Service Learning Projects at School
Nah Tah Wahsh Public School Academy is a small K-12 school, serving 165 students on the Hannahville Potawatomi Reservation in Michigan.
Its students have been serving in their community as part of their classroom studies for 15 years. The school has been associated with the National Indian Youth Leadership Project whose motto is ìLeadership Through Service.
The Learn and Serve project has been very effective in helping our students develop a sense of responsibility for developing all the behaviors associated with their culture.
These behaviors, called the Seven Grandfathers, include respect, truth, honesty, patience, humility, bravery, and love.
Service Learning has helped students learn in very tangible ways, including improved scores on the Michigan Educational Assessment Program tests.
When students are working on Service Learning projects, there are no behavior problems and attendance improves.
Through these positive results, Service Learning projects have given the school an improved status with the Hannahville Indian Community and the greater community. Successful projects also help generate positive publicity for Service Learning.
Students and staff take great pride in what they have accomplished, especially with feedback from the community. As the result of a community survey, all projects are based on community needs.
First Grade’s Gift in a Jar Project
I came up with the idea of having my students put together Gifts in a Jar. I heard of a need for money for pediatric patients at Saint Francis Hospital. My 1st grade students were able to put together over 200 Gifts in a Jar to sell.
We created a factory where the students had to sign a contract and earn wages for their work. The students were responsible for everything from cutting the ribbon, tracing circles on fabric to be cut out to decorate the jars, putting all of the dry ingredients into the jars, putting recipe tags on the jars, collecting orders for jars, selling the jars in a school store and at the hospital. We earned $835 for the pediatric patients at the hospital.
We were able to purchase a 32” flat screen television, a Wii game system, an extra Wii remote, a charging station for the remotes and gave the remainder money to them to purchase a new cart to put the television and game system onto. I was able to get Walmart to donate $75 towards a few games for the Wii system.
We were able to deliver our purchases to the hospital and went to Drifters for our celebration lunch. I feel that my students really benefited from this project. They learned many things, everything from measuring spoons to the proud feeling they got from the completion of their project. I would do this project again and I would probably start earlier and have my students make even more jars to sell.
First Grade Teacher
Service Learning at Nah Tah Wahsh extends beyond the school and its immediate community. High school and middle school students produce a half-hour radio show at the school and have it broadcasted on a local (off reservation) radio station.
The show’s focus is to help build understanding between the Indian community and the general public through Native music, interviews, national Native American news, community news, and school news.
Mosaic Wall in the Math Room
One of the projects is the mosaic wall, which took three years to complete. The wall is located in the high school math classroom. It depicts math and science activities at the school, as well as Potawatomi and other tribal culture.
This effort is funded in part by a grant from Toyota and was also done in cooperation with the gifted and talented program.
This activity helps preserve a longtime Native tradition. The syrup is given to tribal elders and school visitors.
Clear Lake is an outdoor math and science activity. Students are exposed to how math is used in all the sciences.