Having incorporated it into their curriculum for an entire semester, both instructors speak very highly of the service-learning component of the class.
Both Cunningham and Saez teach office procedures and administration, and both of their classes are involved in service-learning projects in which they will be planning seminars for local high school students and the community.
Cunningham’s class is developing a seminar called “Your Future — It’s in the Clouds” to be held on April 21.
“The theme of the seminar is cloud computing and how it will affect the future hiring processes,” stated Cunningham.
“Cloud computing would be things like social media, Facebook, Twitter, the programs that work from the Web. These are all going to affect the hiring processes, how we post resumes, how employers look at us. For example, are they going to look at our Facebook pages? Are they going to go on Twitter to see what we are tweeting about? Do we need to be aware of those types of things?”
The target audience for Cunningham’s seminar is high school students in business classes. Students are coming from Bradley Central, Polk County, Walker Valley and Chattanooga Central high schools.
Cunningham divided the class into five committees — program, door prize, budget, records, and registration. Each committee is responsible for various tasks throughout the semester, depending on the role they play in preparation for the seminar.
One of the main topics for the office procedures administration course is event planning. Instead of reading a chapter and answering questions on event planning, the students get to plan an actual event.
There is a section on written communication and writing business letters. Instead of writing a fictional business letter, Cunningham requires the students to write letters to businesses in CSCC’s five-county service area requesting door prizes and once they receive the door prizes, they are required to write thank you letters.
“My students have really gained a lot from this and the feedback that I get from CSCC students is that they feel like they learned a lot more from the course by it being more ‘hands-on,’ by actually doing something that is real, rather than just a case study. They are really grasping the skills and concepts they are learning, but helping others at the same time.”
According to Cunningham, the greatest benefit to the service-learning projects is the teamwork component because it teaches the students how to work well with others.
“That is the one thing that students are most resistant to. When you say ‘group project,’ many students do not want to work with anyone else, but in the real world, we all have to work with other people in one way or another, and this helps to prepare the students for the real world.”
Cunningham has incorporated service-learning into her classes prior to this semester, but said it is a perfect fit for this course because it is a good way for students to practice what they are learning.
Service-learning student Leigh Jobe, said, “I love the service-learning part of this class. I feel like you learn so much more this way because it is so hands-on. Everyone learns differently, but with this, it’s really the best of both worlds. You are learning, but you are also giving back to your community. What a great thing to be part of a college that supports service-learning and giving back! I feel like we are getting just as much out of this as those who will be attending the seminar.”
Cunningham said, “I feel like you can find some sort of fit for service-learning in most classes. It just has to have a component that facilitates service-learning, though. It’s a learning pedagogy; it is not the same as community service.”
Unlike Cunningham’s seminar, Saez’s is open to the community. It is called “Jump Start Your Life” and will be held Wednesday from 5 to 6:30 p.m. in the auditorium in the George R. Johnson Cultural Heritage Center.
“My students have been working all semester on this as a part of the service-learning component of the class,” stated Saez. “It is going to be on employee development. In addition to CSCC students, we are hoping to have some unemployed members of the community attend, so maybe this event will boost their self-esteem so they will go out and try some job hunting, as well as networking.”
Saez said there will be human resources representatives from local businesses participating in the seminar. Mike Painter with Life Care Centers of America, Megan Casteel with Receivia, Shandra Abel with Check Into Cash, and Darlene Porter with Ranstaad will be participating in a panel discussion and answering questions about employee development.
Roger Leiviska is the guest speaker for the seminar. Leiviska is an accomplished speaker and life coach who helps guide professionals, entrepreneurs and small business owners to enjoy professional success and fulfilling personal lives. He works with individuals in relationship, career and life transitions who are ready to discover what they really want.
Leiviska began his Air Force career in 1988 and is credited with a wide-ranging list of accomplishments including two Outstanding Achievements Awards with Valor. His service in the Air National Guard resulted in three Southwest Asia Service Medals, a Kuwait Liberation Medal, and a Humanitarian Service Award.
A native of Port Washington, Wis., he now resides in Chattanooga and is currently enjoying his eighth year as a sales consultant for Loreal/Centric.
Saez said, “There are still assignments from the book, but this is definitely the majority of their grade. I could tell at first they were a little overwhelmed, but as the semester went on, they saw how the seminar was really coming together and now, they are really excited to pull it off! This has been a really great group of students to work with.”
Saez added, “This is my first time doing something this big with service-learning. I think the ongoing battle is trying to get the students to understand the importance of it. I also think that every faculty member should experience it at least once.”
For more information on the Cleveland State Service-Learning Program, visit the website at www.clevelandstatecc.edu/service_learning/ or contact Susan Webb-Curtis at 423-472-7141, ext. 718, or 1-800-604-CSCC, ext. 718. To find out more information about the Jump Start Your Life seminar, contact Megen Saez at 423-472-7141, ext. 329.