Fairfax County Public Schools has made a commitment to service learning throughout the district.
In response to their goal that students would better understand their responsibility to their community, students throughout the district are expected to “demonstrate their knowledge of exemplary citizenship and transfer that knowledge to their future communities…[and]… be informed participants in the democratic process who understand and respect different cultures and positively engage in the community.”
In fact, Fairfax County School District has a portion of their website dedicated to Service Learning, including pages on: the elements of and opportunities for service learning, tips and FAQs.
West Potomac High School took a comprehensive and integrated approach to meeting the district wide service learning standards. They created an interdisciplinary program to highlight the difference between community service (giving service hours) and service learning where students had the opportunity to self select a project that was meaningful to them.
Students researched issues, contacted organizational partners, conducted service hours, kept activity logs, and presented final projects about their experiences.In the 2008-09 school year, almost 85% of the West Potomac students fully completed their service learning projects. The vast majority of the seniors found the project to be a valuable experience. Of the 430 members of the 2009 graduating class, 97 earned Virginia’s Civic Seal.
The schoolwide service learning initiative is credited with changing the culture of the school, making it a more positive and respectful environment.
Numerous community members and parents praised the program and appreciated the energy, creativity, and capabilities of West Potomac students. This is the type of long-lasting, meaningful education that can change a community from the ground up.
For additional examples of service learning in Fairfax County Public Schools, read the Service Learning Success Stories found on their website.