Student Service-Learning

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.

  1. Address a recognized need in the community.
  2. Achieve curricular objectives through service-learning.
  3. Reflect throughout the service-learning experience.
  4. Develop student responsibility.
  5. Establish community partnerships.
  6. Plan ahead for service-learning.
  7. 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.

The Process

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 one week (7 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
  • Events
  • Non-Profit Organizations
    • Animal Shelters
    • Shelters/Soup Kitchens
    • MSD’s Athletic Booster Club, Inc.

Meritorious Service

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.

Service-Learning Coordinators
Peggy Dell | SSL Coordinator, Columbia Campus
Vicki Kitsembel | SSL Coordinator, Frederick Campus