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Learn and Serve Tampa: Experience the Impact of Service-Learning

This past September, Learn and Serve Tampa led the way with a 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance at Fowler Field on the USF campus in Tampa, Florida. A memorial of 2977 placards was placed in an empty field to create a 200-foot by 100-foot American Flag. Each placard contained the name of a person who had died on September 11th, 2001. What is most incredible about this memorial is that schoolchildren built it. 

What is Service Learning? It is recognizing a community need or issue and using that as a catalyst for lesson planning. While that is the technical answer, we would rather share a story…

It was 2009. Kristy Verdi, Founder of Learn and Serve Tampa, was meeting with her service-learning leadership class. A student who had moved from New Jersey the year before suggested the class do a remembrance activity for Patriot Day. The boy had been 3 or 4 years old on September 11th, 2001, but the memories of his mother crying were very strong.

The boy and Kristy discovered that most of the other students in the class did not know much about that terrible day in American history. It was then that a service-learning project was born. 

The students proceeded to plan out a memorial where every person who died would have a star. And every star would be placed on the front lawn of their school. The students brainstormed many ideas, such as where to find a list of victims and how the stars would be positioned in the ground. They made supply lists and installation plans. And they learned. They learned that 2977 isn’t just a number. They planned, created, and touched every one of those 2977 stars. 

The following year, students began writing biographies about the victims and attaching their stories to the appropriate placards. 

In 2023, students wrote biographies for each person who perished at the Pentagon. One student said, “It is so much different to see 2977 than just hearing 2977.”

Another student who had volunteered to help place the placards in the field stated, “This is truly impactful because this happened before I was born.”

Through this project, students served by remembering and memorializing the September 11th, 2001 victims. They learned through advocacy, direct service, and research. 

This method of learning allows students to learn and develop through active participation. It enables them to make a difference in their own communities. 

If you love children and want them to learn through goodness, volunteerism, and charity participation, please donate to Learn and Serve Tampa, Inc. 

Learn and Serve Tampa Christmas Wish List

“I want to grow these programs into more Hillsborough and Pasco County schools. Funding will help with materials, teaching aids, and support staff.”

www.learnandservetampa.org

813-727-9813

learnandservetampa@gmail.com

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