The College of Education and Integrative Studies is a learning community focused on meeting the present and future needs of students in our communities. We educate students to become highly qualified and significant leaders in our society. We are committed to the principles of diversity, ethics and social justice, and life-long learning. Central to our mission are innovative and integrative thinking, reflective practice, collaborative action, and learning by doing.
Student's Service Learning Project Creates Positive Change at School Site
Cal Poly Pomona’s “learn by doing” philosophy is taken very seriously in the College of Education and Integrative Studies. Each quarter, hundreds of students’ complete service learning projects that benefit the communities and areas that they work in. In Professor Ruth Purpero’s class, TED 591, Mr. Jimmy Fernandez created an exceptional service-learning project that benefited his school site, Hillsides Education Center in Pasadena, CA. Hillsides Education Center is a non-profit organization, non-public school for children with behavioral challenges. Most of the students have learning disabilities and emotional disturbance. The school has a population of about 80 to 100 students at any given time.
Jimmy has worked at Hillsides for 10 years. He reflected on his working at Hillsides, noting, “Through my time at Hillsides, I have implemented many successful behavioral interventions as well as creative ways to accommodate and modify academic curriculum to enable students to engage in our program. We provide speech, counseling, and behavioral interventions as provided in their IEP (Individualized Educational program). I work with students who benefit from an individualized program because traditional classrooms settings have too much noise activity and other external distracters.” Hillsides only resource for measuring student success was through student IEPs, which only followed the academic side of student success. He noticed that the students at Hillside were also making great strides in coping with their behavior challenges, but the teachers did not have adequate way to show student progress.
This problem was his inspiration for his service-learning project for Professor Purpero’s class. Jimmy said, “The program, named ‘GROWTH’, is designed to measure progress in students in more ways than the traditional IEP. Through GROWTH, teachers are able to measure student progress in personal awareness, social awareness, tenacity and problem solving. This new form of measurement can demonstrate how each student is progressing in some way. For example, if a student struggles with staying in class for 10 minutes before having a tantrum, and within two months of being at Hillsides that student can now stay in class for 20 minutes, that is an achievement for the student that cannot be managed through the traditional IEP. GROWTH is a school wide system that all teachers, parents, community members, and students can associate with. GROWTH is a five-step system, where at the completion of each step, the students are given a reward or incentive to mark their accomplishment. In the final step in the GROWTH program, students become mentors to other students who are not as far along in the five-step system.
Students have responded positively to GROWTH, indicating that it gives them a sense of self-worth and accomplishment as they complete each step of the program. While Jimmy’s service-learning project has ended for Professor Purpero’s class, his GROWTH program remains in place at Hillsides. Administrators and teachers at Hillsides are pleased that GROWTH has created a standard of consistency of what terminology to use and how to monitor the growth of every student.