Returning Tehachapi Unified School District teacher Rachel Stanley is leading an elective class focused on community service.
The JMS one-semester course is designed to have students define and discuss the meaning and purpose of service, introduce students to service related organizations, guide them in finding out how to serve, and help to put their service into action.
"Research has shown that community service develops responsibility in students and creates an environment of collaboration and cooperation," said JMS Principal Paul Kaminski. "Assuming responsibility and being more willing to work collaboratively and cooperatively with others leads to improved school behavior.
Kaminski also said students quickly discover that by helping others, they in turn are helping themselves as well.
"Serving others feeds the soul," he said. "We are fortunate to have Mrs. Stanley return to the district to lead this class, and we are hoping to expand on it in the future."
Each week students will be given a "service challenge task" to complete during the week. Even small things like opening doors for people or letting someone in front of you in a lunch line can make a difference.
Throughout the semester, students will also enjoy guest speakers from various organizations such as Marley's Mutts and Former Mayor Ed Grimes explaining what local service organizations do and how students can contribute. Students will then work on mini projects to benefit these organizations.
This will help students realize the causes they feel passionate about.
Some projects may include helping collect coats for the Salvation Army, making blankets for Project Linus and washing windows.
In addition, students will be responsible for selecting one individual and one group semester service project that they will plan and participate in throughout the semester. Students will keep a progress log of time spent on the project, take pictures and present a thorough report the last week of the semester.
Recently Monica Nadon spoke to students about volunteer needs at the Tehachapi Community Theater and Bellezza Squillah from G.A.T.E (Guardians around the earth) spoke to students about becoming more educated consumers, thus having less impact on the environment.
Students also had Michele Willis from Project Linus speak to their class. Each year Project Linus collects hundreds of blankets to give to children in the community.
"Our class made a handmade quilt for the project in addition to collecting homemade blankets from staff and students," Stanley said. "The goal is for students to grow in their compassion for others and hopefully discover the rewarding fulfillment that comes with helping others."
She also said she concured with Margaret Mead's quote, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
If there are any service organizations in the community that would like to be a part of this class, please call JMS at 822-2150 and leave a message for Mrs. Stanley.