Averett to Offer Record Number of Service-Learning Opportunities to Students in Fall

Posted on July 28th, 2021 by Matt Bell

This summer, Averett University’s Center for Community Engagement and Career Competitiveness (CCECC) facilitated a service-learning fellowship program for seven faculty and two staff members from Averett to engage and discuss future service-learning projects.

As a result, Averett students will benefit from the most service-learning class offerings ever during the upcoming semester.

Dean of Engaged Learning and CCECC Executive Director Dr. Billy Wooten said that following the service-learning fellowship, an additional 11 service-learning classes for students are being added for the fall semester.

“The number of offerings for the fall is the most ever for a single semester. Usually, we have anywhere from 50 to 60 service-learning projects per academic year. In the fall semester alone, there will be nearly 40 projects,” Wooten said.

The 11 service-learning classes are in addition to the 18 sections of Averett 101, a mandatory class for freshmen and transfer students. Each course contains a service-learning element.

Each year the CCECC hosts the fellowship to overview best practices in service-learning pedagogy. The program engages participants in a deeper understanding of the community’s needs, and explores service projects that could address those needs while helping students connect what they learn in the classroom to real-world applications. Those who participate work together to brainstorm, create plans and map out what each service-learning project will entail.

“The service-learning fellowship is held annually and made possible through the Community Engage Learning Initiative Grant, which is through the Bonner Learning Foundation in New Jersey,” Wooten said.

During the weeklong fellowship, participants examined what service-learning is really all about and how it’s implemented at other institutions. Then, they underwent a workshop for creating courses that entail service-learning projects, wrapping up with a service-learning project of their own.

“Our faculty members not only create these courses for students to have service-learning experience, but they are also willing to volunteer themselves to put into practice what they are lecturing to our students,” Wooten said. “We are proud to have a faculty and staff that takes a hands-on approach to learning and serving the community at large with a can-do attitude.”

At the conclusion of the fellowship, everyone participated in a service project in the urban garden at God’s Storehouse.

Upcoming service-learning classes created during the fellowship workshop include:

  • Adrienne Brune, associate professor of sociology, will hold a senior seminar class on inequality. Her Gender Roles in Society class will be sponsoring the University’s and community’s annual Take Back the Night event. The CCECC will assist the class with planning and implementing that event.
  • Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences Stephanie Smith will have one class participating in a childhood cancer and obesity connection project. Another class will study cancer caused by the sun, and will be implementing a sunscreen challenge on campus.
  • David Hanbury, associate professor of psychology, will have students in his developmental psychology course working with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation for a fundraiser walk in Danville.
  • Assistant Professor of Education Dr. Nina Huff will have students in her Foundations of Education class working with Danville Public Schools on an event honoring unsung heroes after the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Some of those heroes include cafeteria workers, bus drivers and janitors.
  • Dr. Slade Lellock, assistant professor of sociology/criminal justice, will continue his Social Movements course and take it beyond the civil rights movement. That course ended during the spring 2021 semester with a T.R.U.T.H Talk. For the fall semester, Lellock’s students will be studying women’s rights and the LGBTQ+ community. He also has a Research Methods class centered on oral history and civil rights in Danville, which will be a part of the Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History.
  • Pam McKirdy, director of library and instructional resources in Averett’s Blount Library, will use library work-study students to be service-learning liaisons for every section of the library. They will learn how to use library instructional resources.
  • Biological Sciences Associate Professor Laura Meder will have her environmental science class working with the Virginia Native Plant Society to develop awareness for Virginians to grow plants to help feed birds and contribute to bee pollination.
  • Shannon Stone, equestrian associate at the Averett Equestrian Center, is developing a new course in equine sports management.
  • Jenny Wagstaff, director of counseling, will center her Averett 101 class on alcohol, drug awareness and counseling. The goal is to train students to be peer mentors around those subjects. As a result, students will be able to hold classes in the dorms.