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Best Practice Buzz

Page history last edited by Josh Blair 7 years, 4 months ago

Get the scoop on the latest great ideas from around the network


The Buzz

Each year schools are asked to describe a "Best Practice" they implemented during the previous school year.  Here are some of the Best Practices for the 2012-2013 academic year.  Feel free to continue sharing Best Practices!


  • Reflection Best Practices 
    • Emory & Henry College-  At Emory & Henry we have begun to utilize this site-based model, creating student service-site leaders.  We have also piloted student reflection leaders. Two Bonners from each class were chosen to lead their class meetings, issue meetings, and help with developing journal prompts.  They met regularly as a group of reflection leaders, with the Bonner Senior Interns and with the Bonner Coordinator.  Additionally, they were required to arrive on campus early to attend a reflection training day and assist with Bonner First-Year Orientation.  This new model created more rich discussions at meetings around local, national, global issues.  Students began making more connections between and among their service sites, classes, and personal experiences.  When asked why these conversations were richer, students commented that having a peer lead discussion allowed them to feel more comfortable and motivated to express themselves.
    • Pfieffer University- Incorporated more reflection: Part of their direct service with community partner sites involves a reflection on the students’ part on why and how they serve others. A portion of this reflection is expected to happen through the site itself through orientation and training before they start their service as well as in the evaluation process at the end of their term. Other reflection activities happen through their terms during monthly meetings and during Friday/Saturday/Sunday of Service projects, where students reflect on the greater question of “Why do we serve?” and more specific project- or site-related questions to inspire deeper thought, such as exploring the importance of having a declared residence in today’s society. Asking students to reflect not only on how they serve but why can give them a better understanding of how to meet the actual needs of people instead of dictating those needs to them, an important lesson for a servant leader. It has been challenging to ensure that meaningful reflection goes on for each project and at each site, depending on the kind of service that is performed or how much the site supervisor and Bonner member interact.


  • what is your campus doing that is interesting and effective in terms of reflections?


  • Service Trips  
    • Ursinus College- Spring service trip to Jamaica.  This trip has now occurred for four consecutive years and is funded in part by the generosity of an alumna with a passion for international service.  This trip is seven or eight days.  Our work in Jamaica typically consists of building and painting projects.  Over the course of four years, UC Bonner has made an impact on the small rural communities of Beeston Spring and Whitehouse, Jamaica.  Months in advance of our trip, we coordinate with the pastor and community leader of the area to identify worksites to address the most pressing needs of the community.  
  • what kinds of service trips is your program taking?



  • BWBRS Management 
    • how does your campus program manage BWBRS? share your best practices (like processes, forms, requirements, and more) here!


  • Issue-Based Trainings 
    • Washington and Lee-  Working closely with Nabors Service League Advisor and Campus Kitchen Coordinator, Jenny Davidson, they re-developed impact area groups around areas in which there had already been considerable academic and/or co-curricular work completed by students. They formed groups with student leaders around Health and Prevention, Local Foods and Hunger, and College Access. Each of these topics had either been recently explored by an academic community-based research piece, or had, in the case of the College Access Group, built strong community support and connections in the previous year. We worked with students to create a standard curriculum on which students could build their groups to include faculty, staff, community partners, and other community members from both on campus and off.
    • Morehouse College- “Issue-based Projects”.  The leadership team, which includes the Program Manager, Program Coordinator, Bonner Senior Intern(s), Class Coordinators and Issue-Based Leaders, develop the concept of requiring each of our four issue-based teams to develop an annual project.  The leadership team felt that this practice will provide an additional way for the issue-based teams to become more cohesive as well as provide projects that will raise awareness about the issues in the larger Morehouse College community. The development of the issue-based project also enhanced the focus of the bi-monthly issue based meeting and provided the teams with a concrete project that integrated the direct and indirect service from the various community partner placements. In addition, the issue-based project provided the Bonner Scholars with another opportunity to practice and implement their leadership skills. 
    • Rhodes College- Linking Bonner programming with wider campus events to connect all Rhodes students in issue-based, regional dialogue.  Bonner Scholars are required to attend between 3 and 5 Issue Based Forums each semester.  These events are free and open to the public, and feature our community partners from our high impact initiative talking in the round with students about issues of regional significance.  
    • Rutgers University- New Brunswick- Initiated an issue focus that would attract students who share that passion for a particular issue which also mirrors the AmeriCorps service priorities, for example Food Security, ESL, and College Access.  Examples of the presentations, included: “Why the Farm Bill is relevant to us?” by the Food Security Team and the College Access team showed a short documentary on one of the undocumented students in the Empower program followed by a talk by that student regarding the Dream Act.  In addition, they created a Public Service announcement to be played on the college radio stations highlighting educational disparities and the importance of mentoring.  Knowing that the presentations were going to be seen by a wider audience beyond their fellow Bonners made their work more meaningful and relevant.
    • how does your campus program educate Bonners on issues? share your best practices here!


