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Mack-Boulder Spotlight: Meaningful Service Learning Through IB Community Projects

IMG_4448-2Imagine being able to reconnect today with someone you helped through service twenty years ago. Better still, imagine that not only has that person grown to be an amazing adult, but that he is also living a life of service to others? Former Mack parent, Mara Rose, recently had that experience. Mara said, “In the late ’90s, I ran an organization called Playing to Win. We housed a second organization called HarlemLive (see a short description below). The man who ran HarlemLive, Richard Calton, decided to have a mini HarlemLive reunion at my house recently, so he and four of his former students (two of whom I worked with as well) spent the weekend in Boulder. They have all gone on to do amazing things and be amazing people, and they all credit HarlemLive for helping to put them on the right path.” One of the former students is Clifton Taylor. Mara was kind enough to bring Mr. Taylor to Mack-Boulder to meet with the 8th graders while he was in Boulder.

The Mack-Boulder 8th graders have the opportunity to live “Keen Minds, Compassionate Hearts, Global Action” to its fullest this year in the form of the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program Community Project.

“The aims of the MYP projects are to encourage and enable students to:

  • participate in a sustained, self-directed inquiry within a global context
  • generate creative new insights and develop deeper understandings through in-depth investigation
  • demonstrate the skills, attitudes and knowledge required to complete a project over an extended period of time
  • communicate effectively in a variety of situations
  • demonstrate responsible action through, or as a result of, learning
  • appreciate the process of learning and take pride in their accomplishments.”

Having the opportunity to meet with someone who not only benefited from the service of others but who also has makes service a big part of his own life was inspirational for the 8th graders. Clifton Taylor has been a member of the Oklahoma City police department for two years, and he’s been a medic in the National Guard for around six years. He was born in Jamaica, moved to New York City when he was around 9, and grew up in Harlem. He’s now 32 years old, and he loves all things technology and service. He recently returned from a 6-month training mission in the Ukraine where he and his colleagues trained members of the Ukrainian military. Mr. Taylor especially enjoys doing outreach with groups of students.IMG_4449-2

Mr. Taylor spoke with the 8th graders about a range of topics, but the main messages the students came away with were: treating all people with respect and love and as equals is paramount; helping through service can make a real and lasting difference in the lives of others; living a life of service benefits you as much as the people you help.

As the 8th graders embark on their Community Projects, hearing those messages from Clifton Taylor helped them feel their projects can truly have a meaningful impact. Maybe in twenty years, they, like Mara Rose, will have the opportunity to see evidence of the lasting good their service helped create.

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HarlemLive introduces young people to journalism and computer technology in order to build their skills and introduce them to resources in the communications field. Its goal is to develop “leading-edge activists who care deeply about the communities in which they live and who are trained to play pivotal leadership roles as 21st century communicators.”

HarlemLive provides media resources and experiences to help young people become more successful while increasing their communication skills. The program combines training and hands-on experience in journalism, photography, video, and computer technology for young people, ages 13 to 21, and trains them to produce and manage an on-line magazine about the Harlem community called “HarlemLive.” Teenagers run every aspect of the publication and are assigned positions such as editor-in-chief, managing editor, photo editor, reporters, layout designers, administrators and technicians. They are responsible for editorial content, production schedules and community outreach.