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2010.06.14 > For Immediate Release
contact: Wendy Townley - University Relations
phone: 402.554.2762 - email: wtownley@unomaha.edu

Community Engagement is Focus of Weeklong Seminar for Area Educators

Omaha - A weeklong seminar, developed by the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO), will be held at the Thompson Alumni Center on the UNO campus from Monday, June 21, through Friday, June 25, for area K-12 educators, community partners, after school program faculty and faculty from UNO in the 2010 UNO Service-Learning Academy Summer Seminar.

The seminar was developed by UNO with support from Building Bright Futures and is designed to provide opportunities for area K-12 teachers (from the Omaha, Millard and Ralston school districts), UNO faculty, after school program instructors and community partners to develop service-learning projects based on national quality service-learning standards. Participants will also explore the value of service-learning projects and how to build relationships with community partners.

About 18 local K-12 faculty – representing 12 schools and five after-school programs – and 10 UNO faculty members are expected to attend the five-day workshop, which will feature a number of guest speakers and group activities dedicated to service-learning education and engagement. Ten local non-profit agencies will connect their needs with teams developed by seminar participants.

Participants will also engage in interactive sessions during the week, as indicated below. Please note: Local media are invited to attend these sessions to learn more about service learning and its impact on the metro area.

Monday, June 21, 1:30 to 4 p.m. – At City Sprouts, 40th and Seward Streets, educators will have the opportunity to serve together as their students would. The group will serve in a variety of areas including composting, weeding, planter assembly and container gardening.

Tuesday, June 22, 1 to 2:30 p.m. – A nonprofit fair at the Thompson Alumni Center, which will allow local educators to learn more about area nonprofit organizations, their needs and how students in their courses can serve community needs.

Wednesday, June 23, 1 to 2:30 p.m. – Seminar participants will tour Girls, Inc. of Omaha (2811 N. 45th St.) and learn more about UNO’s North Omaha Media Alliance (NOMA) from its coordinator, Lynnette Leonard of UNO’s School of Communication. For the past two years, the NOMA project has paired UNO communication students with students from Girls, Inc. of Omaha representing four North Omaha high schools: Benson, Central, North and Northwest. NOMA student reporters reflected on issues related to civic engagement and larger political issues facing the nation. Working in pairs with UNO communication students, the groups published their stories exclusively online, using YouTube, a blog and an online photo essay.

Thursday, June 24, 1 to 4 p.m. – Visit Omaha South High Magnet School to learn about the magnet focus and tour their facilities.

“The Service-Learning Summer Seminar provides a forum for higher education, K-12 schools, after school programs and area non-profit agencies to come together in collaboration to meet identified community needs,” said Julie Dierberger, P-16 coordinator for the UNO Service-Learning Academy. “The opportunity to engage students in learning and their communities develops individual assets that increase achievement and attendance. We are excited to provide a forum for developing these projects and the relationships that grow from the seminar. Omaha becomes a better place to live, work and grow together.”

At the conclusion of the summer seminar, participants will be charged with developing a service-learning project to be implemented within the next 18 months.

About the Service-Learning Academy
The Service-Learning Academy at UNO was established in 1999 with a grant from the Nebraska Consortium for Service-Learning in Higher Education. The office is currently supported by the Office of Academic and Student Affairs at UNO.

Service-learning offerings at UNO have grown tremendously in the academy’s history. In the 1998-99 academic year, 133 students taking seven courses participated in service learning. By the 2008-2009 academic year, participation grew to nearly 1,600 students in more than 100 classes in disciplines and interdisciplinary programs across the university.

The Service-Learning Academy supports and develops ongoing relationships with more than 200 community partners, and provides faculty development opportunities to UNO faculty to assist in service-learning pedagogy scholarship.

Visit www.unomaha.edu/servicelearning for more information, or call (402) 554-6019.

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The University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s metropolitan university. The core values of the institution place students at the center of all that the university does; call for the campus to strive for academic excellence; and promote community engagement that transforms and improves urban, regional, national and global life. UNO, inaugurated in 1968, emerged from the Municipal University of Omaha, established in 1931, which grew out of the University of Omaha founded in 1908.

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