Bates receives substantial grant for Longley Elementary partnership project

The Bates College Center for Service-Learning has received an $89,000 grant from the National Corporation for Public Service for a partnership project with the city’s Governor Longley Elementary School.

Coordinated by former Farwell School principal Sue Martin who now works in the Bates Center for Service-Learning, the project involves on-campus science activities for 34 Longley fifth and sixth graders who will be taught by members of the Bates faculty Wednesday, Oct. 21, an ongoing mentoring program between Bates and Longley students, placement of practicum teaching students from Bates, assistance in establishing a Parent-Teacher Organization for the Longley School and development of an after-school theater program taught by Bates students.

Jessica Taisey, a Bates senior from Freeport who received a Howard Hughes Medical Foundation grant to study gender equity in the sciences among elementary-age students, is coordinating the service-learning project that will bring Longley students to Bates for hands-on laboratory activities on Oct. 21. Members of the Bates faculty who will teach the labs include John Kelsey, professor of psychology; Kathryn Low, associate professor of psychology; Joseph Pelliccia, associate professor of biology; and John Smedley, associate professor of physics.

Awarded by the National Corporation for Public Service, funding for the Bates-Longley School project comes from the University of Pennsylvania’s West Philadelphia Improvement Corps Replication Project.

The Bates College Center for Service-learning goes one step beyond encouraging traditional volunteerism by incorporating community service into academic course work. In its third year, the Center for Service-Learning has assisted hundreds of Bates College students and professors form tight bonds within the local community. More than half of the student body at Bates has engaged in a service-learning project, while a third of the faculty has included a service component in their courses.

Recent projects have included an investigation by geology and environmental studies students to determine how proposed construction of a new cross-town connecting road would impact the 300-acre Garcelon Bog in the proposed road’s path. One Bates intern for the area Chamber of Commerce helped put together a proposal that convinced Forum Francophone des Affairs Forum, a group that promotes trade between French-speaking countries and the United States, to locate its U.S. headquarters in Lewiston. A second Bates intern at the chamber provided technical assistance for a multimedia presentation to the organization, while yet a third student worked on the project as part of an independent study. Such endeavors save the city vast expenditures in resources.

Projects can be local in scope, such as a commitment to the Read America challenge, or international, where a group of geology majors, under the direction of a Bates geology professor, examined the contamination from smelting activities in the Zimapan Valley, Mexico. Service-learning is a partnership among students, faculty and community agencies, where all parties serve, learn and teach.

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