CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)--Cleaning up after animals at the Humane Educational Society in Chattanooga was probably not on the summer vacation "wish list" for about 10 Hamilton County teachers, but it's all part of a learning process.

They're participating in a state Service Learning certification program which will help them teach their students about the importance and rewards of helping others. The best way to teach it was to do it themselves.

"We brought the teachers over here today to give them a real world experience. To have them go through what they'd be asking their students to do," explained Delray Zimmerman of Volunteer Tennessee, the organization in charge of the program. He said community service is a great experience for students outside the classroom.

"They improve their grades. They are less likely to miss school," said Zimmerman. "They self-report that they're leaders and that they feel more connected to their community."

It's students' lack of connection to their communities which worries Tyner Academy special education teacher Grace Monk. She said she will use what she learns from the program to turn it around and improve her students' self-esteem.

"This might be a way for them to feel that they have something to offer, and what a powerful feeling that is for them," said Monk.

For Tyner Academy art teacher Tamara Salter, the program will help her students broaden their already civic-minded attitudes.

"Our students already have ideas. They actually think of doing service a lot at Tyner, but this might help us to just carry it through a little better," said Salter.

The teachers also received classroom training, curriculum training, and resource toolkits to guide them. They are eager to share the experience with other educators. A separate group of teachers simultaneously volunteered Thursday at the Chattanooga Area Food Bank as part of the program.