Snow students learning the value of service in education
EPHRAIM— When a student signs up for English classes with Kellyann Ure, they shouldn’t expect all of their education to be in the classroom.
Ure, an assistant professor at Snow College, is one of several professors at Snow participating in Snow’s Civic Engagement and Service Learning Program.
Through service-learning, students in various courses at the college take what they are learning in class and apply to the community through service. Or it can work in reverse. Students can apply what they learn through community service to class assignments.
“I want my students to get outside of themselves,” Ure says. “They have to serve in some way that’s outside of their normal sphere of influence.”
Through the service-learning program, students at the college are volunteering at places like Ephraim Elementary School, Badger Daycare, the Ephraim Senior Center, and the Sanpete Pantry.
A.J. Jones, one of Ure’s students, is doing volunteer work for college credit at Ephraim Elementary for the STAR Reading Program. The service is a labor of love for the busy student-athlete, who is a starter for Snow’s basketball team.
”I have fun teaching kids how to read,” Jones says. “Kids look at us as college students and how far we’ve come, and it makes them want to work harder.”
Jenny Christensen, STAR program director at the school, says volunteerism out of the college has increased. Just last week, STAR has benefitted from 23 volunteers from Snow College alone. “It’s been amazing how many volunteers we’ve had,” Christensen says. “All of them have been really responsible.”
Ure teaches two service-learning courses. Both of them are English 1010, which focus on expository writing. “There are three ways to adapt writing to the community,” Ure says. “There is writing about the community, writing with the community and writing in the community.”
In most service-learning classes, students draw upon their experiences in the community to present in class about what they learned relative to the subject of the course. These presentations, along with the essays or research papers included, often form the bulk of the course grade.
The final point of Ure’s students’ projects will be constructing profile websites of their respective organizations, chronicling their experiences and lessons learned.
Most of Ure’s students do not come from the community they now find themselves enveloped in during their college years. “They get a different perspective on what Ephraim is.”
Ure began implementing service-learning in her courses with the Adopt-a-Grandparent program at the Ephraim Senior Citizens Center, enlisting her students to spend time assisting some of the seniors who come in to the center.
Over time, the number of students available outnumbered the seniors to be served, so Ure expanded the outreach to the elementary school and the daycare at Snow College.
Though Ure’s teaching workload mostly focuses on IVC classes (Interactive Video Conferencing), where concurrent enrollment makes service-learning projects impractical, she is committed to making every course she teaches live on-campus a service-learning class.
The preponderance of volunteer work students in the program do is based in Ephraim, but some projects have been taken place in other cities and counties.
“Some students will go to national parks and clean them up,” Ure says. “I try to stay local because it’s easier for the students. I see it as really important for students to understand their community and be involved.”
Approximately 30 courses at Snow are designated as “service learning,” and many others include a service-learning component. More than 20 professors use the modality in full or part in their courses.
The courses involved are all over the curriculum, from engineering to chemistry, to history, and even one music class. Of the courses offered, more than half of them are freshman courses. The rest are sophomore level or higher.
The word “community, as Shaun Kjar, a faculty member in communication, points out, can take many meanings. Before joining the Communication Department as a professor, Kjar was coordinator of service-learning at Snow.
“Snow College is the immediate community,” Kjar says. “As that expands, we look at the community of Ephraim. That expands into the community of Sanpete County, and so on. As students look outward more, the community grows…The service-learning program enables students at Snow to use their education on behalf of others.”