Service-learning integrates community service with curriculum. Several research studies associate student engagement through service-learning with positive outcomes in five areas: attitude toward self, attitude toward school and learning, civic engagement, social skills, and academic achievement (Celio, Durlak & Dymnicki, 2011). Service-learning will directly tie to content standards and will include a period of reflection or analysis of the activities in which students discuss, write about, or create presentations about what they have learned and what impact their service has made on the community.
Students at Breakthrough will complete 2-4 content-embedded service learning projects each year and will have protected time in the school’s weekly schedule to do so. The scope of the service learning will vary based upon the grade level of students. Service-learning will begin in the classroom for students in grades K-2, will then focus on service projects for the school in grades 3-5, and will then extend to the larger community for students in grades 6-8. Students in grades 9-12 will have the opportunity to practice service-learning across Perry County and in neighboring Black Belt counties. Students will also have the opportunity to learn more about the local context, better understanding the racial and socioeconomic dynamics that exist in Alabama’s Black Belt.
Breakthrough will partner with community stakeholders to identify possible service-learning opportunities. Stakeholders that have already committed their support include Main Street Marion and Marion Military Institute. The practice of engaging students using such a hands-on, unique learning approach aligns with our core values of Leadership and Community and directly supports the project-based learning foundation of our academic program.
Foreign Language Infusion
A 2017 Census survey estimated that over 40 million Americans speak Spanish and that the number of people in the workforce that speak two languages will continue to rise in the coming years. Beginning foreign language infusion at an early age has proven to help students improve problem-solving and creativity. Additionally, being bilingual has been proven to enhance future career opportunities (Rafferty, E.A., 1986). Consistent student exposure to Spanish at Breakthrough will improve academic performance, build language fluency, and teach students to connect with other cultures. Connecting students through learning about other cultures cultivates empathy, which will directly tie into social emotional learning and mindfulness practices we plan to embody as part of our school culture.
Spanish infusion also aligns with our core values of scholarship and Diversity. Breakthrough’s schedule again allows for protected instructional time during which students will learn Spanish. Additionally, high school students at Breakthrough will be required to successfully complete at least two Spanish courses with an emphasis on speaking, listening, reading, and writing.
Breakthrough will partner with Spanish professors at Judson College and Marion Military Institute to ensure students are learning age-appropriate Spanish materials. Dr. Larissa Clachar heads the Spanish Department at Judson College and serves on Breakthrough’s founding board.