FLORENCE – The Service Learning: Tutoring and Mentoring in Literacy Instruction Project at Francis Marion University has been selected to receive a Service Learning Award by the S.C. Commission on Higher Education (CHE) on Thursday, April 5, 2012.
This is the second time an FMU project has earned this distinction. FMU received the award in 2008 for its Advancing Rural Community Health (ARCH) Program, in which students assist rural community health providers and are directly involved in health screenings in three counties.
The Service Learning Awards presented by the CHE honor programs that extend the reach of the university into the wider community. Criteria included community impact, number of students who participate, and integration into academics. The Service Learning: Tutoring and Mentoring in Literacy Instruction Project director is Dr. Kathryn “Polly” Haselden, who is also an assistant professor in FMU’s School of Education.
“We are proud of Dr. Haselden and the School of Education for their efforts in designing and implementing this highly successful mentoring program. Of course, good mentoring skills are essential to the development of good teachers, and our faculty members have been educating some of South Carolina’s finest teachers for more than 40 years,” said FMU President Fred Carter. “This award is yet another acknowledgement of their extraordinary work.”
The project is designed to train pre-service teacher candidates enrolled in EDUC 312 (Teaching and Assessing Reading) to mentor and tutor students at the Title 1 school, Latta Early Childhood Center (LECC). Tutoring and mentoring are given to a select group of students who are repeating a grade and/or have below average scores on Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) testing in reading and/or writing. In return, teachers are able to provide mentoring services and guidance to the FMU teacher candidates, as they work to deliver appropriate literacy instruction in their respective classrooms.
"We're delighted that the CHE recognized the impact of mentoring the next generation of educators and leaders and are humbled by the recognition of this award," said Haselden. “This would not have been possible without the support of the leadership, faculty, students and administrative staff at FMU who have made the program the terrific success it is today.”
FMU teacher candidates learn various instructional strategies in EDUC 312 for remediating specific skills in reading and writing and are able to implement those strategies while delivering instruction. A major component of the service project involves keeping a reflection journal that describes each school visit, details the steps needed for the next visit, reflects on teacher collaborations during each experience, and underscores the instructional practices learned at FMU and why they were chosen for each visit. Additionally, at the end of the semester, the teacher candidates present on the overall service learning experience.
During the presentations, the teacher candidates share the instructional materials created during the experience, samples of student products, an overview of each tutoring and mentoring session, and a summative reflection. The service learning requirement serves as an opportunity for students to demonstrate the mastery of course objectives, while engaging in community service. The feedback provided by LECC teachers and FMU candidates suggests that all parties find the experience beneficial and rewarding.
FMU received the award last year for its Advancing Rural Community Health (ARCH) Program, in which students assist rural community health providers and are directly involved in health screenings in Marion, Marlboro and Williamsburg.
To further validate the program’s benefit and that of others like it, in 2001, the Commission on Higher Education undertook an initiative to publicize on a statewide scale the service learning and volunteerism efforts of the public colleges and universities in South Carolina. To this end, the Commission began holding an annual competition on service learning among the public and private institutions in the state with the stated outcome of recognizing in a public fashion those projects that best represent the integration of student learning with community service.
Dr. Kathryn Haselden is a native of Latta and has been an assistant professor in the School of Education since 2007. Previously, she spent nine years as a public school teacher in North and South Carolina and three years in higher education at James Madison University and The University of North Carolina at Pembroke. She graduated from Converse College with a B.A. and from The University of North Carolina at Charlotte with both her M.Ed. and Ph.D. Her professional interests are literacy instruction, learning disabilities, and action research. She has published and presented nationally in all areas.