Teacher Tribute
Get the Real World into the Classroom

... And Get Them Ready for the Real World

With two bearded dragons, a snake, a rat, 30 8th graders and a student teacher sharing space, teacher Tim Padilla has a lot going on in his classroom on an average day. But knowing what goes on in his students’ lives outside of school was a factor in Tim’s decision to join Need in Deed.

“I try to get the real world into my classroom to get my students ready for the real world,” Tim explains. It seems like NID has also been a natural fit for his students, who selected the issue of violence. “My kids have so much to say about everything, so much voice! Our discussions are fun and exciting for me, and it’s something for them to grow from.”

As Tim lists the ways in which he and his students have been impacted by the violence in the Olney neighborhood around Grover Washington Middle School, it’s not hard to see why this issue resonates with the students.

During a recent self-contained day (when the students spend most of the day with a single teacher, rather than switching classes), the class devoted much of their time to exploring different aspects of violence in their community – from bullying to suicide, from media and video games to the drug trade.

“Three hours flew by while we were talking, exploring causes and effects of violence. It was a jumping off point for deeper discussions, in a forum that is safe and comfortable,” Tim recalled.

During a recent class trip to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the students were amazed to see the photograph “Mattress Flip” by Zoe Strauss blown up to banner size and hung from the museum’s massive pillars. “We had read the Philadelphia Weekly article on the story behind the kids in the photo [one of whom was shot dead in his neighborhood just 6 years after the photo was taken], and connected it to our project.”

The students also had a chance to participate in the Cradle to Grave program at Temple University Hospital, a deeply affecting presentation centered on the murder of a 16-year-old boy.

As Tim sums up their NID experience so far: “Their project is becoming something new to them – they want to make a difference, they’re invested in the topic. Need in Deed has created a community with them – they see each other differently.”