Teacher Tribute
A New Take on Need in Deed

Experienced Network Member Flexes the Framework

This year – her 5th as a member of Need in Deed’s Teacher Network – Leslie Greenberg is trying something new. Given her history with NID, this comes as no surprise. In fact, "trying something new" is business as usual with Leslie.

Leslie first encountered Need in Deed as a special education teacher at Jay Cooke Elementary School. She was supporting her students in a mainstream classroom led by a NID teacher. She saw how service-learning projects could help her students participate more fully in mainstream classes. So the next year, she joined the Network and requested a block of time during social studies to work with all of the students.

“Kids who would never speak up during regular education classes were participating,” Leslie remembers of that first project. By the end of the year, the students, who had chosen gun violence as their topic, held a charity basketball game to benefit the Think First program at Magee Rehabilitation.

For the next three years, Leslie taught two sections of regular education 8th graders at Cooke – which meant doing two projects each year, often on mature and sensitive topics like teen pregnancy, human trafficking or child abuse. But Leslie was far from overwhelmed.

“I change as a teacher every year depending on the project – not just because the students are different, but because of the new collaborations and partnerships the project brings.” In fact, she says, “it makes teaching more fun – I’m interested in these topics too!”

When she began teaching 7th and 8th grade at McCall Elementary School in the fall of 2013, Leslie already knew several of her new colleagues through the Network. Almost all of her students have had a chance to do a NID project in 3rd, 5th and/or 6th grade, which inspired Leslie to use the My Voice framework in a new way.

While she plans to guide her two 8th grade sections through the traditional NID process, Leslie is adapting the framework for her 7th graders. Rather than choosing a single topic to focus on, the students will explore multiple social issues through the lenses of literature, nonfiction essays, and social studies texts.

“It will be like a year long ‘V’ stage,” Leslie says, referencing the first stage of the NID framework, during which students do a lot of research and community building. That way, when they come back for 8th grade, “we’ll be ready to dive right in!”