Teacher Tribute
“Education Is About Leadership, Not Dispensing Information”

A Veteran Teacher Shares Her NID Experience

“What surprised me most about Need in Deed is that it has all the hallmarks of a professional learning community,” said Deborah Bambino, a second year NID Network teacher, recently. “When I first applied, I originally thought it would just be for the kids.” But Deborah has found NID is just as beneficial for teachers as it is for students.

Deborah’s career in education has taken many turns. The teaching spark first hit her when she served as “a home and school mom” at her children’s school. She loved engaging with the students, even stepping far outside her comfort zone to run the drama club. Deborah soon went back to school to become a teacher, working at George Washington Elementary School in South Philadelphia for several years before helping to open Central East Middle School (which is now Feltonville Arts and Sciences, where she still teaches) in 1992.

Although much of her career has been spent in the classroom, Deborah has served in a number of leadership roles for the schools. She has also done consulting nationwide, helping to design schools, foster collaborative learning communities and implement service- and project-based learning in districts from Philadelphia to Cleveland to Seattle. What first drew her to NID was her sense that the program is “all about student voice.”

Deborah is a dedicated, innovative educator who actively seeks out new challenges. She applied to NID after working with her principal to pilot a class of all boys for whom she was seeking new pathways to engagement. She also believes strongly in the value of collaborative learning. As Deborah says, when teachers come together to share resources and have critical discussions, “it truly benefits students. It’s not group therapy; it’s changing practices for the kids. It’s ‘What am I doing differently on Monday?’”

Over the summer, Deborah was accepted into WHYY’s Digital Story-Telling Fellowship program, and she’s excited about bringing digital media resources into her classroom. Even more, she’s excited to see what a new group of students will do with NID. As Deborah says of her educational philosophy, “You start with student empowerment and engagement, start with community, and the rest follows” … Exactly what Need in Deed is all about.