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ADP Service Spotlight for April

Doctoral Students Reach Out In Community

psychology doctoral students
(from left) Craig Henderson, assistant professor of psychology, and doctoral students Jennifer Rockett, Cynthia Mundt and Meghan Davis get referrals from schools and probation officers to help students with drug and behavioral problems.

While trends of drug use have decreased since its peak in the late 1990s, drug use amongst adolescents is still a big problem today in communities of all sizes, according to Craig Henderson, assistant professor of psychology.

“It’s not a socioeconomic issue; it’s not a race or ethnicity issue. Any community is going to have problems with it,” he said. “There are segments of the population for whom it’s a real big problem, such as kids with legal problems; drug use and legal problems go hand in hand.”

As a psychologist, Henderson has had a vested interest in family and adolescent therapy and drug abuse issues since he was a graduate student.

Through his work, he realized that the most effective way to help both adolescents and adults with their drug abuse problems is by taking a more hands-on approach.

“I do think when you work with clients about these kinds of problems, it does help people to get more engaged in the treatment you’re providing,” he said. “The stronger collaboration, the more you’re on the same page, the more the clients are going to benefit too.”

Because of this, Henderson encourages the doctoral psychology students whom he supervises in their clinical training to be more service-oriented, focusing on what happens in the external community—the schools and the courts—rather than focusing exclusively on individually-focused issues or client thought processes.

“Just because of my theoretical orientation and experiences that I’ve had, I really believe that it’s important, in order to make changes in the lives of people, to be able to have some influence and be involved in important factors that shape people’s behaviors,” he said.

This philosophy is the American Democracy Project’s Service Spotlight for April.

When Henderson came to SHSU in the fall of 2005, he found that his experiences in the areas of young people with drug problems and delinquency from a family-based perspective was not something SHSU’s program had an emphasis in.

“I was nervous about how students would take to this work,” he said. “It’s something I believe in. I’ve seen the data and research that really supports the treatment, but I was a little bit nervous because it does require more work from people.

“You have to talk with more people, you have to take time out to meet outside of the clinic,” he said. “I’ve been really pleasantly surprised because people have been very receptive to it and have had a lot of neat opportunities.”

Henderson supervises anywhere from two to six doctoral students per semester who counsel a variety of “pretty seriously mentally ill” adults and youths at SHSU’s Psychological Services Center and not just those who have drug-related problems.

However, they get four to five referrals from both probation officers and school teachers or principals per semester which commonly requires them to “attend school meetings, talk with school personnel, and if a kid’s having trouble at school, trying to work with the teachers, the principal, to make things better in that situation, to look into if another placement might be better for the kid,” Henderson said.

Student clinicians will also go into the school to observe a child’s behavior, as not to get information second-hand.

During Henderson’s time at SHSU, students have worked with kids with behavioral problems, as well as drug problems, at Huntsville, Trinity and Conroe schools.

“Part of the assessment is finding out what other areas of a kid’s life he or she is having trouble with,” he said. “I really feel like it’s our job to, at the very least, get information in those areas and to the extent we can, try to influence them to bring about some positive kind of changes.”

Because youths can be extremely critical in the beginning of the process, oftentimes being counseled against their wills, building a relationship and convincing the kids that getting help is something they should do for themselves and not just their parents or schools is something the doctoral students must learn to do, Henderson said.

“It (working with people) directly helps the problem behavior that we’re focusing on, and it helps the client, particularly if we’re talking about kids,” he said. “If you can do something for them, solve a problem, go to bat for them, they’ll get more engaged, they trust you more; they see this as something that may be able to help them.

“Ultimately it benefits them in decreasing the problems that they came in for, or were made to come in for,” he said.

In addition, Henderson’s students sometimes work with the forensic aspects of psychology when clients’ legal troubles are involved, doing such things as assessing juveniles for competency before proceeding in court cases.

Among the benefits the clinical students reap from the hands-on approach are improvement in basic counseling skills: interviewing, learning to listen to people and how to hear emotions expressed by someone beyond just their words, Henderson said.

Doctoral students see clients year round. Fees are assessed based on a sliding scale of their clients’ incomes.

For more information on the Psychological Services Center, call 936.294.1210.


ADP Service Spotlight for March

Students Get Glimpse Of Field During Project

Criminal justice adjunct professor Stephanie Frogge’s students get a real-world application when taking her victim-related courses and are the focus for the March American Democracy Project’s Service Learning Spotlight.

