In 2012 Smith College was named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll by the Corporation for National and Community Service. The Honor Roll recognizes higher education institutions that reflect the values of exemplary community service and achieve meaningful outcomes in their communities. Smith’s Center for Community Collaboration (CCC) hosts community members who are invited to develop projects of mutual interest with the Smith community. In 2011–12, the CCC worked with teachers and counselors from the John F. Kennedy Middle School and the Northampton High School (NHS) as part of a project funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to promote the health and wellness of Northampton’s youth. The project resulted in a peer-education program at NHS; a summer adventure and leadership institute for at-risk students; and community lectures and symposia that have reached more than 800 teachers, parents and students. Students and faculty from Smith’s psychology department have also helped launch a community-based research project exploring alcohol-based risk behavior in the local youth community.
In 2011–12, 124 area high school students took 155 courses (valued at $771,900) at no cost to the students or their parents. Since 1990, 1,440 area high school students have taken 1,670 courses at Smith.
The college’s financial education center brings Smith students into local middle and high schools to team-teach financial planning modules on budgeting, saving and investing basics; calculating simple versus compound interest; and understanding the financial benefits of higher education over a lifetime. Since 2002 Smith students have led such workshops at John F. Kennedy Middle School and Northampton High School, as well as at high schools, middle schools and centers for teenagers in Amherst, Granby, Greenfield, Holyoke and Springfield.
These monthly free art experiences for all ages each attract more than 300 visitors (3,600+ annually), from 4 to 8 p.m. The events feature “Hands-on!” art-making activities for children ages 4 and above, accompanied by adults, as well as brief “Open Eyes” informal public gallery conversations focusing on the museum’s collection and special changing exhibitions. These discussions, led by museum education staff, are based on the highly regarded approach to increasing visual literacy known as Visual Thinking Strategies. Several times each year, Second Fridays also include exhibition lectures by faculty or other experts and catered refreshments.
More than 2,500 elementary and secondary school students visited the museum in 2011–12, including hundreds from the Northampton public schools. SCMA offers free admission to all school groups and bus subsidies to defray school transportation costs. Teachers who reserve a tour can receive a free admission pass to plan their visit in advance. Lesson plan ideas are also available on the museum’s website. In addition, each year approximately 100 teachers (most from Hampshire and Hampden counties) attend professional development programs offered by the museum’s education department.
More than one thousand parents, guardians and children participated in the museum’s two free Family Days in 2011–12, with program materials offered in Spanish and English.
Open year-round, six days per week (Tuesday–Sunday) and closed only on Mondays and major holidays, the museum is committed to providing broad access to its collections, exhibitions and programs. Museum admission is waived for all visitors on more than 20 days each year, including Second Fridays, Family Days, Smith Family Weekend and Smith Commencement and Reunion Weekends. Free admission is also offered to active-duty service personnel and their families from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
Free access to the museum is available to public library cardholders at many local and regional libraries via the SCMA Library Pass Partners Program that was greatly expanded in 2011–12 (link http://www.smith.edu/artmuseum/Visit/Planning-a-Visit/Library-Pass-Program). Libraries may purchase passes through the museum’s Membership Office: firstname.lastname@example.org or (413) 585-2777. The SCMA Library Pass Partners Program provides essential support for the museum, directly benefiting SCMA’s exhibitions and public programs.
The Botanic Garden of Smith College is open to the public and serves as a living museum, showcasing plants native to New England and other ecosystems around the world. Its goals are education, research, display and conservation. The garden features the Lyman Conservatory and Church Exhibition Gallery, the campus arboretum and a variety of specialty gardens, totaling more than 7,000 labeled and mapped plants.
Free guided tours (given to more than 1,800 students each year) and bus subsidies, funded by the Friends of the Botanic Garden, are offered to local school groups. General tours of the Lyman Conservatory, the exhibition gallery, and the outdoor gardens and arboretum can be tailored to complement classroom study. Tours are free for local groups and nonprofit organizations. Local community members participate in an intensive volunteer training program and serve as tour guides. Audio tours of the Lyman Conservatory are available for $1.
Two seasonal floral displays are held annually in the Lyman Conservatory: the Spring Bulb Show and the Fall Chrysanthemum Show. The Church Exhibition Gallery offers changing educational exhibitions (for information on the current exhibit see http://www.smith.edu/garden/exhibits/ exhibitions.html). The Woods of the World Display is a permanent installation of 178 different kinds of wood, with information about each wood’s characteristics and the formation of grain patterns.
