Students arrived on the University of La Verne campus Monday toting backpacks and hot coffee, some still sleepy-eyed from months of summer relaxation and others raring to go for the first day of t...
Jason Cooper learned about service to his community in a 300-level class while a student at La Verne, and when organizing a community outreach event for the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks he found passionate volunteers at his alma mater.
It was a decade ago, as a University of La Verne student, that the seed of community service was planted in Jason Cooper’s heart. In early February, Cooper spearheaded a community outreach effort at the highest level.
Cooper, a 2003 graduate of La Verne, now serves as Fan Development Coordinator for the Anaheim Ducks of the National Hockey League. So, on February 7, it was his job to pull together educational activities for more than 15,000 elementary school students on a day of learning and community service.The First Flight Field Trip’s curriculum is designed to meet the state’s educational content standards for grades 3-6. Cooper determined the educational content for the exhibits and exposition area, a task right up his alley.
“The idea of service has continuously resonated with me,” Cooper said. “As a teacher it motivates you to work toward your students’ best interests and that has translated well into this new position.”
The Ducks’ 12th annual First Flight Field Trip transformed the Honda Center in Anaheim into a cavernous classroom buzzing with kids. The objective was to explore the math and science of hockey and teach the connection between the body and brain. Hands-on interactive exhibits and workbook lessons put them to the test, both mentally and physically.
Cooper, who earned a bachelor of arts degree in Journalism from La Verne, began working for the Ducks last August. For the early February event, he developed the educational content, solicited corporate sponsors for donations, and coordinated community participation.
It was also Cooper who, in November, initiated contact with Jaye Houston, La Verne’s interim Director of Community Service. The First Flight Field Trip was approaching and he hoped to recruit La Verne students as volunteers for the event.
“He first introduced himself as a proud alumnus and stated that one of his most valuable experiences at La Verne was his Core 305 Learning Through Community Service course,” said Houston.
“La Verne came to mind because of my time there and the impact that service learning had on me,” said Cooper.
By the time La Verne students were settled into spring semester, Houston had spread the word of the need for volunteers and with the help of fellow faculty, identified more than 20 who were willing to serve.
“This event provided La Verne students an opportunity to share their skills, talents, and knowledge with the community,” Houston said. “Our students energetically worked with thousands of kids, demonstrating the foundational values of ULV.”
La Verne graduate and undergraduate students joined 100 fellow volunteers from neighboring nonprofit institutions and businesses in the early hours of the misty morning. La Verne students were hosts to an array of educational activities ranging from pushup training to memory exercises to lessons on the importance of sleep.
Houston said that her hope is that, when she concludes teaching one of her Core 305 service learning classes, students will walk away with the desire and intent to continue the practice of community service — one of the four tenets of the University of La Verne’s Mission Statement.
Cooper’s teaching career began in 2005, in physical education at Maranatha Christian Academy in Santa Ana. During that time, he earned a master’s degree in education and received his California teaching credential.
It was while teaching at Maranatha that he heard of the First Flight program and wanted to get involved.
During his undergraduate years at La Verne, Cooper was a member of the swimming and diving teams during their inaugural season, served on the Campus Times and La Verne Magazine staff for a combined eight semesters, and directed intramural sports during the 2002-2003 school year.
It was during these years, Cooper said, that he developed a strong sense of community and appreciation for service, which has helped in the development of his career.
“It would be hard to narrow down just one thing that I learned at La Verne that has helped my career,” Cooper said. “I feel that the person I am today was influenced by a combination of lessons and experiences I had during my time there.”