In addition to her lectures, Frogge requires all of her students to complete 10 hours of service-oriented work with an agency related to the course topic and write a reflection paper detailing their experiences as a project that counts as approximately 20 percent of their grade.

For this semester’s victimology class, students are working with crime victims at agencies such as the SAAFE House, Children’s Safe Harbor, Conroe’s Texans for Equal Justice and other police departments or the district attorney’s offices.

Last semester, the first semester she made the service a requirement and not just for extra-credit, students in her family violence class worked with agencies that provide services to victims or offenders of domestic violence.

This kind of work is “where the rubber meets the road in the field of criminal justice,” she said.

“In the field of criminal justice, in particular I think, it is critically important that the students have theoretical foundations, that they understand the system backwards and forwards, that they’ve been pretty well immersed in the different components of the system, (and that they understand that) fundamentally, we have a criminal justice system because bad things happen to real people,” she said.

“I think that’s a piece that also needs to be underscored. That’s why I bring crime survivors into the classroom occasionally to talk about their experiences,” she said. “I just think it’s very, very important that students apply what they’re learning in the classroom to real-life settings.”

What students do as service is “between the students and the agencies,” Frogge said, adding that many places require training in order to do things like answer hotlines so students tend to do things such as office work and provide childcare or transportation.

“Some of them did absolutely nothing that had direct contact with victims, but that’s OK; as long as they were helping the agency, they were helping the clients as well,” she said.

Senior criminal justice major Ted Garelick served his hours last semester sorting food, clothes and toy donations at Cypress Assistance Ministries.

While the job became tedious at times, Garelick said he learned “there is a lot more to being a volunteer at a place like that than I had originally thought.

“The dedication that it takes to do such tedious, although fulfilling, work day after day for nothing but a ‘thank you’ is awe-inspiring,” he said.

“One thing that may be surprising to most is that even with an overflowing pantry of food, people continuing to donate to that overflowing pantry, and volunteers tirelessly working to sort the food, it is not enough to feed the people who need it,” he said. “I volunteered to work in the pantry just before Thanksgiving. If it had been almost any other time, I’m sure that the donations would not have been as plentiful, which is sadder still.”

Reading through last semester’s reflection papers, Frogge said she found that students learned more than just the amounts of food an organization goes through or the power of a thank you.

“People who did their work at SAAFE House worked at the agency’s resale shop, Elite Repeat, which is on the square,” she said. “Because SAAFE House clients shop there (they can get a voucher to go in and get things they need to set up their household), a lot of the students were really surprised that they look just like you and me. There wasn’t an image of a battered person that they were assuming (there was).”

Another of the themes Frogge saw repeatedly in the papers that she “thought was really interesting” was that students could not believe the numbers of clients served at some of the agencies.

“We think we’re in a little, semi-rural county, and we are, but many of the students were really, really quite taken aback by the sheer numbers of clients,” she said.

“Some of the kids did childcare while their parents were in (a) group (session), and seeing some of the mannerisms of the children was a little troubling for some of the students; that some of the kids weren’t very outgoing or maybe said something that made them reflect back on their own childhood, realizing that we weren’t facing these types of issues and wondering how these kids were going to fare as they got older,” Frogge said. “So that was pretty insightful.”

The work also served to dispel stereotypes or myths some students had associated with the line of work.

“I thought it was funny, I would not have predicted this; several of the students in their paper, not just at SAAFE House but at other places, said they thought that the agency would be really dingy and the employees really subdued and it would be a depressing atmosphere,” Frogge said. “A number of them in their papers said that the agency where they worked was really fun and the people were fun and it was upbeat and it was a relatively nice working environment.

“That kind of tickles me. What do people think these agencies are going to be like?” she said. “But I guess they thought given the issue that that would be reflected back in the work environment, and they were pleasantly surprised that in fact it didn’t.”

Many students made the commitment to stay on with the agency after their required volunteer time was complete and some are now applying for paid positions at agencies they worked with.

Both Garelick and Frogge said they feel service-learning projects are valuable learning tools, especially when the work is applicable to the field in which students will ultimately work in one facet or another.

