02/17/2012
Teacher Tribute
Service is "Spreading Like Wildflowers"

Two Teachers Win My Voice Web Awards for February

Congratulations to Tim Padilla, an 8th grade teacher at Grover Washington, Jr. Middle School, and Kathleen Wainwright, a 4th grade teacher at Pennell Elementary School! Both of these outstanding educators have won Need in Deed My Voice Web Awards for February.

Tim is a first-year member of NID’s Teacher Network. His students spent a lot of time debating the issues that concerned them before coming to consensus on the topic of violence. As Tim wrote recently, “The decision was a timely one, as my students have been overwhelmed with news and current events about violence in the neighborhoods around them. They all recognize violence as an important topic because it hits close to home for many of them.”

A transformation is taking place in Tim’s classroom: “Our Need in Deed discussions about violence … have provided an outlet for students to weigh in on recent events. Student-led discussions have never been so successful. They now provide our class with a space to comfort each other, and this in turn has built a sense of urgency that drives their hope to cause change in their school and community.”

Kathie’s 4th graders are also tackling violence, but of a different kind: animal abuse. For her students, the transformative moment came from a community partner who is not too much older than they are: Lizzie Pena, the 12-year-old founder of Peace for Puppies. As Kathie wrote, their project “clicked for them because they got to see [Lizzie’s] service in action … When I told them they could do the same thing, they were ecstatic. And that was the birth of our classroom blog and the 4th Grade Pet Detectives.”

Through their blog especially, their teacher “can see student roles start to unfold. Some students prefer to be behind the scenes, while others want to be up front. I have a class secretary, interviewers, editors, photographers, artists … my students are finding their comfortable place in our project.” Best of all, Kathie shares, is the fact that “our project is more than a service project in my class; it has become a part of who we are.”

As one of Tim’s students said: “It doesn’t matter what topic we pick. It matters that we are doing something to help other people.” The added bonus is that they are helping themselves at the same time.

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