FSC sociology students participate in service learning project
Marriage and family class works with children in First United Methodist Neighborhood Ministries Program
LAKELAND, Fla. (Sept. 24, 2008) — Students taking Florida Southern College’s marriage and family course at FSC have taken on an off-campus assignment that will benefit Lakeland area children as well as enrich their own class experience. Dr. Sharon Masters, FSC sociology professor, designed the project that is sending her 28 students to First United Methodist Church in Lakeland to interact with children in the church’s Neighborhood Ministries Program. The students will visit periodically for a total of 7-8 hours each, and then will write papers on their experiences. The project concludes Oct. 30.
Most of the children in the neighborhood program need extra attention, after-school supervision, activities, support, care, and help with school, Masters says. “I want my students to have experience with kids who need this kind of a program, and I want them just to work with kids. The course is designed to provide practical information to the students to learn about raising their own families, and to provide an academic background for careers and education in working with families and children.”
FSC graduates Kelly Dial (‘01), director of the ministries program, and Corey Jones (‘05), assistant director, have been working with the sociology students on this project. Jones, who earned her degree in sociology, visited the campus and explained to the students the requirements for volunteering to work with children, which included a police background check. Jones also offered the students an opportunity to take a children protection training class, part of the United Methodist Children and Youth Protection Policy, which Dial and Jones teach together.
“I am so excited about how well the FSC sociology department students are doing with the children and youth,” says Dial, who majored in psychology. “The children have enjoyed them very much. They are engaging our kids in conversation and asking questions that make them think. Their approach has been hands on, all the way around. Several students also arrived early and stayed late to help with tutoring, giving more hours than they were expected to. What a blessing they all are.”
Masters hopes that the students’ experiences will pique their interest in careers with children who need services. “In sociology, we educate students in social reality and to make a difference in their community,” Masters explains. “They learn to get beyond stereotypes and popular opinions about individuals and groups, and that humans depend on other humans. Our graduates are employed in many fields - education, business, social services, public administration, the professions, social work and counseling, and they carry with them this basic sociological orientation.”