06/17/2010
Teacher Tribute
Milwaukee public schools connect the classroom with the community

Montessori educator demonstrates particular creativity

Last August program staff from NID traveled to Milwaukee to launch a district-wide service-learning initiative with 40 teachers in Milwaukee elementary schools. Following is the story of one project that resulted from the training.

Shelley Humel Dosmann is a Montessori educator. So allowing her students to come up with an issue that concerned them was no problem. But when her primary grades class decided to focus on poverty and homelessness, she wondered how she would fit it into the curriculum. Montessori’s “Fundamental Needs of Humans” provided the perfect connection to their ongoing learning and service.

When looking for shelter, the students visited the nearby Milwaukee Rescue Mission and learned firsthand about the support needed for men, women and children living without permanent shelter.

For spiritual needs the students decided they wanted to give Valentine boxes of candy and cards to shelter residents because, “Everyone needs love.”

Next, food. The enterprising students found recipes, created menus and prepared Vietnamese Noodle Salad and turkey wraps which they sold at a parent-teacher conference. With the proceeds they purchased fresh fruit and packed it in hand-decorated boxes for the rescue mission residents.

For transportation, they raised money through a walk-a-thon to buy bus passes to donate to their new friends.

And, finally, they focused on clothing. They plan to find matching funds to help them buy swimsuits and a sprinkler for the shelter – a refreshing break from the summer heat.

The class invested considerable time in the "learning" phase of their project. And when it came time to focus on "service," the project (and students) really came together. Says Shelley of service-learning “The kids form a much tighter community; they are working for a common goal.”

We congratulate Shelley and our Milwaukee colleagues for their enthusiastic response to our service-learning framework and their ability to truly connect “the classroom with the community.”

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