Darlene Short

School: 
Castle North Middle School
IN 47630
United States
Why I want my students to be involved in volunteering and service, etc. 
I have always believed that every person is created for a purpose that goes beyond individual needs and wants. We have an obligation to be prepared to do God’s work at any time. We are fortunate and blessed when we get the opportunity to plan to fill a need in our community. In a public school setting, the responsibility to serve rather than be served can be realized through service-learning projects.
Tips for infusing philanthropy... 
Over 300 students, parents, and teachers worked together to donate 260 teddy bears to children in the surrounding area. This project is designed to help children in our community while teaching 6th graders the responsibility of being active community members. Each student chose one character trait to feature as the theme of a narrative story. The main character is a "bear" that has made a poor decision, suffered the consequences, and learned a lesson. The edited and published bear stories were paired with a "Build-a-Bear" bear that was made to represent the main character in the story. In addition to writing stories, the students raised some of the funds to pay for the bears by hosting a spaghetti dinner/talent show for the Castle North Middle School community. The bears and stories were donated to local families through different nonprofit organizations and youth projects.
I taught this LTG lesson 
The Learning to Give character education lessons challenged the students to think about decisions we make that impact the world. My students each selected a character trait to feature in their stories.
How I adapted the lesson for my learners 
We started with teaching the students about different character traits, such as perseverance, honesty, and fairness, using Learning to Give lesson plans. As we discussed the traits, students learned more about the importance of active participation in the middle school community. They established their place by leading a highly engaging service-learning project.
Student Impact 
My heart is warmed when I see the students “own” their story and bear and yet they are happy to give them away. The most breathtaking experience for me is watching students, who receive few gifts themselves, eagerly give their bear away to a child in need. This project improves students’ writing skills and helps the sixth graders find their place in the middle school. In addition, community members at the mall, other members of our school community, and the students themselves see they can make a difference in another person's life. We have received thank you cards from the recipients of these bears. One parent stated, “My son loves his bear so much that he won’t do anything without it.”