Karen was nominated for her effort and dedication to the students in her community through multiple service initiatives. One notable project was the facilitation and implementation of the national “service learning” model at Williamson County Juvenile Center. Although service-learning has many definitions and established quality standards, service-learning experiences share five major attributes:
- Students have a strong voice in determining the actions they want to take and in implementing their plans.
- Service-learning is aligned with the curriculum.
- Students partner with others to take action.
- Students reflect on their experiences in multiple ways before, during, and after performing the service.
- Service-learning is of sufficient duration to allow students to meet community needs and also achieve learning objectives.
Regarding the effect of the service learning model on herself as an instructor, Karen says, “Service learning has changed my life more than I could have ever expected! So much is said about the students’ lives being changed, but I think my life has been changed even more. Each time I see a student get excited about a project, feel great about themselves and become more engaged in school – how can that not have a profound effect on me? Each time a student is changed it changes me a little too, and so I have hundreds of life changes each year. The mutual respect that my students and I gain from our projects is one of the greatest honors I could ever receive. To be a part of the incredible collaborative efforts of our school district, our community, our churches and our businesses for our student’s projects has made me so proud to live in Georgetown, Texas. I have the best job in the world!”
Karen has also facilitated the launch of a program within Georgetown ISD called THE LOCKER (formerly Eagle Locker). Supervised by GISD, this special program was created and is maintained by student-athletes as a means of serving their fellow students who are in need. Purchased items are kept in a secure space and are discreetly available, free of charge, to students in need. THE LOCKER is now available on seven GISD campuses.