12/02/2008
Teacher Tribute
Congratulations, Cidney Alexander!

A Service-Learning Oasis

Walk into Cidney Alexander’s 6th grade classroom at the Hackett School in Fishtown and it’s apparent that service-learning is an integral part of her students’ day. All around the room you see evidence of specific activities – clippings from a newspaper walk, a social issues parking lot, a graphic organizer highlighting classroom guidelines for student voice.

Cidney first learned about NID five years ago when she was a teaching intern. Since then she’s followed the organization’s progress by visiting our website periodically. When the chance to work with us arose last spring, she was quick to apply. Cidney has always valued building a sense of community in her classroom, so service-learning is an extension of what she’s done in the past. Now, armed with an array of skills and resources from NID, she feels able to bring more structure to the process.

Her class is in the midst of exploring a broad range of social issues. Various discussions about the topics have provided occasion for some of the more reticent students to exhibit their leadership abilities. In addition, Ms. Alexander creates numerous opportunities to promote critical thinking, such as when she asked the class to rank the guidelines they developed for student voice and justify the rankings. “I’m thrilled the students are off to a good start. They are definitely nurturing seeds of learning.”

The students are keeping service-learning journals, the contents of which they’ll gladly share with you. Their teacher doesn’t conceal her amazement at her students’ perceptive comments or her joy in their accomplishments. “It’s great to have others experience the insightful beliefs of my students. They are truly wonderful human beings.”