CSU, Chico News

Special Education Teacher Preparation Program Wins National Award for Service-Learning

Date: 02-17-2009

Kathleen McPartland
Public Affairs
Terri Davis
Department of Professional Studies

The California State University, Chico, Special Education Teacher Preparation Program was selected to receive the 2009 State Farm® Award for Service-Learning Excellence in Teacher Education. Service-learning is a teaching method that engages students in solving problems within their schools and communities as part of their academic studies.

“Service-learning helps students’ master important curricular content by making meaningful connections between what they study in the classroom and its many applications in the real world,” said State Farm Insurance Companies senior director of education leadership, Kathy Havens Payne. “Teaching teachers how to use service-learning as a strategy to reach their students brings learning to life and helps young people become ready for the real world, as engaged learners, active citizens and active members of our 21st century workforce.”

State Farm selected CSU, Chico for demonstrating significant support for service-learning and for providing its students with exemplary opportunities to learn and practice the skills necessary to implement service-learning in their own classrooms, said Payne.

“At CSU, Chico, service-learning is an important part of our special education teacher preparation programs as well as other credentialing programs in the School of Education,” said Terri Davis, chair of the Department of Professional Studies in Education. “The program’s faculty engages the teacher candidates in service-learning activities, while providing candidates with systematic and explicit instruction in service-learning as a teaching strategy.”

Special education faculty include Davis, one of only 10 national finalists for the Thomas Ehrlich Faculty Award for Service-Learning in 2002; Michelle Cepello, EdD, director of the Special Education Program; and Laurel Hill-Ward, MA, Special Education, coordinator of the Concurrent Education Specialist/Multiple Subject Program.

These three faculty members have implemented service-learning pedagogy for over 12 years. They have made numerous national and international presentations and conducted research projects that provide data regarding the effectiveness of service-learning as a teaching strategy in K-12 and higher education.

Davis supplied this written comment from one teacher candidate about her experience in service learning: “Lessons are made valuable and worth learning when students can share their knowledge and work with others who benefit from that service. Children with special needs find a place within their community which can be unique to the student or expanded to the greater world; self esteem and value are increased.”

The award will be presented to Davis, Cepello and Hill-Ward at the 20th Annual National Service-Learning Conference in Nashville, Tenn. on March 20 at an awards ceremony that honors all 2009 State Farm Service-Learning Awardees.

The special education programs at CSU, Chico are part of a campuswide commitment to service learning. The University is an active member of Campus Compact, a national coalition of nearly 1,200 college and university presidents dedicated to promoting community service, civic engagement and service-learning in higher education.

The State Farm® Award for Service-Learning Excellence in Teacher is administered by the National Service-Learning Partnership at the Academy for Educational Development (a grassroots network of more than 12,000 members form all 50 states and U.S. territories), in partnership with the International Center for Service-Learning in Teacher Education.