Fox Chapel Middle School seventh-grade language arts teacher Steve Haberlin recently saw an article in the St. Petersburg Times about a 4-year-old named Summer Moll, who was seriously injured in a car crash that killed her mother. His heart went out to her.
He felt a need to do something, so he read the article to his students. They wanted to help, too. They began by writing get-well cards. Then they decided to do a fundraiser.
A group of students organized a walk around the school to collect change. The goal was $500, and they are well on their way to surpassing that.
Now they are organizing a bake sale. They have been creating fliers and writing announcements to advertise it.
Haberlin said he is guiding his students but is trying to let them run the activities on their own.
"The more I stay out of it, the more they learn," he said.
Some of the seventh-graders shared why they were so willing to help a child they do not know.
"If something like that happened to my family, I'd want someone to do that with my family," said Bakari Norris, 14.
Tiffany Sechser, 13, said, "I think it's a good project, because if she was related to you, you wouldn't want her to pass away. We want to raise money to get medical help." Tiffany said she remembers when her grandmother died and said she wanted to help somebody else.
"I feel bad her mother got killed...," said Kenya Smiley, 14, "and I thought we could do something for her."
Haberlin has two goals in mind as he pursues these projects. He is teaching language arts state standards and life goals. Get-well cards, fliers and letters cover many writing skills: developing a concept, creating a first draft, editing, sharing, communicating, presentation, grammar and technology. "They're hitting just about everything language arts-wise," he said.
He is also teaching compassion and community service.
"Those are the big lessons," Haberlin said. "The greatest is to help another human being."