The College of Eastern Utah recently won an award for the "principles of good practice in combining service and learning" because of a tax preparation class taught by instructor Henning Olsen.
The class, volunteer income tax service-income tax preparation, was taught spring semester and was geared to teaching students how to prepare real life tax returns. The actual practice came from preparing forms for other students, the low-income and senior community within Carbon County.
The students in the program completed hundreds of tax forms this year, providing a much needed service to those in the designated communities. Olsen had his students prepare and electronically file the documents. The class met two times a week for two hours. Each student was required to put in 56 hours of service during the semester.
Assistant instructor, Linda Jensen, volunteered about 10 hours per week during the classes to help students learn and prepare tax forms.
Each project submitted for the award must meet certain principles to be viable. The project must do the following.
It must engage people in responsibility and challenging action for the common good.
An effective program provides structured opportunities for people to reflect critically on the service experience.
A good program articulates clear service and learning goals for all involved.
The community that is being serviced must be able to define their own needs as well.
The program should clarify the responsibilities of each person and each organization involved.
The program must match service providers with service needs that the changing circumstances that exist.
Every program must include training, supervision, monitoring, support, recognition and evaluation to meet the goals that have been put forth.
The program must insure that the time commitment for service and learning is flexible, appropriate and in the best interests of all involved.
An effective program is committed to participation by and with diverse populations within the area.
One of the keys is that Olsen acts as the instructor and the programs coordinator. His background in tax preparation is important and prominent for the success of the program.