Shinika St. Cyr, 3rd Grade Teacher, Duckery School
The first stage of Need in Deed’s My Voice framework focuses on exploration. We call it “Value Your Voice” and it gives students and teachers the opportunity to discover their passions, their surroundings, their interests and their aspirations.
Shinika St. Cyr’s class began their “V” stage with a community walk around their North Philadelphia neighborhood. This is Shinika’s first year in the Need in Deed Teacher Network but she didn’t let the challenge of a large class with diverse learning needs stop her from embarking on this journey.
Shinika describes the experience, “As they walked, the students discussed what they saw, they took notes, they observed, and they expressed their feelings about the community. At one point, they began to count the number of vacant lots around the school, and the ideas they had for what the lots could be. At the end of the walk, one student, Taeshaun, turned to a classmate and said, ‘I’ve lived here all of my life and I never realized how many empty lots there are in my community. We should do something about this.’ It was an amazing moment with amazing students.”
Seeing the community in a new way is a crucial part of the Need in Deed process. By encouraging students like Taeshaun to step back and see their neighborhood through an inquiry lens – one where they ask “What do I like? What would I like to change?”— we help set them on a path towards engaged learning and citizenship.
You can learn so much from a community walk.