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We are pleased to share a new tool for service-learning. Next Steps: A School District's Guide to the Essential Elements of Service-Learning is an excellent guide for state level or school district administrators as they create or improve their service-learning program, regardless of their previous experience in service-learning. Students make a tremendous difference in their schools and communities when they are given the opportunity to use their enthusiasm, energy and ideas to problem solve and contribute to the common good.

Maryland was the first state to require that all students participate in service-learning to graduate from public high school. Educators and community leaders agreed that service-learning allowed students to use knowledge and skills learned in the classroom to meet the needs of their communities. They also found service-learning to be a highly effective teaching method, allowing students to demonstrate classroom learning in an authentic setting.

Since 1992 when we began this educational reform, Maryland's 24 school districts have used Next Steps to strategically plan to strengthen district level infrastructure in order to support quality service-learning experiences for our learners. The experience of creating and revising the delivery of our service-learning programs make our state a leader in the field of service-learning. We are confident that you will benefit from the lessons we have learned. We want to thank the service-learning leaders from around Maryland and across the nation who worked with the Maryland Student Service Alliance to develop this document.

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