Teachers serve an important role in society. Along with parents, they have the enormous task of preparing the next generation with the knowledge and skills needed to be successful adults. We celebrate these individuals today on World Teacher’s Day.
Mark De Young teaches sixth grade at G.W. Carver Elementary School in Yuma, Arizona. Mark has been teaching for 13 years, but in the past two years he’s introduced a philanthropic project for his students to help them gain a global perspective.
“Students also have the opportunity to use their skills [that they’ve learned in class] in a meaningful fashion,” Mark said. Through this project, they learned that there is a purpose to the persuasive writing skills that I taught them.”
Last year Mark’s students created the La Tejera campaign and raised $850 to build a soccer field and garden for a Salvadoran school where the majority of students are impacted by poverty. This year, Mark’s class is raising money for the Beacon of Hope Organization in Uganda to help them continue their garden and educational outreach.
To help his students understand why what they were doing mattered, Mark arranged for his class to speak with a variety of experts in fighting global poverty.
“Last year, for our first project, my class listened to local missionaries, a pastor from Chile and the school in El Salvador to learn about needs of people in poverty,” Mark said. “We then created a YouTube video that explained how helping people in poverty makes a difference, and asked local organizations, along with corporations involved with the school, to make a donation to our cause.”
After hearing about Unbound on the radio, Mark contacted us to set up a Skype session for his class. Unbound Kansas City staff members Joe Sundermeyer, Melissa Velazquez and Barclay Martin spoke with the students about the sponsorship program and how it helps families lift themselves out of poverty. The students asked in-depth questions about how Unbound works and, specifically, about our work in Uganda.
“Unbound clearly showed how poverty has a daily effect on people and that it can be overcome through compassion and understanding,” Mark said. “Seeing how global organizations help encourages my students to do the same. The Skype talk gave us a great start to this year’s Beacon of Hope project by bringing direct focus to Carver’s passion of overcoming poverty.”
Mark sees this project as more than just a way for his students to give back and learn about other cultures. It also gives them a better perspective on their own lives and concrete ways to use their education to make a difference.
“First of all, the project broadens the world perspective of my students,” Mark said. “Due to their poverty levels, most of my students don’t experience anything beyond a 25-[mile] radius outside Yuma. … Secondly, helping empowers the students to use their skills to make a difference. Too often, they are taught to be the ones on the receiving end of help through free lunches and housing programs. They don’t often get the chance to give back.”
For Mark, inspiration to teach his students about helping others came from three places: a graduate class on global awareness and technology, the example set by the school’s namesake, George Washington Carver, to make a difference in the world, and how he was raised.
“My family upbringing taught me to share God’s love in all areas,” Mark said. “My father and mother were short-term missionaries and took me on trips to build houses in Mexico and supported my short-term trips to work with children on the San Carlos Apache Reservation. … My motto is that God blesses people so that they in turn can become a blessing to others as an example of his love.”
Interested in having Unbound speak to your class? Contact Andrew Kling to learn more.