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HOMELESSNESS: 3rd grade, Hantman, McCall Elementary School
Grades: 3, 4, 5 and 6 • Issues: Homelessness •Curriculum: Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Speaking & Listening and Writing
Meet the students in Lisa Hantman’s 3rd grade class at McCall Elementary School.
As a result of their yearlong research on homelessness, students in Lisa Hantman’s 3rd grade class decided to host a “political summit” on homelessness, which resulted in presenting what they had learned through their yearlong project to members of Philadelphia City Council.
Preparing them for this impressive culmination were visits from several community partners who brought the topic to life.
The Rev. Robin Hynicka, of Arch Street United Methodist Church, described to the class the way his church strives to be inclusive of people who are currently homeless. He brought two such people to the class with him to share what it is like to be homeless. The students welcomed their guests with breakfast and had lots of questions prepared. They learned first-hand the challenges of living in a shelter, for example.
They also met with a 15-year-old girl who spent two years being homeless.
“Lisa’s story was heart-wrenching and real,” recalls Lisa. “The kids were, of course, struck by her being a child experiencing this.”
Ironically, later in the school year a boy who was homeless transferred into the class, bringing the problem even closer to home.
The students conducted several mini-service activities to ground them in the problem. They collected 410 canned goods, which they donated to Philabundance and they donated a trunk-load of items to help a family in need.
At the start of the year, says Lisa, students “began sharing stories of their experiences with those who are homeless. It convinced me that this isn’t something from which I can shield them. It is in their lives already, and our looking closer at the issue could only ease their anxiety and increase awareness.”
To listen to an interview with the students, click here