Skip to Main Content


You are in the main content
Cover Photo Image

What is a Learning Partner?

Alternative Breaks are led by two student co-leaders. These students are responsible for the break logistics, communication with the partner service agency, team development, and facilitating group reflection sessions. Each break also has a faculty/staff Learning Partner. The Learning Partner participates as team member and is not responsible for the leadership or logistics of the break.

Learning Partners add to the Alternative Break team by:

  • Adding educational value to the trip by contributing their life and professional perspective.
  • Being a mature influence to encourage students to make wise decisions
  • Acting as a resource for agency site leaders by providing advice and/or support
  • Building relationships with student trip leaders and participants while in a non-traditional role
  • Encouraging long-term relationships between the AB program and other JMU offices
  • Serving as the legal representative of JMU for the trip in case of accident or emergency

It is important that Learning Partners participate in all team activities. This includes participation in all activities during the break and several group meetings before and after the break.

How do I get more information about being a Learning Partner?

Contact 540-568-6366 or e-mail You can also stop by the Community Service-Learning Office on the second floor of the Student Success Center. Several informational meetings will be held for those interested learning more about becoming a Learning Partner.

2015-2016 Interest Meetings (all meetings contain the same information):

  • September 7, 12-1, Madison Union 306
  • September 8, 12:30-1:30, Festival Alleghany

How do I become a Learning Partner?

Alternative Break student leaders invite a Learning Partner to join their service team. All faculty and staff interested in becoming a Learning Partner should complete the Learning Partner Profile Form. This information will be placed in a resource directory from which students would then contact you. Potential partners may specify for which trip dates they would like to be contacted. Unfortunately, we can make no guarantees that all potential partners will be selected to attend a break.

We are not able to update existing profiles. We suggest you save the text of your profile in a separate document, so you can easily update your profile in future years. Thanks for your interest and willingness to partner with the Alternative Break Program.

Click here to complete the online profile process.

I'm interested in the Alternative May Break. What do I need to know about it?

This break is a little different from the others. The small groups for this trip will consist of 7-9 participants and two Small Group Leaders—one student and one faculty/staff. In addition there are four Site Leaders—two students and one to two faculty/staff member(s). The Site Leaders are responsible for the overall development and supervision of the break as well as all communication with the host agency. Overall there will be 50-60 participants on the break.

If you would like to become an Alternative May Break Leader, please download and submit an Alternative May Break application

May Small Group Leader Responsibilities

  • Preparation and development of your small group
    • Meet with your group a minimum of 4 times before the trip
    • Conduct team building activities
    • Communicate expectations and answer questions
    • Provide educational materials and activities before the trip
    • Be the liaison between your small group and the site leader; providing and gathering information as needed
    • Conduct reflection sessions with your small group while on-site
    • Supervise your small group while on-site
  • Assist in the planning and preparation of the trip
    • Attend planning meetings (approximately 3)
    • Participate in fundraising activities and supervise your small group participation in these activities
  • Meetings and events (some of these may take place outside of the 8-5 work day)
    • Planning and training meetings (TBA)
    • At least one fundraising event
    • At least one pre-trip Community Meeting where all participants will be in attendance
    • Other?
  • Benefits
    • Small group leaders will receive $100 scholarship towards the cost of the trip.
    • Get to know a fabulous group of JMU folks.
    • Engage in a meaningful and powerful service-learning experience!

I've been a learning partner before, should I resubmit my application?

Unless you have had significant life changes that you would like students to know about, there is no need to redo your application year after year. Simply e-mail and ask to be resubmitted for the following year. We'll pull up the previous year's application and include it in the Learning Partner directory. However, if you would like to update your application with any experiences, we are happy to replace your existing application in our database. Again, we suggest you save the text of your application in a separate document, so you can easily update your application in future years

I've submitted my application; what happens now?

All applicants are invited to participate in a special learning partner social event with the trip leaders. At this meeting, trip leaders and potential learning partners will have a chance to briefly meet one another and set up follow-up interviews.

Learning Partner Social for ASB 2016: September 28, 7-8 p.m., SSC 4044

Learning Partners may initially be contacted by several trip leaders for follow-up interviews. The goal of initial conversations should be to get to know each other and to find out trip information (destination, issue focus, lodging conditions, etc). Trip leaders should be specific when they are asking a Learning Partner to actually commit to a trip. Once a Learning Partner commits to a specific trip, they will be removed from the list of potential LPs and other groups will not contact them. Please note, the decision to commit to a trip should be mutual.

2015-2016 Timelines

Alternative Thanksgiving Break Learning Partners

  • Summer - August: All Thanksgiving breaqk destinations finalized, break leaders contact, interview and confirm selection of Learning Partners
  • Mid-September: Thanksgiving Break leaders must submit their final Learning Partner choice
  • October: Learning Partner training/review session (according to selected Learning Partner schedules)

Alternative Spring Break Learning Partners

  • Summer - September: All spring break destinations finalized, student leaders contact, interview and confirm selection of Learning Partners
  • September 18: Deadline to submit learning partner application in order to be considered for spring break 2016.
  • September 28: Learning Partner Social for ASB 2016
  • September 29 - October 22: Student Leaders contact, interview and confirm selection of Learning Partners
  • October 23: Spring Break Trip leaders must submit their final Learning Partner choice
  • January-February: Learning Partner training/review session (according to selected Learning Partner schedules)

Alternative May Break Leaders

  • Late September: May Faculty/Staff Small Group Leader applications available.
  • November 14: May Faculty/Staff Small Group Leader applications due.
  • December: May Faculty/Staff Small Group Leader notified.
  • January-May: 3-4 Trainings with all small group leaders and site leaders.

Alternative Break Roles and Expectations

ABP logo