Student Service Learning

Important Info for 2020-2021 School Year Graduation Requirements

MSDE has currently waived the SSL graduation requirement for seniors graduating in the 2021 school year only. This includes SUMMER graduates. 

Based on this information we have worked with content area supervisors and have learned that all infused hours will be offered in a remote setting.  Additionally, after meeting with a panel of stakeholders to include BCPS parents, students, and staff, the recommendation moving forward for INDEPENDENT HOURS is that Safe At Home Independent Projects ONLY should be completed until safety measures surrounding the pandemic changes.

Ideas for some Safe at Home Independent Projects have been listed below.  Please reach out to your school coordinator for other project ideas.

Some suggested SAH Independent Projects:

  • Create a Safe at Home educational videos – Have a hidden talent and want to inspire others?  Work with your school coordinator to create a plan.
  • Partnering with a local school for tutoring

Have other ideas?  Feel free to email your school coordinator for approval.

As a reminder, all Independent Projects need pre-approval from your school-based Service Coordinator before you can begin earning hours.  Contact information is listed below on this web page.

Service-Learning is often confused with volunteering or community service.  While both activities are defined as forms of service within a community, they do not necessarily include a structured educational connection for participants, which is a foundation of all service-learning projects. Students are encouraged to speak with their school service-learning coordinator to discuss if a volunteer or other service activity can be developed into a service-learning project by incorporating a structured educational component.  

Components of a Service-Learning Project

All service-learning experiences must include PREPARATION, ACTION, and REFLECTION:

PREPARATION is the first step of service-learning in which students work with teachers and community members to:

  • Identify issues affecting the community in areas related to health, education, environment, or public safety.
  • Select project site(s) and how to address a selected issue.
  • Plan service-learning reflection.
  • Explore the concept of active citizenship.

Students and their caregivers should carefully read and follow the Independent Project Guidelines found in our Service-Learning Standards & Guidelines in order to ensure that their proposed project meets BCPS and MSDE guidelines. Projects that are completed without following the appropriate guidelines will not be approved and students may not receive service learning hours. 

ACTION is the next step of service-learning in which students carry out their service through one of the following:

  • Direct Service – Students have face-to-face contact with service recipients.  Examples include tutoring other students, serving meals at a homeless shelter, working with the elderly in a senior citizen community, etc.
  • Indirect Service – Students perform a service without having direct contact with the recipient.  Usually resources are channeled to help alleviate a problem.  Examples include food and clothing drives, environmental projects, raising money for a cause through activities such as a walk-a-thon, etc…
  • Advocacy – Students educate others about a selected issue with the goal of eliminating the causes of a particular problem.  Examples include writing letters to legislators or newspaper editors, creating web pages, creating and displaying posters within the community, writing and performing informative plays, creating educational materials for other target groups, legislative testimony, etc.

REFLECTION is the final step of service-learning in which students look back upon the completed project and review what they have learned.  Reflection may be done individually (journals, scrapbooks, teacher-student meetings) or as a group (class evaluation of the project based on the goals and outcomes).

School Coordinators

If at any time you have questions about the Service-Learning process, please reach out to your School Service-Learning Coordinator. Contact information can be found in the lists below:


If additional information is needed, please contact our office:

Nora Murray, Program Specialist
Office of Family & Community Engagement 
Follow Us!   @BCPSServes

Additional materials for staff can be found on our Family & Community Engagement Intranet page.

What is Service-Learning?

Service-Learning is a teaching method that combines meaningful service to the community with curriculum-based learning. Students improve their academic skills by applying what they learn in school to the real world; they then reflect on their experience to reinforce the link between their service and their learning. -- Learning in Deed

Contact Information:
Nora Murray, Project Specialist

Additional materials for staff are available at our intranet.