Mississippi College

Service Learning Classes Boost Opportunities for Mississippi College Students

August 22, 2013

Service learning classes at Mississippi College this fall will expand opportunities for students to help others in need in metro Jackson.

Professors in English, business, social work, history, modern languages, physician assistant studies and other fields will teach the first wave of eight new classes. About 125 MC students are expected to enroll.

The classes “provide a new opportunity for Mississippi College to fulfill its mission to integrate faith and learning as students complete community service projects as part of the course requirements,” says English professor Kristi Richard Melancon.

The professors received 10 weeks of professional development training in the spring to prepare them to lead the classes at the Baptist-affiliated university.

“Service learning is a great way for students to get experience working alongside an organization, agency or group involved in real time community improvement,” says Flowood Center director Sara Kimmel. “Service learning ties the objectives of the class material to hands-on engagement with those in the field.”

A business professor, Kimmel and Melancon, a Clinton resident, will be part of the team of service learning instructors at the Christian university.

Mississippi College is one of many universities across the USA committed to service learning programs. Tulane, Duke, Brown, Stanford, Purdue, Alabama, Michigan State, Belmont, Louisiana State University and the University of Michigan are among others on a long list.

Community service projects have been a big part of the fabric of life on the Clinton campus for decades.

There were 2,400 faculty, staff and students at Mississippi College investing more than 45,000 hours of community service to assist 153 different agencies two years ago. That number grew to 52,000 hours last year, new reports show. There were 2,100 MC students in the group of community service workers, according to Eric Pratt, vice president for Christian Development.

One of the most popular programs remains the Think Together Discovery Center. In its seventh year, it’s the tutoring center at a Clinton apartment complex serving disadvantaged children. About 153 Mississippi people serve as volunteer tutors, from undergraduates to Rhoda Royce, wife of Mississippi College President Lee Royce. The center last year served 42 Clinton children, from ages 5 through 17.

Last April, Mississippi College hosted the Hunter Oaks Olympics, an event celebrating the semester-long service learning partnership between Kristi Melancon’s English 102 class and the tutoring center at the apartment complex off U.S. 80.

With the help of the Office of Christian Development, the Community Service Center and English Department, Melancon and her students transported 13 Clinton children to the university’s Quad for an afternoon of educational games and a picnic lunch. The children learned songs, worked on arts projects and ran an obstacle course.

During the spring semester, Melancon and her students spent 250 hours tutoring kids at the center located a couple of miles from the Clinton campus.

This fall, MC students taking the service learning classes will receive academic credit, just as they would for courses without service components.

For more information, contact English professor Kristi Melancon at kmelancon@mc.edu or call 601.925.3325.

Photo: MC students take part in the Hunter Oaks Olympics to provide service learning activities to assist children at a Clinton apartment complex.

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