05/24/2012
Teacher Tribute
"My Boys Are Changing for the Better"

Understanding Gun Violence in the Context of Loss

Most of the time, teens are way too cool to show any kind of emotion. But at Need in Deed’s recent Shout Out, one group of 7th grade boys could not hide their elation at the sight of their teacher.

“There goes Ms. Bambino!” one boy yelled, and in a flash, a group of students from Feltonville Arts and Sciences had converged around Deborah Bambino to show off their project work, catch up on the latest news, and exchange hugs and smiles.

It had been a few weeks since the students – a rambunctious group of at-risk boys handpicked by Debbie for her class – had seen their teacher. Earlier this spring, a medical condition forced Debbie to take a leave of absence from the classroom. But not, it turns out, from her students’ Need in Deed project.

While still in the hospital, Debbie called NID so that we could reschedule a community partner visit, and even tried to Skype with her students to help them keep the project going.

What was it about this project that made it so compelling? The students, after examining issues that concerned them in their community and visiting with several community partners, had identified gun violence as their topic. Encouraged by Debbie to think deeply about all that is lost because of gun violence, the students have been working to educate others about the destructive impact of gun violence on victims, their families, and the families of shooters as well.

In nominating her class for Shout Out category awards, Debbie wrote that “the escalation of gun violence in our community underscores the need for this project. Although we are at the initial stage of transformation, I do believe my boys will be changed for the better as a result of this work.”

Watching the students beam with pride as they accepted their “Genuine Need” award, and hearing them clap and cheer as Debbie won an “Outstanding Teacher Award,” it’s clear they’ve already changed for the better as a result of their time in Debbie’s classroom.

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