  • Bonner Program Summer Intern Positions 
    • what kinds of summer interns does your program have during the summer? share your best position descriptions (like senior intern, summer intern, and community impact intern) and activities (like planning first-year orientation) here!


  • Bonner Recruitment 
    • College of Saint Benedict-  In the past year, the CSB/SJU Bonner Leader Program greatly improved the recruitment process for incoming students. In coordination with the Admissions Program, the Bonner Leader Program is now strategically advertised to all CSB/SJU applicants. In addition, all admissions representatives are trained in the requirements for the Bonner Leader Program and receive guidance on the types of students that are good fits for the program. When meeting with prospective students, admissions representatives now have the option to designate them as a recommended Bonner candidate on their software program. This information is then shared with the Bonner Coordinator who is able to connect with these students directly to invite them to apply. These increased efforts led to a record 97 Bonner applicants this year. The candidate pool was then narrowed down to about 40 applicants. Those out-of-state prospective students participating in the fly-in program were interviewed during their campus visit. All other candidates were invited to an interview day with their families. Candidates were given a presentation on the Bonner Program and had the opportunity to listen to a student panel. They also spent the morning with current Bonner Leaders and had the opportunity to learn more about the program from the students themselves. After the morning program, students participated in small group interviews. This program day helps prospective students learn more about the program and have a full understanding of the commitment that is needed to participate in the Bonner Leader Program. It also allows them to begin forming friendships with current Bonners in preparation for the coming year. We have received very positive feedback from students and their families regarding the recruitment process and interview day. Future considerations for the recruitment process include inviting Bonner alums to the interview day, personal phone calls to applicants from current Bonner Leaders, and specialized sessions for out-of-state fly-in students.
    • Mars Hill College- During the 12-13 year we established a new Bonner interview day selection process.  Potential Bonners were contacted during the fall – every individual who had applied for Fall 2013 acceptance that met our eligibility requirements were notified about the Bonner Scholars Program and were invited to apply.  In January applications were reviewed and invitations to the interview day were sent to approximately 50 individuals.  The interview day took place during the afternoon of our winter Accepted Student Day.  Potential Bonners were able to attend the Accepted Student event and learn more about Mars Hill College.  Then their afternoon was spent rotating through an individual interview, a group process, and an info/Q&A session with current Bonners.   Individual interviews consisted of the Bonner applicant being interviewed by a panel of 2-3 current Bonners and a faculty/staff member involved with the Bonner program.  Faculty and staff were invited to participate based on LifeWorks staffs’ estimation of their understanding and commitment to the Bonner Program.  Faculty and staff outside of the department were excited to participate in the interview.  All Bonners were invited to participate in the interviews and nearly every Bonner accepted the invitation.  Bonners were also enthusiastic about being able to have input on who would become a Bonner.  The group process was run by three senior Bonners.  Bonner candidates were placed in small groups to work on an activity where their ability to work in teams and their openness to others’ ideas were evaluated.  Lastly, a diverse panel of Bonners discussed their Bonner experiences, Bonner challenges and opportunities, and how the Bonner program had benefited their undergraduate experience.  Panelists answered questions from the Bonner candidates.  Bonner staff was able to select a high-quality group of new Bonners with the intention of creating a first-year team that is diverse, open to learning, and committed to service.  Selection was completed before spring break.  The Admissions Office was thrilled with our process as we provided a financial aid package and asked for commitment to Mars Hill much earlier than in previous years.  
    • Widener University-  The 2013 recruitment event included an opening session with remarks from President Harris followed by four 30-minute rotations that were tailored to both students and parents. The new format ensured that perspective students and their parents garnered a greater understanding of the program in addition to providing Widener with a better idea of the perspective students and their opportunity for success in the PSC/Bonner program.  Interviewers met with a maximum of eight students, giving them a greater understanding of the pool than in prior years where they only interviewed four. Changing the recruitment event required collaboration between a variety of other offices and departments on campus.   The Admissions Office played a major role in sending correspondence in the form of invitations to prospective students and providing information as to student diversity and financial need. The PSC/Bonner program through the Office of Civic Engagement sponsored the event.  The Office of Civic Engagement also provided the communication with the Division of Student Affairs and the Oskin Leadership Institute to secure speakers, panelists, and workshop facilitators.


