SPOKANE – In providing books for needy children, WSU graduate students recently got a service learning experience more common to younger students.
 
Gordon Gates, associate professor in the College of Education at WSU Spokane, made service learning projects part of his “Social Foundations of Education” course. Most enrollees are professional educators working toward certificates or advanced degrees.
 
Some students collected donated used books, which were sold to benefit Room to Read, a nonprofit organization that builds schools and libraries in Asia and Africa. Gates’ choice of the project was inspired by John Wood’s book “Leaving Microsoft to Save the World,” which chronicles the creation of Room to Read.
 
(Katie Herzog with hundreds of books she and others collected to sell to raise money for needy children. Photo courtesy of Julie Titone)
 
Service learning has become commonplace at the undergraduate and high school levels. But, Gates said, the lessons are the same for graduate students and range from the practical to the philosophical.
 
Student Katie Herzog of Spokane and three others collected, sorted and mailed 799 books, from which they hope to raise about $1,000.
 
She most appreciated the communal aspects of the project: getting to know her classmates, working collaboratively, seeing the professor as a “co-learner,” and becoming involved with the campus communities.
 
“Other positives include … observing a professor who actually ‘walked the talk’ by seeking and trying new alternatives,” she said.
 
Gates’ 18 students tackled six different projects, including: collecting books and school supplies for the Bruce Hotel, a family shelter in Wenatchee; collecting books for Spokane’s Success by Six, which focuses on getting kids ready to learn; raising money and collecting computers and software for an ESL (English as a second language) center in Spokane; and raising money for Heifer International, an international aid organization.