GLOSSARY OF TERMS
Wingspan recognizes a continuum from community service, through service learning, to community engagement.
At most schools, Community Service entails episodic efforts - primarily by students - to benefit others. These efforts provide services of immediate value to the community, but often lack the continuous interaction and human connection that students (and their parents) consider important, and they have limited lasting impact on the community.
Service Learning incorporates service to the community and entails longer-term commitment to a project. Thoughtful preparation, considerable human interaction, and continuous opportunity for reflection ensure that students and their guides share personal and societal understanding that emerges from the experience. Group projects are normally integrated with other elements of curriculum, and they are selected through discussion with the community organization, to ensure the latter helps define and shape the needs to be met.
Community Engagement incorporates service learning and represents an institutional commitment to explore, reflectively and reciprocally, the needs of the surrounding community and to serve in a way that involves the entire institution, rather than just some of its members. Ideally, engagement is strategic and plays to the unique strengths of schools and their members. Wingspan particularly advocates engagement that involves schools with different demographics working together to enhance educational outcomes and community strength.