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Waubonsee Adjunct English Instructor Kassia Shaw was honored by the Two-Year College English Association for her proposal, "Small Steps, Big Rewards: The Path to Service Learning."

Waubonsee English Instructor Shaw Honored for Service Learning Emphasis

Kassia Shaw, adjunct English instructor at Waubonsee Community College, has won recognition for her efforts to encourage students to learn outside of the classroom, as well as within.

In early October, Shaw received the Adjunct Faculty Proposal Award 2014 from the Two-Year College English Association Conference in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Shaw was recognized for her submission, “Small Steps, Big Rewards: The Path to Service Learning,” which she co-presented with Paul Resnick, Professor of English at Illinois Central College.

The proposal centered on her attempts in teaching English 101 and 102 courses at Waubonsee to incorporate community service learning opportunities with her more traditional classroom work.

She noted other instructors at Waubonsee do so, as well, but she said all must overcome certain obstacles, including working within the nature and requirements of the courses, while “honoring the expertise and experiences” and the time schedules of the students.

She said she was also challenged to make the service-learning components of the courses, which are optional, “enticing” to students.

“I feel that if you can get students to make those connections to the outside world in a way that they share personal investment, their
engagement within the course significantly increases,” Shaw said.

Recently, she said, students have performed their service learning work with such community groups as the Waubonsee Adult Literacy Project and Aurora Cultural Creatives, a group dedicated to using the arts to revitalize Aurora’s downtown and offer young people artistic pursuits.

“Students are always amazed to see the connection between what we write in class and how it directly applies to what they’ll be doing in their prospective careers,” Shaw said.