09/29/2008
My Voice My Community
Back to School with Need in Deed

Comcast hosts event for NID corporate donors

This was not a typical "Back to School Night." Instead of the teacher standing at the front of the class, 6th graders James Crawford, Sokunvichet Ngo and Cierra Washington, from Grover Washington Jr. Middle School, were front and center. Their "class" was corporate executives and NID donors who wanted to learn more about how young people working with NID teachers are affecting positive change in their communities and schools.

Guided by their teacher, Amy Gottesman, the three students described their NID service-learning project from last year, which focused on how not to be a victim. The students were motivated by a series of letters sent home to Grover parents last year, cautioning them about the prevalence of a mysterious van parked outside the school. The letter caused many of Ms. Gottesman's students to fear for their physical safety.

Through the resources of NID, they met with a police inspector, a black belt karate expert and Philadelphia's Police Commissioner Charles Ramsay -- each of whom shed light on a different aspect of the problem.

At the Comcast event, corporate donors asked questions of Ms. Gottesman and the students. They also heard from Mark Wilicki, the principal of the Logan School, who talked about the impact of NID's service-learning support on his teachers and students.

Clearly, the venue was a draw for both audience and presenters. From the windows of the 45th floor conference room at the Comcast Center, the students could see the city from a different vantage point than usual.

When their teacher asked them afterward what they thought of the experience, all three responded: "It was cool! Can we do this again?"