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ETSU marks 15 years of service-learning

Wednesday, October 15, 2008JOHNSON CITY—Of the more than 13,000 students enrolled at East Tennessee State University, some 3,000 participated in organized service to others during the past year. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the service-learning program at ETSU, and countless hours have been devoted to community projects.

One of the first volunteer initiatives offered by the university, America Reads Challenge Program, demonstrates the growth of service-learning at ETSU. Currently, 51 tutors, double the number who participated last year, assist in 32 elementary schools and other sites.

America Reads is a national effort to encourage all children to read. ETSU student volunteers meet twice a month for tutor training, and they acquire skills, information, and suggestions to take with them as they go out into the community.

In addition, tutors raise funds for special projects, such as Bingo for Books held earlier this year with Coalition for Kids, a faith-based, non-profit agency providing an afterschool program. Tutors dressed as the “Cat in the Hat,” “Thing 1,” and “Thing 2,” characters from the Dr. Seuss book The Cat in the Hat, which is a book the ETSU students read to the children at the beginning of the event.

In addition to craft activities at the event, the children worked at a “literacy table” with magnetic letters, flashcards, and puzzles. Each child played bingo and went home with their prizes — two new books, courtesy of donations from ETSU First Book and the Washington County Imagination Library.

For more information about this and other ETSU service-learning programs, contact Teresa Brooks-Taylor, assistant director of the ETSU Center for Community Engagement, Learning and Leadership, at (423) 439-8218 or


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