“I think volunteer work is something that’s required of all of us. Students who are in the habit are more likely to do that after college, and I do think that we have some responsibility to promote that, both as part of the college experience but also in anticipation of students continuing to move into leadership roles in their own communities post college,” Frogge said. “Just as we try to promote good habits of citizenship across the board, this is one of the ways that we do that.”


ADP Service Spotlight for February

New Profs Plant Service Seeds

George Moore, Jane Haggard
George Moore and Jane Haggard plant the seeds of service learning to community college leaders and other educators through their presentation of a class project conducted by a group of Haggard's students.

A class project that unexpectedly turned into a service-learning project for one SHSU educational leadership and counseling professor while teaching at Blinn College is now being used as an example of such for other educators across the state.

Assistant professors Jane Haggard and George Moore, both new to the university’s educational leadership and counseling department, will present on the project for the second time this year this weekend (Feb. 22-23) during Texas A&M University’s 7th Annual Assessment Conference.

Their hope of inspiring educators to incorporate the idea of service learning into their curriculums through their presentations is February’s American Democracy Project Service Spotlight.

While teaching at Blinn, Haggard gave her six groups of public speaking students a project for which they were to pretend they were giving a speech at a national conference.

One of those groups went to Haggard with an idea to use their speech for something beneficial to the child advocate organization CASA: honoring members of the group’s volunteer base.

“They went in, determined what the need was and determined that the volunteers needed more recognition, so they set up this process of getting people they wanted to honor,” Haggard said.

The five students then set up a ceremony, sent out invitations and paid tribute to three volunteers in front of an audience that included judges and other dignitaries.

“It emerged into a service-learning project,” she said.

After coming to SHSU, Haggard and Moore, both of whom have an interest in service-learning and civic engagement, discussed the project one day and found they “both embraced the same ideals about teaching,” Moore said.

They then decided to make a case-study presentation over the project.

The two presented at the National Conference on Civic Engagement in Austin earlier in the month, and Haggard’s project was even mentioned in the textbook “Ethics and the Foundations of Education: Teaching Convictions In A Postmodern World” by Patrick Slattery and Dana Rapp.

During the presentations, the two “kindred spirits” discuss experiential learning, the methodology of service learning and its five steps, which include preparation, action, reflection, recognition and evaluation, Haggard said.

Haggard generally presents on service-learning itself, while Moore discusses collaboration in learning; authentic learning, which is making the learning fit into the real-world situations students will have to face one day; and constructivism.

The two also discuss the case study in their classes at SHSU, “planting the seed” for future community college leaders, school curriculum coordinators and even principals “to champion initiatives that will forward civic engagement as a social responsibility,” Haggard said.

“I highlighted this particular exemplar in my class because I’m hoping that they are inspired by it, and whenever they get in those positions, they will have the possibility of having it forwarded under their leadership,” she said, adding that the project was inspiring even for her.

The students involved in the project also responded well to their work.

“I began this semester just wanting to make an ‘A’ in the course but learned my true goal for this project was to make a lasting impression,” one student wrote in reflection of the project.

“This project was definitely a learning experience and made an enormous impression on my life,” another wrote. “Although it required many hours and much planning, the end result was incredibly rewarding.”

One of her students in the group at Blinn was so inspired that she became an advocate for the organization after the project, Moore said.

Haggard and Moore stress the intrinsic motivation and giving students a lesson with a “real context” not only to support the use of service-based learning in their presentation but also encourage the audience to find their own niches for the concept.

“This (Haggard’s project) is a good example of how service learning can be used but it’s in one isolated public speaking class,” Moore said. “One of the things we do at the end of our presentation is that we get the participants in the audience to talking about how in their discipline they might be able to incorporate something like this.”

ADP Service Spotlight for January

Some of Sam Houston State University's business students are performing like real pros, even before they graduate.     

Many area businesses and organizations have been helped by College of Business Administration students as part of their marketing classes using a teaching/service concept now called "service learning."

The college's "capstone" marketing class, where all of its marketing students get their final blessing to "go forth and do likewise," is in January's American Democracy Project Service Learning Spotlight.

Three individuals have been most active in the effort--faculty members Sanjay Mehta at first and now John Newbold, and Bob Barragan, director of the Small Business Development Center.

"To date, over 200 projects have been completed for small business owners in the community," said Barragan. "This collaboration has been in existence for approximately 10 years."

Newbold explained how it works in his classes.

