Often referred to as a “service guru,” Carolyn Dallinger ‘80 has consistently integrated service learning into her courses since she started teaching at Simpson seven years ago.
“I’ve been out in the world,” said Dallinger, a former social worker and lawyer. “It made sense to me to get students out in the world as much as possible too.”
For the last four years, Dallinger has taken her Juvenile and Family Law classes to Des Moines middle schools every other week to help seventh graders understand and manage bullying. Her college students research Iowa’s anti-bullying law, then pair up with the younger students to talk about issues that come up in school.
Of her students’ impact on the middle school students, Dallinger said: “They just blossom. They shine. No one would want to go back to junior high.”
Dallinger also coordinates schedules for her Introduction to Sociology students to allow them to work with English language learners in Des Moines’ Garton Elementary School. It’s a mentoring program centered on cultural differences during which students interact, read and play games with the kids.
“It’s like a living laboratory for them,” she said. “The one-on-one interaction with people will help break barriers more than anything.”
Dallinger also requires her Social Welfare and Politics students to serve three meals at any shelter they choose. They often ride on the Religious Life Community vans that go to Des Moines every week for that purpose.
Even in her history-based course, Dallinger is able to give her students a bold taste of reality. After researching and studying the forced removal of the Cherokee Indians by the U.S. government in the 1800s, Dallinger took her first-year colloquium students on a Fall Break trip from Georgia to Oklahoma by way of the Cherokee Indians’ Trail of Tears, a National Historical Trail.
“I’m a product of Simpson,” Dallinger said proudly. “I’m drawn to any social injustice. I blame Simpson for that.”