Friday, August 9, 2013

Back to School: Award-Winning Community Service Program

My bragging marathon about the Appalachian School of Law continues.

Award-Winning Community Service Program

ASL has twice won the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. In 2007, it was one of six recipients to win it.

The sponsors of the Honor Roll include the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation, the Department of Education, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, USA Freedom Corps., and the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Selection factors include the scope and innovative nature of the program, percentage of student participation in service activities, incentives for service, and the extent to which the school offers academic service-learning courses.

Emphasis on Serving the Community

Since the founding of the Appalachian School of Law, students have provided over 100,000 hours of community service.  

The founders of ASL made community service one of the three focuses of the school.  ASL seeks to develop professionals who will serve as community leaders and community advocates in their legal careers and personal lives. ASL’s commitment to service separates ASL from most other law schools in this country. 

ASL places an extremely high community service expectation on its students.  It requires each student to complete twenty-five hours of community service each semester, for a total of 150 hours over three years.

Service activities:
  • Improve student organizations
  • Benefit the community
  • Build a tradition of service in the profession
  • Strengthen the reputation of school, and
  • Can be great way to take a break from studying and interact with the faculty outside of the classroom.

Wide Range of Projects

ASL embraces a broad notion of community service, which encompasses non-legal and legal work. Students may volunteer with one of about seventy school-sponsored community service projects.  Students may also develop and propose a project of their own within certain guidelines established by the school.  




Approved projects include:
  • Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for abused and neglected children
  • Knitting Circle making blankets for CASA-kids.
  • Remote Area Medical (RAM) Volunteer Corps
  • Research supporting the development of the Great Eastern and Spearhead Trails located in Buchanan County
  • ASL Cares pet adoption and fostering program; assists local
    shelter in providing services to animals
  • ASL Recycles
  • Grun DMC (jug band) performs at local nursing home.
  • Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) project assisting low income tax-filers
  • ASL Campus Beautification project
  • Grundy Lion’s Club
  • Grade school tutors
  • Breaks Interstate Park maintenance
  • Buchanan General Hospital’s Information Desk
  • Commonwealth Attorney’s Office
  • Boys and Girls Club
  • Volunteer firemen
  • Voter registration drive
  • Elk restoration project

Recognition During ASL's Awards Banquet

The Appalachian School of Law recognizes outstanding community service during its Awards Banquet. The program Director, Jina Sauls, presents the Sam Weddington Little Red Wagon service award annually to a law student who embodies the spirit of the community service program, demonstrates a desire to accomplish the goals of a project, performs duties with an energetic and positive attitude, and provides feedback on ways to improve services within the community.

The Sam Weddington Little Red Wagon award derives its name from an elderly, poverty-stricken gentleman who donated a handmade red wagon to ASL a few years ago. He had heard that ASL “gave a lot back to the community” and asked that ASL provide the wagon to a deserving child.

In 2005, the Director also implemented the “Willard Owens Award for Excellence in Community Service.” She presents this award annually to all third-year students with 300 or more hours of community service. In other words, it recognizes students who have exceeded their community service requirement by 100 percent. Typically, 10 to 15 percent of the students in each graduating class earn the award.

ASL named the award after the late Mayor of Grundy, Willard Owens, who provided dedicated service to the residents of Buchanan County.

Alumni Continue Tradition of Community Service

As the founders of the Appalachian School of Law predicted, its graduates continue the tradition of providing community service.  Fifty-two percent of alumni reported that the community service requirement at ASL contributed to their interest in providing community service.

Alumni report the following community service activities, roles, or positions:

  • Habitat for Humanity 
  • PTA
  • Junior League 
  • City Democratic Committee 
  • Landcaster Mediation Center 
  • Boyertown Choral Association 
  • Laurel Mountain Ministries 
  • East Carolina University Educational Foundation 
  • Rotary Club 
  • Appalachian Reading Center 
  • Ronald McDonald House 
  • Domestic Violence Council 
  • Basketball coach 
  • Girl Scouts
  • King Charles Neighborhood Task Force 
  • Raleigh Charter High School Mock Trial Program 
  • Tri-Cities Christian Schools Foundation
  • ASL Alumni Association
  • Secretary of ASL Alumni Board, and 
  • ASL Board of Trustees.

Alumni responding to the survey, most of whom graduated within the last five years, also reported that they held the following lawyer-related leadership positions:

  • Delegate, ABA Young Lawyers Division 
  • Co-chair, ABA Young Lawyers Division Law School Council 
  • Co-chair, ABA Law-Related Education Committee’s Subcommittee on Mock Trials and Student Education 
  • South Carolina Delegate to ABA Young Lawyer’s Division 
  • Chair of South Carolina Bar Convention Committee 
  • Co-chair of the South Carolina Cinderella Project 
  • President of the local bar association 
  • Vice-president of the local bar association, and 
  • Secretary of the local bar association. 

A number of graduates also provide government service, several at very high levels:
  • One state legislator (2011 grad)
  • Five state court judges (2002-2009 grads)
  • Four judicial clerks (2007-2012 grads)
  • Six Commonwealth Attorneys (2000-2008 grads)
  • Four in the Judge Advocates General Corps (2003-2011 grads)
  • One in the federal government (Soc. Sec. Adm.) (2005 grad), and
  • Three in state government (2004-2006 grads)

We are very proud of a program that makes Appalachian School of Law unique among law schools.  It shows that even our co-curricular activities tie to the central mission of the school, which I described in an earlier posting.

For more information, contact Jina Sauls, Director of the program, at 276-935-4349.  More information also appears here.

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