The Smith campus is an arboretum, featuring more than 1,100 woody trees and shrubs. Specialty gardens include the Systematics Garden (where plants are arranged by family); Rock Garden; Perennial Border; President’s Residence Garden; Wildflower and Woodland Garden; Japanese Garden for Reflection and Contemplation; and Capen Garden, designed as a series of outdoor garden rooms, including a rose arbor, formal knot, color garden and perennial display.
As part of their annual community outreach activities, the Smith Chapter of the Society of Women Engineers sponsored Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day (IGTED). This is part of a nationwide engineering outreach to girls, supported by the National Engineers Week Foundation: http://www.eweek.org/engineersweek/Introduce.aspx.
IGTED brings girls in grades 4 through 8 to the Smith campus for workshops that introduce basic engineering and design concepts, such as structural design, materials selection, fluid dynamics, chemical engineering, rapid prototyping and electronics. The event allowed girls to interact with female engineering students and conduct experiments, with locally purchased supplies, in a college engineering laboratory. New this year, students from seven local middle schools focused on a single, more sophisticated activity, allowing them to drill deeper into theory and practice.
In 2011–12 five engineering students collaborated on a project to design a bike spur to link the Norwottuck Rail Trail with the Hotel Bridge in Leeds. The students worked closely with Northampton’s Office of Planning and Development and Department of Public Works, and the Leeds Civic Association. The team generated and evaluated several conceptual design options and prepared an initial cost estimate for the recommended design.
About 20 to 30 graduate and undergraduate student interns complete their student teaching practica in Northampton public school classrooms each year. The teachers who serve as mentors receive a stipend, are entitled to take a course at Smith (which would normally cost $5,160) and are granted Smith library privileges. Many Northampton public school teachers have completed graduate work at Smith. Each year, as part of their coursework, some 100 Smith students serve as tutors in Northampton schools and as mentors and tutors in a variety of high school and middle school programs. Faculty members from the college’s education and child study department and teachers from the Smith College Campus School regularly engage in professional development work with Northampton teachers.
Thirteen master’s-level Smith College School for Social Work (SSW) students are interning in Northampton. Two SSW students serve as interns at John F. Kennedy Middle School, providing approximately 700 student contacts each year in addition to their work with educators and administrators. Since 2005 the interns have supported a schoolwide focus on increasing parental communication and contact with teachers and administrators. Additionally, students serve as interns at the Northampton Veteran’s Administration Medical Center in Leeds, providing service on the post traumatic stress disorders and acute inpatient psychiatry units to combat veterans from all eras (WWII to Iraq and Afghanistan). SSW students also serve as interns at local service organizations including Windhorse Integrative Mental Health, ServiceNet and Walden Behavioral Care.
The Smith College Campus School serves children from kindergarten through grade six. Founded in 1926, the school serves as a laboratory for the college’s Department of Education and Child Study. The Campus School enrolls 270 children from Northampton and surrounding communities. Approximately 80 percent of the students are from families unaffiliated with Smith.
The Center for Early Childhood Education at Fort Hill offers full- and part-time enrollment to children, infancy through preschool, of Smith employees and of other members of the surrounding communities. Approximately half of the 80 families enrolled are not affiliated with the college. The program is inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach to early childhood education. The center offers tours and observations of the school and professional development opportunities to educators in the community.
Established in 1975, Sunnyside Child Care Center provides full- and part-time care for children 18 months to 5 years. Half of the 45 families served are non-Smith families and come from Northampton and the surrounding communities. Though Sunnyside is not a Smith program, Smith provides physical plant services and a rent-free building to the center. Smith students serve as assistants and interns. Local high school and college students observe and volunteer at Sunnyside in the context of child development courses and as interns. Sunnyside participates in the Northampton Community Partnerships for Children Council and is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Sunnyside is a Universal Pre-Kindergarten Pilot Program for the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) and receives a Classroom Quality Grant from EEC to promote school readiness and positive outcomes for children. Sunnyside also participates in the Massachusetts Infant and Toddler Leadership Initiative, a training module for preparing leaders to provide mentoring support to infant and toddler educators.