The seeds for the idea of a national K-12 service learning initiative were planted in 2000, when author Sandy McKane’s then 5-year-old daughter started wrapping coins with her grandfather, and then donated that money to a local charity. As time went on, her daughter, Charlotte, expanded her giving, gained supporters, and in 2003 started tracking donations, which totaled $1,457 for the year. By the following year, donations had risen to $5,864, and New York State Senator Seward had presented McKane’s daughter with a commendation from the New York State Senate.
Inspired by the progression of learning that she was witnessing in her daughter at such a young age, McKane began exploring service learning possibilities beyond the scope of her own daughter’s contributions. She developed a first year seminar – The Human Spirit in Action: Service Learning – at Hartwick College in upstate New York, where she was chair of the music department. Over several years, the students in her seminar developed and implemented a program called Food2Share – an ongoing, self-sustaining system to address food insecurity in local communities.
McKane then went on to establish the Oneonta Service Learning Project, creating workshops for local elementary teachers to develop service learning projects for their students. She also presented at a number of service learning conferences, covering topics that addressed gathering projects from national resources and developing service learning projects for very young children.
In 2004, McKane was the recipient of a Learn & Serve mini-grant to support the development of early-grade service learning projects. In 2005 she received a Special Legislative Education Grant from Senator Seward’s office to further the development of the Oneonta Service Learning Project.
In 2006 the author left her position as chair of the music department and dedicated herself to developing the framework for a K-12 service learning initiative that could be rolled-out nationwide. This book is the culmination of her work toward that end.
Sandy lives in upstate New York with her husband Tim, her daughter Charlotte, and their two dogs, Isabella and Oscar. When not working on the service initiative or at the piano, Sandy can be found in her garden, knitting, making jewelry, or taking weekend trips into Manhattan to visit her older daughter, Genevieve.