Students are introduced to the class project on the first day of class, and begin working with the business or entity about a quarter of the way through the class. Teams are formed to compile the various parts of a marketing plan, including such elements as product, distribution strategy, price strategy, and promotion strategy.

As student teams progress with their clients, related material is covered in class, beginning with situation analysis through evaluation and control. Students present their findings and get input from other class members.

Finally, they turn in their plans for a grade, the professor provides input on how the plans can be improved, and the plans are delivered to the clients.

"Essentially, SHSU marketing students write a marketing plan for local businesses, free of charge," said Newbold. "The students have consistently turned in creative, professional documents that have greatly assisted local businesses."

One group did a plan for the downtown Huntsville Main Street Program.

Harold Hutcheson, Main Street Program manager, said they put together a program of events and incentives to get businesses to work together on events and on uniform signage, even suggesting advertising and campaign development ideas.

"I've been in the marketing and advertising business for 30 years," said Hutcheson, "and a couple of the people on those teams were as good as I've seen in some of the agencies."    

Another group worked with a company that sells custom T-shirts. They did research to determine which organizations and departments at SHSU were buying, and from where.

"The result was that the guy knew what his 'share of market' was and which organizations to target," said Newbold.   "They also helped him establish a database for tracking his future progress."

A group did a project for the Raven Nest Golf Course, which is operated by the university. One suggestion was a plan to attract more female golfers by working out an arrangement with local day care organizations to make it easier for mothers to take lessons during slower times of the day.

Rich Ballinger, director of the Professional Golf Association/Professional Golf Management Program at SHSU, appreciates the effort.

"I was extremely impressed with the ideas and concepts that the students in Dr. Newbold's class came up with," said Ballinger. "They gave me some very good ideas to implement at Raven Nest Golf Club. I was particularly impressed with the presentations the students gave.   The visual aids and presentations overall were extremely professional."

Newbold credits Mehta with pioneering the program on the academic side. Mehta said he has been using a similar concept for 15 years, including his work at UT Permian Basin and North Texas. He and Newbold have also come up with improvements to make the courses more in tune with the service learning concept.

Recent modifications include teaching sessions on citizenship, moral development and ethics, having students reflect on their work before, during and after projects, and formally measuring the impact of the work.

Newbold said that from his perspective service learning is a win/win/win/win situation.

"One of the best things about the program is how symbiotic it is," said Newbold. "The Small Business Development Center gets helped, the participating firms get helped, and the students get some great experience.   It is more work for the faculty, but we get interesting things to develop research publications around."


ADP Service Spotlight for December

As Corliss Lentz prepared to meet her Political Science 393 class for the first time in late August 2005, Tropical Depression 12 was a 30 knot squall over the Central Bahamas. It was of little interest to anyone other than a few optimistic Weather Channel storm chasers.

Less than a week later it was Hurricane Katrina, roaring across Florida and slamming into the New Orleans area. It threw the Gulf Coast into turmoil, and the entire country as well, creating a disaster from which we are yet to fully recover.

Half of Lentz's 42 students, most of whom had never heard the term "service learning" and many who were appalled that it was something they were being asked to do, would end up working with the Louisiana refugees.

Lentz, associate professor of political science, has been teaching the social policy class since 1997. Four years ago she added the 20 hours of volunteer work requirement, as well as a paper on what the students learned from it and a class presentation.

The paper and the presentation are what made the service "service learning."

"You should see their faces on the first day of class when I explain to them what they have to do," said Lentz.

She admits it was not an original idea as other universities have used the concept longer. Now the American Democracy Project at SHSU is encouraging faculty members to make it a part of their classes when practical.

Lentz's reasoning: "Most of our students have had little exposure to the poor, and are therefore unsympathetic. They may know that 15 percent of the population is in poverty, but they have absolutely no sense of what this means."

Faculty members who make service and reflection on it a part of their courses are enthusiastic about its benefits. Students who have done it are downright effusive when they talk about what it has done for them as well as those they help.

Casi Countz remembers working with a first grader from New Orleans who was behind in learning to read. He was reclusive at first. When she discovered that he liked the cartoon "The Fox and the Hound," and found him a book about a puppy to read together, he opened up.

"Adjusting to his needs and taking the time to win him over is something that I would have never done before this assignment," she wrote.

The experience also broadened her perspective.

"I realized that the people that I wanted to help, who had made me nervous and even a little scared, are just like me. They have just fallen on hard times or need help in areas that I am good in, that's all, and there is no reason to put off helping them any more."

