Among the thickest roots
of the current emphasis
on service-learning is a small group
of students from the me-first era
who were bent on starting
something big, sustainable
and run by 20-year-olds.
by David E. Brown ’ 75
One week ago, they graduated from the fifth
grade. One week of vacation doesn’t seem
like much reward, but here they are, dropped
at the curb at 7: 30 on a muggy summer
morning where, one by one, they are serenaded into middle school by frighteningly
enthusiastic college students.
Joy to the world,
All the boys and girls
Love to keep on learning and having fun,
Here at Student U.
Off they go to breakfast, then a sort of academic pep
rally, then to science, reading, math and something
called Global Connect.
By the third day, they are fully vested in a seven-stu-dent “family” that will stay intact for all these six weeks
and follow them to their regular school in the fall.
They’re well aware this ain’t Camp Runamok, and they
are expected to be doing this for two more summers
until finally they push out of these most hazardous years
and on to high school — and hopefully college.
Throughout the Durham educational community,
these 50 kids are thought to be extraordinarily lucky. If
they’re giving up some time by the pool, consider that
their teachers are very much swimming in the deep
end. For the most part, they’re brand new at this.
They’re pulling all-nighters working on their lesson
plans. They are described as being “on the edge of
Pupil and teacher are taking a chance on each other,
at one end of a tradition of chance-taking that started
in Chapel Hill some 15 years ago.