Teacher Tribute
A Voice for the Voiceless in Southwest Philadelphia

Stephanie Newman’s 4th, 5th and 6th grade students gathered together on the classroom rug to share their thoughts after a time of writing and reflection. These 25 scholars at Philadelphia Montessori Charter School (PMCS) were in the early stages of unpacking the topic of Animal Abuse after months of exploring a wide range of issues in their community.

Each student had something to share about what they had learned so far. And they already had some great ideas for how they could help. Among the many thoughtful ideas, Nevaeh suggested, “We could support organizations that help protect animals in their natural habitat.”

This is Stephanie’s first year in the NID Network and we were thrilled that she wanted to make the connection between the student-centered approach of a Montessori classroom and the My Voice framework for service-learning. “The students at PMCS seem to be getting so much from the service-learning we're doing thanks to my participation with Need In Deed this year,” she shared. “They're thinking outside the box, asking thoughtful questions, and challenging themselves each day to be better and do better.”

In a Montessori school, students spend multiple years in the same class with their teacher, which means that most Stephanie’s students have already been in her room for a year or two. We wondered what was different this year now that they are doing a service-learning project together.

Kayah said, “We have different opportunities to help the world.” Mohammed shared, “We get to meet new people and we get to help.” And Andre summed it up for all when he said, “We can try to be the voice for the voiceless.”

Stephanie adds, “For me personally, the reason I like working with Need in Deed is that, with this extensive list of issues we came up with, we really identified the needs in our community. And then we got to learn about those issues in the process of learning to become better readers and writers. Without Need in Deed, we would just focus on the academic subjects without connecting to the issues in our neighborhood. Now we get to focus on helping people. If we aren’t helping people, what are we doing?”