  • how does your campus program recruit and admit Bonners? share your best practices (like processes, forms, requirements, and more) here!


  • Senior Presentations of Learning  
    • University of RichmondPresentations of Learning (POLs) are the capstone reflection of civically engaged seniors. They are important to our Center because they provide critical data pertaining to what our most engaged seniors learned during their yearse of college, give our seniors a chance to share their narrative and learning in a celebrative environment, and showcase our Center’s work publically.  This year, BCCE staff examined past iterations of POLs and collaborated to create a new version of POLs. The format was altered so that a larger audience could attend the presentations now gruoped by social issue area; student preparation was deepened as BCCE staff provided critical written feed on seniors’ POL write-ups to enhance their presentations; and the content was aligned with student learning outcomes so that students discussed their learning in measurable and creative ways.


  • how does your campus program implement the Senior Presentations of Learning (POLs) or other senior celebrations? share your best practices here!


  • "Bonner Week" Events 
    • does a "Bonner Week" or similar series of events happen on your campus? share your best practices here!


  • Spring Break Trips 
    • what trips happen on your campus? add your service trip details to our service trips page! (or detail them here)


  • Common Commitments 
    • how do you integrate the CCs into your program? add your best practice here!



  •  Community Partnerships 
    • Edgewood College- Increase the intentionality through which students become involved in capacity building with community organizations. Students in site teams are asked in their second semester to identify a capacity building project that they can plan and implement with their community partner.
    • In what way is your campus strengthening your community partnerships?  


  • MLK Day of Service 
    •  What is your campus community doing for MLK Day? Add your best practice here!   


  • Winter Service Trips  
    • what winter service trips happen through your campus? it can be an alternative break trip, first year trip, sophomore exchange, or other service experience. add your best practice here!  


  • Social Media & Program Management 
    • how do you integrate social media into your program's management? add your best practice here! 



  • Hunger/Homelessness Programming 
    • how do you integrate Hunger & Homelessness Issues into your program? add your best practice here! 



  • Sophomore Exchange 
    • how do you do the Sophomore Exchange with your program? add your best practice here! 


  • Student Leadership 
    • Allegheny College- The first is a model of student leadership where upper class Bonner students work to co-facilitate trainings. We have found that in giving students small opportunities for leadership practice beginning in the First Year, we build the expectation for peer leadership in our program developmentally for four years. These leadership opportunities are also unique in light of our Program’s hybrid model. Regardless of how and in what program a student enters the Allegheny Bonner Program, there are immediately opportunities to lead and learn to lead through service.  Allegheny Best Practices Link Here.
    • Berea College-Team-Based Cascading Leadership Development: An organizational structure that facilitates student learning and community service.  
    • Christopher Newport University- Using student leaders “Track Coordinators” to help organize and train the high volume of students around site-based teams within one of our ten Service Tracks.
    • Macalester College- Provides students entering their second year an opportunity to apply to be a part of the student staff.  Attached is their application for this process.  Best Practice Positions - Attachments.pdf 
    • Waynesburg College- The role of the Senior Intern has been an integral part of the student leadership within the Bonner Program, this year they would like to transition to having Senior Interns take on a more visible leadership role outside of their Bonner Program on campus.  
    • Berry College-  Student Leadership team comprised of the two senior interns, the two peer counselors, two representatives from each Bonner class, two Bonner Congress Representatives, two Peer Counselors, and other ad hoc positions.  The Leadership Team is facilitated by a senior intern.   The team works to create, update, and distribute weekly newsletter; Plan Alternative Fall and Spring Break trips, Care Committee: correspond with Bonners (birthday cards, condolences, care packages at exam times), Community Fund Committee: review all Community Fund requests and make recommendations to Bonner Coordinator, Community Partner Liaisons, Special events (Georgia Bonner Conference, Interview Day, Discover Berry admissions preview days) 



