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) creates and maintains partnerships with community organizations that connect Smith's educational mission with community-identified projects.
In 2012–13, in collaboration with the Smith Science Center, CCC staff and students worked with the JFK Middle School and Northampton High School teachers and students on a variety of science projects enhancing the schools' science education programs. In addition, Smith students are active with numerous community organizations working on projects involving transportation, community farming, literacy, homelessness and more. The CCC launched a new program with the Smith College School for Social Work to support the Mindfulness in Education Initiative at Jackson Street School, bringing mindfulness techniques and practices to teachers and students.
In 2014–15, 140 area high school students took 168 courses (valued at $934,080) at no cost to the students or their parents. Since 1990, 1,818 area high school students have taken 2,128 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 free art experiences for all ages attract more than 300 visitors per month (4,000+ annually) on the second Friday of the month, from 4 to 8 p.m. The events feature “Hands-on!” art-making activities for adults with children ages 4 and above, as well as brief “Open Eyes” informal gallery conversations focusing on the museum's collection and special changing exhibitions. These discussions are led by museum education staff and based on the highly regarded approach to increasing visual literacy known as Visual Thinking Strategies. Several times each year, Second Fridays also include catered refreshments and exhibition lectures by faculty or other experts.
More than 2,300 elementary and secondary school students visited the museum in 2013–14, 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 SCMA website. In addition, 45 teachers (most from Hampshire and Hampden counties) attended professional development programs offered by the museum’s education department.
More than a thousand parents, guardians and children participated in the museum’s free Family Afternoon and Hands-on Family Fun! programs at Second Fridays in 2013–14, with Family Afternoon program materials offered in Spanish and English.
Open year-round, six days a 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 fully waived for all visitors on more than 20 days each year, including Second Fridays, Family Days, Smith Family Weekend, Smith Commencement/Reunion Weekends, International Museum Day and Family Days. As part of the Blue Star Museums program, the museum offers free admission to active-duty service personnel and their families from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
Free access to SCMA is available to public library cardholders at many local and regional libraries via the SCMA Library Pass Partners Program. More than 35 libraries participate in the SCMA Library Pass Partners Program each year, providing essential support for the museum’s exhibitions and public programs. Libraries may purchase passes through the Museum's Membership Office: firstname.lastname@example.org or (413) 585-2777. For a list of participating libraries and information about how to become a Library Pass Partner, visit: www.smith.edu/artmuseum/Visit/Planning-a-Visit2/Library-Pass-Program.
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 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) on a Saturday in March. This is part of a nationwide engineering outreach to girls, supported by the National Engineers Week Foundation: www.discovere.org.
IGTED brings girls in grades 6 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, robotics and electronics. The event allowed girls to interact with female engineering students and conduct experiments, often with locally purchased supplies, in a college engineering laboratory. In recent years, middle school teams focused on a single, more sophisticated activity, allowing them to drill deeper into theory and practice.
In collaboration with the Northampton Department of Public Works (NDPW), the Northampton Office of Planning and Sustainability (NOPS), and two community groups (the Leeds Civic Association and the Mill River Greenway Initiative), a student team in the engineering Design Clinic class designed an access spur for the MassCentral Rail Trail to connect to Main Street and Hotel Bridge in Leeds, MA.
“Commercial Drones in Our Backyards and Communities” presented by Paul Voss, Jon Caris, and Robert Newton occurred on March 4, 2015 in John M. Greene Hall. This presentation was free and open to the public.
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.
Six master’s-level Smith College School for Social Work (SSW) students are interning in Northampton for the 2013–14 training year. SSW students are engaged in 30 hour a week, 8-month internships in local agencies, including ServiceNet, the Visiting Nurse Association and Hospice of Cooley Dickinson. At the Northampton Veteran’s Administration Medical Center in Leeds, students provide service on the post-traumatic stress disorders and acute inpatient psychiatry units to combat veterans from all eras (WWII to Iraq and Afghanistan).
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. Two-thirds of the 68 families served are non-Smith families and come from Northampton and the surrounding communities. Though Sunnyside is not a Smith program, Smith supported Sunnyside’s acquisition of a new building at 557 Easthampton Road through a generous gift. Smith students serve as assistants and interns through the work-study program. Smith faculty and students utilize our program for research projects and observation of young children. 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 participates in several EEC-funded research projects involving high-quality environments and teacher competency.