By: Brandon Moffitt, MA, LPC
With the holiday season firmly behind us, and a new year of possibility ahead, all of us at Black Mountain Academy have recently spent time reflecting upon how we are contributing as citizens in both our local and global communities. In an effort to embody our core value of citizenship, service learning is built into the weekly routine in which faculty, staff, and students participate.
At Black Mountain Academy, we define service learning as an educational experience based upon a collaborative partnership between our school and the community in which we live, pay, and grow. Learning through service enables our students to apply academic knowledge and critical thinking skills to meet genuine community needs. Through reflection and assessment, students gain deeper understanding of course content and the importance of civic engagement.
Each week, staff and students participate in service partnerships within the greater community. Beyond the benefit of examining the perspective of others, students have the opportunity to reflect on career options, build new social connections, and contribute to the world at large. What we continue to find is that our students love these experiences and often ask to go back or work longer at service sites.
Service also becomes a way for us to expose our students to new environments where they learn about themselves and develop greater empathy for others. That exposure has the added benefit of expanding one’s interests and relationship skills. Additionally, staff work collaboratively with students to develop a greater work ethic, attention to detail, and executive function skills. In the end, our weekly service learning trips enrich their social life, personal growth as well as their education.
Our students are proud of their work at MANNA Food Bank, Brother Wolf Animal Shelter, The Salvation Army, Becki’s Bounty, and the Black Mountain Greenways. This year we look forward to working closely with our local VA Hospital, The Western North Carolina Nature Center, and Givens Estate Retirement Community.
Here’s to a happy and safe new year from all of us at Black Mountain Academy. May 2017 be filled with opportunities to build relationships, give back to our community, and learn more about the world in which we live!