MTSU’s Experiential Learning Program has honored a group of community partners for their support in providing students with practical, hands-on experiences that allow them to put their knowledge to work.
The Outstanding EXL Community Partner Award recognizes organizations that welcome MTSU EXL students and provide them with hands-on opportunities for service learning via internships, special projects and even jobs that benefit both the students and the organization.
Outstanding Community Partner Award winners for the 2014-15 academic year are: Nancy Bogle, cafeteria manager at Barfield Elementary School in Rutherford County Schools; David Adams and Mike Rhoades, rangers at Stones River National Battlefield in Murfreesboro; Lisa Mitchell, Debbie Mankin and Amy Swartz with literacy nonprofit Read to Succeed; and Yvonne Dadson, clinical dietitian and certified diabetes educator at Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital.
Now in its ninth year, the EXL program at MTSU is designed to enhance student learning through practical experiences in their fields of study beyond the traditional classroom and to engage the student directly in service. More than 200 courses are now approved as EXL courses universitywide.
In addition to taking EXL courses, students can sign up to be EXL Scholars, which requires them to complete assessment activities, including an e-portfolio, and perform an MTSU service component to receive the designation as an EXL scholar upon graduation.
Here’s more about this year’s Outstanding EXL Community Partner Award winners:
Nancy Bogle, Barfield Elementary School
In nominating Bogle for the award, Dr. Lisa Sheehan-Smith, a professor in the MTSU Nutrition and Food Sciences Program, noted that Bogle has served as a preceptor for two upper-level program courses for several years.
“Each semester she provides students a very beneficial and enjoyable learning experience in the cafeteria at Barfield Elementary School,” said Sheehan-Smith, who also noted Bogle’s willingness to accept extra students at a moment’s notice. “The students comment about her interest in them and her desire to make sure they achieve their learning objectives while enjoying the school nutrition experience.”
Said Bogle: “I really enjoy the MTSU students and my staff is always willing to help. We learn as much from the students as they learn from us.”
Barfield principal Judy Goodwin called Bogle “a conscientious staff member (who) leads her team with great humility. She is certainly deserving of this wonderful award.”
David Adams and Mike Rhoades, Stones River National Battlefield
In nominating Adams, biology professor Dr. Kim Sadler noted that he has worked with MTSU EXL classes for the past three years and has coordinated, supervised and managed the ecological restoration work at Stones River of Sadler’s Biology 1030 EXL classes.
“Although management of the parks resources is a component of his job, taking the time to patiently educate and train the more than 450 students that have participated in work at the park is not,” Sadler said.
“He makes the work fun and engages the students in conversations about conservation and the environment. I know this not only because I have observed this firsthand, but because students consistently journal about their experiences about working with him.”
Sadler said Adams has been willing to accommodate workdays around the MTSU schedule and has visited her classes to talk with students before work events, all with the support of Park Superintendent Gayle Hazelwood.
Adams asked that the award be shared with his co-worker, Mike Rhoades, who “has been instrumental in the success of the partnership. I don’t feel I could have done it without his help,” Adams said.
Lisa Mitchell, Debbie Mankin and Amy Swartz, Read to Succeed
MTSU psychology professors Drs. Catherine Crooks and Stuart Bernstein nominated the Read to Succeed literacy program, which they have incorporated into the upper division psychology classes since spring 2012.
Staff members honored included Read to Succeed Executive Director Lisa Mitchell, Debbie Mankin, adult literacy coordinator, and Amy Swartz, family literacy coordinator.
Crooks said his students developed and implemented a health literacy needs assessment in the community in order to determine what health literacy interventions were needed for providers and community members.
“Since that time, we have successfully implemented a health literacy service learning partnership with Read to Succeed every semester,” Crooks added. “They are very supportive of our work and love to work with our students. Many of our students have also gone through their training to become adult reading tutors.
“They are not only supportive partners; they are mentors for our students and for us. With their guidance, we have developed a very successful and sustaining community service project and have received external funding for our programs.”
Dr. Terri Tharp, an associate professor in the Department of Elementary and Special Education, also partners with Read to Succeed in her courses, where MTSU students plan and implement a Family Literacy Night Program in collaboration with Read to Succeed to furnish support in the areas of literacy education and family involvement.
“It is the faculty members’ hope that by completing this service-learning project in local schools that the teacher candidates will begin to see that they have a responsibility to serve and give back to their community and will also be a part of planning Family Literacy Nights once they enter the teaching profession,” Tharp said.
Yvonne Dadson, Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital
Ginny Bogle, an instructor in the Department of Human Sciences, called Dadson “an outstanding preceptor” for her work instructing two of the program’s EXL courses. Dadson is a clinical dietitian and certified diabetes educator at Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital in Murfreesboro.
Said Bogle: “For many years she served as an on-site preceptor at Saint Thomas Rutherford for our clinical rotations during NFS 4300 Dietetic Practicum course. In this role she allowed our students to follow her daily for a week learning all the various responsibilities that a clinical dietitian has.
“Without her support for our program and EXL courses, our students would be missing valuable interactions that help prepared them for post-baccalaureate dietetic internships.”
— Jimmy Hart (firstname.lastname@example.org)