  • Bonner 101 
  • Central Washington University- Individual attention and advocacy for Bonner Members. Central Washington Univ Best Practice Sharing.docx 
  • University of Louisville- The Bonner Tracking Sheet was developed to assist the leadership team in monitoring the completion of required paperwork, monitor progress, and maintain regular contact with Bonner Leaders. The tracking sheet quickly identifies what has been completed and what needs to be addressed at a glance. The tracking sheet is kept as the first page in each file. The tracking sheet is initiated with the enrollment of a new Bonner Leader. It is updated with each Bonner contact and checked at least on a monthly basis by the Coordinator and Senior Interns. The tracking sheet is monitored thorough the Bonner’s exit. University of Louisville Bonner Tracking Sheet.docx
  • DePauw University-   Fall 2012, one week into classes, junior Bonners attended the Junior Recommitment Program.  (This program was inspired by the Recommitment Ceremony Earlham Bonners participate in during the end of their sophomore year.)  We asked Bonners to consider what they’ve already accomplished in the first two years, what they want to accomplish in the two years remaining, and what their 5 year goals are.  These questions were then the framework for the fall and spring one-on-one advising meetings with staff.  The staff and each student then came up with ways Bonner could help meet those goals. During the Junior Recommitment Program, juniors were asked to brainstorm what they thought their legacy for the other Bonners would be.  These ideas were then further developed in a Class Meeting and used to lead the Fall Retreat in September, led by the entire junior class. The junior Bonner Recommitment enabled students to create ambitious and attainable goals.   The junior class leadership of the Fall Retreat set up the juniors as mentors for the Bonner first-years and sophomores.  It also helped the junior Bonners think critically about the value of Bonner and how to leverage the program for their success and the success of their peers.  The outcomes of the Junior Recommitment will continue to be assessed through the class’ senior year.




  • Orientation and Meetings 
    • Burlington County College- Team Retreats: a series of three structured retreats that brings together the Corps while enhancing training and enrichment activities throughout the program year.   
    • Lindsey Wilson College- Bonner Orientation gives new leaders an opportunity to learn about program structure and expectations while building trust and communication within the group. They also have an opportunity to team build with returning Bonners as they participate in the second half of orientation alongside the new Bonner Scholars.  This orientation takes place on Lindsey Wilson College’s campus prior to Freshman Move-In in August.  There is an additional community emersion component through our Columbia Scavenger Hunt in which students have an opportunity to explore their new home, visit community partners, and team build with new/returning Bonner Scholars.   Best Practice Submission.docx
    • University of Dayton-  Immersion Experience into the City of Dayton Community:  Incorporated as part of Orientation, Semester of Service includes an immersion experience in the City of Dayton.  This takes place after students have talked about issues in a more general way, took part in a driving tour of Dayton’s neighborhoods, took part in site visits to service sites, and engaged with community members in a transitional housing program about substance abuse issues.  Students are given resources to set the context and prepare.  Students are given two dollars for spending, and one bus token for a mandatory bus ride.  Students leave their comfort zones and face new experiences in a natural setting.  Students are paired together and have some supports available.  The experience is time limited and students return for debriefing and discussion.  A Community Awareness Survey is used to assess the level of awareness gained through the Semester of Service experience. 
    • Young Harris College-  Training and Enrichment opportunities improved through weekly meetings and other events that were offered to the Bonner Leaders. They held weekly meetings, rotating through all group meetings and specific year meetings. This format allowed for both large and small group opportunities, and honored the different developmental stages of each of the different years.

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