic hunger problems and malnutrition. (Services Performed: I will be working in a dunk tank booth; proceeds will go through my church to benefit Helping Hands Hunger Project.)
Social Problem: Many animals are abused and neglected and funds to shelter those animals are very limited. (Services Performed: I will be working at the animal shelter as a volunteer to take care of dogs and cats waiting to be adopted.)
Social Problem: Many special-needs children lack access to and instruction in sports, which would help build ther confidence and physical dexterity. (Services Performed: I will be working with Special Olympics as a gymnastics coach for special-needs children ages 8-12.)
Social Problem: Young kids in low-income families often lead sedentary lifestyles and are at-risk for significant health problems immediately or later in life. (Services Performed: I will help coach a recreational youth team on a low-cost team through Island Soccer Club.)
Notice that the social problem is NOT "The shelter needs volunteers" or "Special Olympics needs volunteers" or "Kids need to play more soccer!".
*According to Brevard County: “Community Service is defined as identifying and addressing a social issue in the community. This requires students to look beyond themselves and reach out to an issue faced by our society today (i.e. poverty, abuse, elderly citizens). These hours will meet the requirement for the Bright Futures Award Program.”
5. How do I know if my organization and involvement fits the service learning requirement?
Non-profit status is not the only criteria an organization must meet. First and foremost, the student’s activities must be focused on alleviating a social problem (see above). Second, though, is that the activity must be a service to the community. The easiest way to ascertain whether or not a service is community-based and addressing a social problem is to consider access: does the impacted community have, at little to no cost, access to the service being performed? If the answer is no, there’s a good chance the service does not fit our criteria. A further clarifying question is to consider whether the primary purpose of the organization is philanthropic or not.
We want to separate “community service” from “free labor”.
YES – A student volunteers at her church selling pumpkins around Halloween. The money goes toward stocking the church’s food bank to help the needy.
NO – A student volunteers at a dance studio teaching younger students or assisting a teacher. The students are paying for the classes taken.
YES – A student helps teach underprivileged children how to ice skate. The classes are offered free through a local program, but take place at the ice rink.
YES – A student works at a car wash to raise money for his Relay for Life team. The money goes toward cancer research and the American Cancer Society.
NO – A student shows up to Relay for Life and walks around a track, unsponsored, for several hours. No money is raised, no service is provided.
Because volunteer services can be so disparate and unique, the ULTIMATE DISCRETION for hours falls upon the parent and the sponsoring organization.
6. Can I work with my church, temple, synagogue, or other religious institution?
Absolutely! Religious organizations do an astounding amount of charitable and community-service work. If your youth group is visiting a children’s hospital, collecting food for the hungry, building a house with Habitat for Humanity, taking a mission trip to build irrigation ditches in an impoverished area – write it up and earn hours!
If you are raising money for the church, it would be beneficial to put down what community-based projects that money will go toward on your proposal.
7. Can I earn hours over the summer?
Yes! Please do! Download and fill out a summary and work over the summer (contact Mr. Worcester if you have doubts as to whether your organization qualifies), but you can ABSOLUTELY earn hours ahead of the coming school year. The only trick will be hanging on to your log sheet until December when it is due.
8. Can I earn my hours through Relay For Life?
Yes - but you must do them the right way. The hours a student logs should be hours spent in service of the problem (“Not enough money for cancer research and treatment”), which means those hours should be spent raising money to help pay for her team’s entrance to the event OR working at a booth selling knickknacks and snacks while at the event OR working as part of the event staff for the organizers. The event itself, the “Relay”, is really a celebration and a symbolic gesture of the work that leads up to it, and hours cannot be earned simply for attending the event.
9. Can I donate items for hours?
NO. There is no direct connection between the value of a donated item and the value of service hour, so this would be difficult to measure objectively from the get-go. Moreover, most donated items are purchased by parents, not students, and thus the actual sacrifice has nothing to do with the student and thus is the "learning" component missing. Most importantly, though, a quick drop-off donation does little to connect the student to the community and to the need being addressed, which is the most direct purpose of the "learning". Now, the student can put in hours asking for donations for an organization (with their blessing and backing) and earn the hours that way.
Yes -- the obvious exception to this is the Food4Thought campaign run by the school in the fall; however, Mrs. Robbins has been requiring kids to help in the organization and collection of the goods alongside the donation to earn their hours.
10. Why do I need to do another proposal for 2nd semester if I already did the same service learning project during 1st semester?
At the end of 1st semester all service learning done up to that point will be turned into the student’s Tribe teacher. Edgewood will review and see how many hours have been completed by each student through the first semester. Parents of students who are below the recommended 12.5 hours will be notified.
10. What are “transcript hours”?
Transcript hours can be earned by students in grade 9-12. Transcript hours are service learning hours that are earned above and beyond the required 25 hours of Edgewood. These hours would count towards Bright Future Scholarship and can be earned at anytime. Please remember a proposal must be submitted and approved prior to earning hours.
*Students should make copies of all signed proposals and log sheets prior to turning into their Tribe teacher.*