Delgado A-Z: Service Learning

 By: Tyler Scheuerman
Over the years, Delgado has become known for its unique programs and innovative teaching methods. One of the College’s newest programs, Service Learning, is quickly making its presence known around the College and the community.

Service Learning is a unique teaching method that connects the classroom to the community through service projects and innovative instruction. The program links students to hands-on learning and real world experiences, all while earning a grade.

Through community partnerships, administrators and instructors develop projects that often closely coincide with the classroom. Here are a few examples of recent student projects:

-    Horticulture students assisted local schools in landscaping their campuses, as well as Habitat for Humanity projects. Students also worked on plants that would eventually aid coastal restoration.
-    Mass Communication students and “D-TV” (Delgado Television) worked with a local elementary school to produce several instructional films on how to be prepared in case of emergencies.
-    Nursing students offered health screenings and hosted health fairs at local clinics and schools.
-    Math students tutored other peers in developmental courses.
-    Culinary arts students baked and delivered gingerbread houses to a children’s hospital during the holiday season.
-    Business classes helped a local non-profit radio station develop its marketing plan.
-    Music classes organized and performed concerts at local nursing homes and community centers.
-    Administrative office technology’s Legal Office classes organized a stuffed animal drive for NOPD officers to use to comfort children affected by crimes or accidents.

According to Warren Puneky, Dean of Business and Technology, the program’s growth is a testament to a dedicated group of energetic faculty, a supportive administration, excellent students, and willing community partners. Grants have aided the program’s continued growth, used in training faculty, gathering resources, hosting Service Learning conferences, and supplies for the varied projects.

Service Learning’s numbers speak for themselves. Eighty faculty members from across the College have implemented the program in 215 classes to involve 2,825 students since 2006. Those students have logged 33,403 hours of service and instructors have contributed 5,088 hours to the projects. In the past academic year, 58 community agencies have partnered with Delgado through course-based programs while the groups have generated $758,227 in volunteer hours over the last six years.

According to Puneky, Service Learning works so well for several reasons. “Delgado is the community college for the New Orleans and metropolitan region and included in its mission is the development of students as productive and responsible citizens. Delgado students are a part of the fabric of this community,” he said. Puneky also believes that because students plan to remain in the area following graduation, they feel a stronger commitment to serving the region.

If you have an idea for a potential service learning project, or would like to become involved, contact one of the program’s coordinators:
    Warren Puneky        wpunek@dcc.edu
    Angela Lorenzo        aloren@dcc.edu
    Matthew Sweeney    msween@dcc.edu

While still growing and continually expanding, Service Learning is off to a great start. The program is giving something back, and literally putting the community into Delgado Community College.

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