Amelia Loughlin, Autistic Support Teacher, AMY Northwest
Amelia Loughlin’s Autistic Support students partnered with a regular education 6th grade class to organize a “Socktober” drive that delivered over 4,000 pairs of socks to people experiencing homelessness. Inspired by a Kid President video, Amelia’s class organized “Socks Across the City,” invited five other Need in Deed schools to join the effort, and placed collection boxes around Philadelphia. In addition to providing socks to those in need, the project enabled Amelia’s students to take on a leadership role, which was an exciting and new experience for many of them.
Initially, Amelia was concerned that the Need in Deed model might not match her students’ learning styles. The organic nature of the process, the frequent, lively class discussions, and the student-driven focus of activities presented potential challenges to her class. Fortunately, she found that Need in Deed was willing to be flexible. Amelia explains, “I was able to use the Need in Deed framework but provide more teacher-directed activities. It has been wonderful.”
One of most exciting things about Amelia’s experience with Need in Deed has been the creation of community for her students: “My children are really challenged with finding a community. They come to school but they are oftentimes in their own little part of the school and they never get to know anybody else. The first year that I did Need in Deed, we partnered my Autistic Support class with an English as a Second Language class. We built a very nice community and the kids from my room had friends who said hello to them, were excited to see them. We saw friendships blossom. A parent shared with me that two of the girls came knocking on her door one day and asked if her son could come out and play. The mother started to cry and said, ‘Nobody ever knocked on my door and asked my son to play.’ It was wonderful to see that the friendships had transferred over and the kids were thinking about each other outside of school.”
Need in Deed Executive Director Kimberly Kim adds, “The great thing about our model is that we will follow Amelia where she goes. We encourage all of our teachers to adapt our program to their students, and we have found that, with flexibility and accommodation, Need in Deed can work for any student in any classroom.”