Researchers at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture state in The Content of Their Character that there are five ways that “thick” moral communities are formed: 1) authoritative sources, 2) formal instruction, 3) informal “catching,” 4) routine practices, and 5) surrounding social support. The example of Monreville, Ohio high schoolers involvement with community service is an example of informal catching and routine practices. This is how “thick” moral communities are formed.
Monroeville, Ohio high schoolers are expected to perform at least 40 hours of community service to graduate, but school officials are hoping the requirement sparks a passion for service that will inspire students long after they receive their diplomas.
For many Monroeville students like freshman Isaiah Scheid, who volunteers to paint and do other tasks at a small church near his house, helping others is a way of life. “I grew up around service. I grew up doing the little things,” he told the Norwalk Reflector. “I want to help. I want to give back more than what’s required to.”
Monroeville Local Schools officials recently offered additional opportunities for student service projects and highlighted service related occupations as part of a service learning fair coordinated with nearly 20 local businesses and organizations.
The event, which took place in early April, was organized by Jen Meyer, director of student activities, along with high school secretary Kelly Poths. The intent, Meyer said, is to urge students to consider service “beyond these four walls and how it will impact the community they live in.”
“They truly enjoy what they do,” Meyer said of student volunteers. “I think that’s why we have such great kids here.”
The fair featured keynote speaker V. Jane Rosser, director of Bowling Green State University’s Center of Community & Civic Engagement, who commended students for their work in the community.
According to the Reflector:
Rosser challenged the students to consider where volunteering can lead them, discover what they’re passionate about and open their minds on “what service looks like.” She said many people only think about “direct service” — such as volunteering at pantries or doing construction — but there are careers such as being a firefighter, police officer or in the military that focus on service and having an impact on one’s community."
Other speakers, like Monroeville athletic boosters president Jackie Schafer and Norwalk Safety-Service Director Dan Wendt, emphasized the rewards of serving others. “It makes you feel good and you’re helping someone,” Schafer said.
Students, meanwhile, seem to be getting the message. Eighth-grader Jayla Lepley told the Reflector 40 hours of community service needed to graduate doesn’t seem like a lot “because there are so many opportunities in the community.”
And in the end, Lepley pointed out, serving others “makes you a selfless person.”
Teachers and principals wanting to strengthen moral and character education in their school will find helpful information and strategies at the UK's Jubilee Centre.