Images flood my mind as I journey into memories of Juarez, emotions well up in my throat. Instead of sitting at my desk working feverishly on my marking, I am back in the heart of Juarez, Mexico. Sweat dripping off me as I fill hundreds of bags of beans in the sweltering heat for food boxes which will be delivered to the locals. Volunteering my time and efforts to make a difference in someone's life; I never knew that difference was going to be in my life.
Volunteering and Community Service are my passion. I believe they create and instill a sense of compassion and empathy for others, values I embody in my life and teaching. My passion for volunteering is a the heart of my job at John Paul II. Community Service is worked into the Christian Ethic classes, a component which has the potential to be a meaningful, a real life experience for our students.
I am the facilitator for my student's on their educational journey, I do not know their “destination” however, it is my job to help my students use the Community Service component foster compassion and empathy for others. It is not for me to decide where a student will perform their service work, that lays in the hands of my students, what does lay in my hands is the process I chose to facilitate the program, to meet their needs and make their Community Service journey come alive.
I am not going to fight with students. A resounding statement that was delivered to me by my colleagues. A turning point; disappointment and frustration were at the forefront of my feelings. My passion was not shared by some of my colleagues. When did education become about arguing and struggling with students to achieve the desired outcome? This question still plagues my thoughts.
John Paul II High School Christian Ethics classes have a Community Service component. This component is comprised of completing 10 hours of service outside of class time with a weight of 20% of their final grade. The organization and implementation is the responsibility of the school Chaplain. My duties as the Chaplain are to support the students with completion of Community Service and to provide support to the classroom teachers. It is my belief to always give the students the benefit of doubt concerning their service work. However, at the same time I do not want to undermine the teacher's position and professionalism. This has lead to many meetings with the department of Christian Ethics in my school along with the administration. The final meeting regarding Community Service resulted in frustration and apathy on part of certain teachers who felt like there was no support or purpose of Community Service in our school.
The issues that...