Student Service Learning (SSL)
Student Service Learning (SSL) is a graduation requirement in Maryland and Washington County Public Schools.
The following are guidelines that clarify what qualifies as SSL activity for students:
- Any service done for a family member cannot be counted. Exception: When a family member is a part of a group being helped. For example, a student is serving as a reading tutor and her brother happens to be in the class she tutors.
- Any activity where the student is receiving a grade or course credit cannot be counted. Activities such as parades, band concerts, show choir shows and internships, in which participation is required, cannot be counted
- If a group of band members voluntarily play Christmas music at a nursing home, (not required by the instructor) this would count as SSL.
- Fund-raising activities only count when the funds raised go to the benefit of a non-profit organization and benefit the greater community. If a soccer team sells candy bars to get new uniforms, this would not count (does not benefit the greater community). If they sell candy and give the proceeds to the United Way, then it would count.
- Any activity with a church group has to be a benefit to the greater community, and not part of a service, to be counted.
- Generally activities that occur during regular school hours will not be counted. Being a teacher’s aide is not counted. Being peer counselor is not counted. Exceptions:Students who are released to serve as reading tutors or mentors in an elementary school (not as part of a class); students who serve as blood drive volunteers; students who serve as ambassadors to other schools. Rationale: These students are missing classes where they will be expected to make up the work, to serve this volunteer activity.
- Students who volunteer at fire and rescue companies will only be given credit for regularly scheduled hours, as approved and noted by the chief or administrator. Any training hours will be counted (as preparation) as long as they are not for college or high school credit.
- Student-initiated activities should be encouraged. However, accountability must be insured and built into the plan. If a student wants to collect donations for the SPCA at the mall, he or she should bring the SSL coordinator a permission form from the mall allowing the collection of these funds and a receipt from the SPCA showing the donation.
Some adaptation of these guidelines may be necessary for special education populations.
Criteria for SSL Hours
Some questions have arisen as to what exactly will and will not earn a student SSL credit. In an effort to carry out our SSL program in a uniform manner throughout the county, please refer to the following criteria when determining whether or not an activity should receive SSL credit.
- Students cannot be paid.
- Students cannot replace a paid worker
- Generally, the agencies or organizations should be non-profit. Some exceptions apply, such as hospitals and nursing homes, but students may not participate in actual profit-making functions of any business.
- There must be an identified need for student service.
- Course credit may not be earned for the service hours provided.
- Projects may not be part of any partisan political activities.
- All projects must include the three SSL components: Preparation, Action and Reflection.