Student Service-Learning (SSL)
All Maryland students must complete a student service requirement in order to earn a high school diploma. Students must complete at least 75 hours of service.
Maryland embraces the Learning in Deed definition of service-learning:
Service-learning is a teaching method that combines meaningful service to the community with curriculum-based learning. Students improve their academic skills by applying what they learn in school to the real world; they then reflect on their experience to reinforce the link between their service and their learning.
Maryland’s Seven Best Practices of Service-Learning
All service-learning experiences should meet all of the Maryland’s Seven Best Practices of Service-Learning.
- Address a recognized need in the community.
- Achieve curricular objectives through service-learning.
- Reflect throughout the service-learning experience.
- Develop student responsibility.
- Establish community partnerships.
- Plan ahead for service-learning.
- Equip students with knowledge and skills needed for civic engagement.
High Quality Standards: Preparation, Action, and Reflection
All service-learning experiences must include academic preparation, service activities, and structured reflection.
- Identify an educational project that supports a community need.
- Explore why it is important to perform the service activity.
- Specify specific knowledge and skills needed.
- Set expectations and objectives of the service.
- Identify the adult who will train, supervise, and guide the student.
- Direct Service is when students have face-to-face contact with the service recipient. Examples include visiting persons in a nursing home or a hospital, caring for pets in an animal shelter, and serving in a food kitchen.
- Indirect Service is when students perform a service without having face-to-face contact with the recipient. Examples include collections, fundraisers, and clean-ups.
- Advocacy is when students educate others about a particular issue with the goal being to eliminate the cause of a particular problem. Examples include writing letters to government officials and preparing educational materials.
- Consider the need that was addressed and how the service impacted the community.
- Assess what worked well and what could have been improved.
- Evaluate about what was accomplished and what was learned from this experience.
* Adapted from MSDE’s Preparation, Action, Reflection.
Students may begin to earn SSL hours in Grade 6. Students will continue to accrue hours throughout middle school and high school.
Step 1: Get pre-approved. All service-learning activities must first be approved by the campus-based SSL Coordinator. Review and prepare for the activity with your SSL Coordinator. Acquire necessary forms and obtain signature approving the service-learning experience.
Download and print the following forms:
Step 2: Perform the service-learning activity. At the end of the activity, complete forms in their entirety and obtain necessary signatures. The site supervisor of the service-learning activity will need to verify service and sign forms as well before hours can be counted.
Step 3: Return completed Student Service-Learning Activity Verification and the Student Service-Learning Timesheet forms to the campus-based SSL Coordinator according to the following timelines:
- Students who complete a service-learning activity during the school year have two weeks (14 days) after the last day of the service-learning activity to turn in the form.
- Students who complete a service-learning activity during the summer have one week (7 days) after the first day of school to turn in the form.
Sample Student Service-Learning (SSL) Activities
- After School Program (ASP)
- Athletic Team Manager
- Middle School: maximum of 15 hours – a one-time opportunity
- High School: maximum of 30 hours – a one-time opportunity
- Summer Camps
- Non-Profit Organizations
- Animal Shelters
- Shelters/Soup Kitchens
- MSD’s Athletic Booster Club
MSD students who earn 150 hours or more will be recognized with a certificate of meritorious service and a purple cord to be worn at graduation.
State SSL Resources
Information about service-learning in Maryland, available resources, project ideas, and service-learning contacts around the state are available on the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) website.
For more information, review the Maryland Service-Learning Guidelines online.
Richard Jeffries, Ph.D. | SSL Coordinator, Columbia Campus
Vicki Kitsembel | SSL Coordinator, Frederick Campus