English professor Chris Fee, who is also the Johnson Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Humanities endowed by Ed '51 and Cindy ‘52 Johnson, had the opportunity to develop a course on rural poverty and its impact on education, literacy, and immigration. He hoped to include in the course a service-learning component, though he wasn't exactly certain what that element would be.
This past summer, as Fee was planning his course, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania encountered difficulties in passing its budget and dropped funding of a program called Gen 10, which was the sole provider of afterschool care at Biglerville Elementary School. Local residents were stunned. But Fee, who serves as an elected member of the Upper Adams School District Board of Directors in Biglerville, saw an immediate opportunity to involve students in his new course on rural poverty. The only problem was that Fee's course was to offered in the spring, and Biglerville needed help in the autumn.
Fee contacted Gretchen Natter, director of the college's Center for Public Service, and along with students Kathleen Clay ‘11 and Kerilyn Foley ‘10, they met with Biglerville Elementary School Principal Kathy Ciolino to discuss creative ways to meet the needs of the community. The end result was that Natter and Fee, with the help of Gettysburg College Dean of Students Julie Ramsey, were able to provide limited financial support to transport student volunteers to and from the elementary school as well as provide a healthy snack after school for the children.
Within two weeks Angela Collier '10, working as a student coordinator, had recruited and trained a group of volunteer college students and organized them to travel to the elementary school two afternoons a week and provide a safe place for homework and activities.
"We have students who can take an idea and own it and make it work," Fee said in response to Collier's efforts.
The program will continue as a part of Fee's newly designed class on rural poverty, to be offered spring semester.Posted: Fri, 4 Dec 2009
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