The term “service learning” is more than an educational buzzword at Notre Dame Academy, it’s a learning strategy that works. These hands-on projects teach students about the practical as well as the intellectual aspects of their curriculum and challenge the students to put their learning into action. Service learning is teaching students in Molly Proudfit’s AP biology classes at Notre Dame Academy how to use what they have learned in the classroom to deal with real-life problems such as HIV/AIDS.
Representatives from Caracole recently spoke to the AP biology students. Caracole is a local non-profit organization that provides safe and affordable housing and support services for individuals and families living with HIV/AIDS. The speakers explained the various ways they help and support people who have tested positive for HIV/AIDS and live in the area.
Former NDA student, Maria Chal, also spoke to the students as part of this service learning project. Chal recently spent a year at Notre Dame in Uganda and shared her service experience with the students. Chal spoke on the global HIV/AIDS crisis, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Now that the students understand the HIV/AIDS crisis locally and globally, they are faced with the decision of what to do for the service portion of their project and if they want to act locally or work with the Ugandan school. “I really want my students to understand how this virus affects all populations, both locally and those at the school in Uganda, so I feel that both arms of the project are necessary,” said Proudfit.
According to NDA’s principal, Dr. Laura Koehl, teachers will continue to introduce service learning into their curriculum. “Utilizing service learning opportunities to enhance teaching and learning gives our students valuable perspective on important contemporary topics,” says Koehl. She adds, “Service Learning is also an excellent way to further our mission at NDA to educate young women to make a difference in the world.”