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Service + Learning for Educational Distinction (SLED) at New Mexico State University (NMSU) College

Issue: Access to Higher Education / Closing the Achievement Gap

Grant Amount: 25,000.00
Las Cruces, NM
Year Funded: 2011

Contact Information

Denise Rodriguez-Strawn
Field Experience, Co-op, and Service Learning Programs Coordinator

The SLED service learning project at New Mexico State University (NMSU,) originally developed in partnership with University of New Mexico (UNM) and Central New Mexico Community College, puts undergraduate education majors into the Las Cruces Public School (LCPS) district to provide significant one-on-one tutoring and mentoring to K-12 students to build English, math, and science skills.  The program provides tutoring in reading, writing and also STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) subjects.  Mentoring is also a vital component of the program. Per semester, SLED trains and puts into the public schools, 168 NMSU undergraduate education majors,  works with 168 LCPS teachers, and provides over 8,000 hours of one-on-one tutoring to area children and youth.

The SLED program very clearly addresses the issue of Access to Higher Education/Closing the Achievement Gap by involving both university students (many of whom are from southern New Mexico and reflect the demographic of the area) and K-12 students in a partnership to tackle gaining skills needed for success in school—both at the k-12 and at the university level.  The beauty of this program is that it improves educational outcomes both for the undergraduate NMSU students who participate and the K-12 students served. The K-12 students referred to the program are, furthermore, usually those who need extra help to keep up and succeed at grade level.  In raising their test scores, the program is demonstrating its positive impact on their performance and, in targeting the neediest students, taking concrete steps to close the achievement gap and increase access to higher education.

Project Updates

Feeding the HEARTS de la FAMILIA

A service learning faculty member establish a service learning project where NMSU students would collaborate with an 8th grade middle school student to create a project that would benefir local LCPS school children. Ove the course of the fall 2011 semester, the students created a professional brochure to raise funds to assist local children by providing a holidays meal, which each student was selescted by the school counselor. By the end of the project, a 501(C) non-profit was created, Fedding the HEARTS de la FAMILIA.

SLED Program expansion

The NMSU SLED program was able to expand into Mayfield High School, J. Paul Taylor Academy, and Highland Elementary School in the fall 2011 semester. This expansion allowed more than 20 classrooms to be added to our list of Las Cruces Public School students that would be eligible to received much needed and free tutoring services during school hours.

SLED Program Expansion,part 2

The NMSU SLED program was able to expand into Gadsden ISD and White Sands Elementary School in the spring 2012 semester. This expansion allowed more than 8 classrooms to be added to our list of Las Cruces Public School students that would be eligible to received much needed and free tutoring services during school hours. The work in Gadsden is at Loma Linda Elementary school, which is piloting our undergraduate & graduate program.

SLED Mentoring

Spring 2012, the SLED is introducing mentoring as a component by providing tutors with training, as well as guided reflection classes that will strengthen his or her mentoring skills. At the same time the NMSU student is being being mentored by the classroom teachers and provided feedback in order to stregnthen the mentor/mentee relationship between the NMSU Tutors and LCPS Tutee; creating a positive learning environment for all involved.


In the Spring 2012, the SLED Office has piloted TILT (Teacher Instructing Literacy throught Technology) with 3 local elementary schools. Project TILT Purpose: Common Core State Standards (CCSS) being adopted by the New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED), which would allow me to combine technology and literacy into classroom. Increase awareness and interest in the importance of literacy by working with the Children’s Reading Foundation of Dona  Ana County and Las Cruces Public Schools.

Project TILT Goal: Incorporate Kindles into 2nd – 5th grade classrooms to: 1. Cost Reduction (e-books are a fraction of the cost compared to paperback/hard cover books); 2. Update classroom libraries/replace out-of-date classroom libraries; 3. Increase the classroom space to meet the needs of growing class sizes 4. Engage students; 5. Increase reading scores. 6. Increase awareness of Thinkfinity®, which would give the teachers another resource to adapt into the classrooms in Las Cruces Pubic Schools.

The SLED Office has logged a total of 4976.16 hours of mentoring and tutoring with K-12 grade students in the local community. Thanks to the YAB funding, we have successfully established a program that teacher our NMSU Service Learning students the importance of mentoring, as well as provided the college mentors with training that has enhanced the field experience in particular courses that we offer.

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