Lentz's students were as lucky in their opportunities for service last fall as the people of Texas and Louisiana were unlucky in being hit by two storms. Thomas Schulte worked in a Red Cross shelter during Hurricane Rita.

"I was able to overcome any apprehension that I felt prior to my service and left the project with an incredible experience, a new sense of self-worth, and a greater understanding of the concept of service learning," wrote Schulte.

"It was amazing to experience the feeling of seeing the looks on these people's faces and the sincerity in their voices when they thanked me for doing something as simple as setting up a cot or handing out a warm meal."

Jerry Cornwall has a more global perspective, after working for the United Nations Children's Fund, also known as UNICEF.

"In the past I always asked myself why the United States is always helping people in Third World countries," he wrote, "when we have so many people here in the United States that need help.

"I realize that there are children here in the United States that live in horrible circumstances and those children are helped by our welfare programs and by UNICEF since September, but on the whole the children of the United States are in a much better position than anywhere else in the world."

Laci Mayton helped with the YMCA's Partners of Youth program.

"Before volunteering," she wrote, "I had felt that I didn't care enough about the organization that I was volunteering for. After all that I did, however, I realize that I did not care before, but once I met the people and got involved, I did."

Paul Cassidy worked with the Huntsville school district's Disciplinary Alternative Education Program, coming to believe that he should share his "knowledge and wealth."

"The knowledge I possess is due to my education," he wrote. "The wealth comes from the education and the opportunities that it will provide. Learning through service is a necessary occurrence in order for society to grow."

Joe Reagey, who worked with the Good Shepherd Mission in Huntsville, summed it up this way:

"The service learning project was the most meaningful assignment I have experienced at Sam Houston State University."


ADP Service Spotlight of the Month

Today@Sam is beginning a monthly series entitled ADP Service Spotlight. In it we will feature students and faculty who have incorporated the service-learning concept into their curriculum.

Featured faculty may nominate themselves for coverage or be nominated by a colleague. Today@Sam will also seek out faculty members identified through surveys conducted by the American Democracy Project.

Lee Miller is one SHSU faculty member who has been involved in both service and service-learning. She is co-sponsor along with Mary Ann Davis of the Sociology Club.

That group is especially active in the older concept of students doing service that fulfills a community need. As an example, they were recently contacted by Frieda Koeninger, foreign languages professor and vice president of the Community Organization for Missionary Endeavor (C. O. M. E.) to help low-income families apply for funds for utility bills.

So many people signed up for the program, and the C. O. M. E. Center has such a small staff, it needed help interviewing people and completing applications. The Sociology Club came to their rescue.

The club helped the Center and the United Way register families, and Walker County made such effective use of the grant monies that more funds were made available and the application process repeated. Club members went out for a second day of interviews and applications.

Other club activities have included Population Awareness Day, a Good Shepherd Mission food drive to support the Huntsville SAAFE House, and the Homesteaders project to help low-income families build their own homes.

Another example of the good old-fashioned out-of-the-classroom service was the entire university's effort last year to aid hurricane victims.

Last month the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll was released, with a focus on hurricane relief efforts, and Sam Houston State University was on the list.

SHSU was one of only 11 Texas senior colleges or universities so honored, only four of which are public. Not all of those named were involved in hurricane relief.

Then there is service learning--the new approach to service by education institutions from kindergarten to college. The big difference between it and what an organization like the Sociology Club does is that service learning, according to one definition, "provide(s) structured time for a young person to think, talk, and write about what he/she learned during the actual service activity."

That means it is done as part of a class.

Miller has also used service learning activities in classes, and has surveyed students on how they feel about service-learning.

"They were real receptive," she said.

Joyce McCauley has chaired the American Democracy Project Steering Committee since its inception at Sam Houston State in the spring of 2004. She complimented all those at SHSU who contribute their service to the multitude or worthy causes, whether it be part of a class or not.

"All service is great," she said. "Studies have shown that service projects that are integrated into course objectives, with the added element of reflection, are especially powerful in helping students connect what they are learning within the walls of the university classroom to real world issues.

"Those faculty members who have implemented these types of projects are amazed at the increased motivation and deeper understanding of the subject matter. The university heartily supports such efforts, and we hope more faculty members will continue to join this movement."

Sam Houston State University is a member of the Texas State University System