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Editor's note: Robin McManus teaches fourth grade at the Willard Elementary School in Concord, Mass. Last year, McManus used Read to Feed® in her classroom after a suggestion from a student.  As to why she decided to use the resources, she said, "I believe in the importance of education in our ever globalizing world, and that educating myself about social, environmental and economic issues is my responsibility not only as a teacher but as a citizen of the world. It is my job to learn about these issues and to create an environment where empathetic and thoughtful students can question, learn, and become empowered to take action. Read to Feed is something that enabled my class to learn about relevant issues and feel like they could make a difference." We'll document the classroom's journey through the curriculum here over the next couple of weeks. 

It started with a student…

McManus created a bulletin board to show the rest of the school what her class was working on and how they tracked their progress.
McManus created a bulletin board to show the rest of the school what her class was working on and how they tracked their progress.

When a student approached me with a catalog and said, “Here Ms. McManus, I thought you might like this.  It’s about Africa and reading and I did it at my old school,” I smiled, politely thanked him, and figured it was something I thought would be in my recycling bin by the end of the day. 

Having taught in Ghana, West Africa, I was used to people sharing generic things about teaching in Africa with me.  My students loved hearing stories about my time teaching abroad, so the catalogue was no surprise.  However, when I glanced down, I saw it was published by Heifer and was intrigued. 

The fact that my student’s excitement and motivation from doing Read to Feed in another school had stayed with him and a year later he was sharing this program with me was impressive.  “There is something here,” I thought, and hopped online to see what Read to Feed was all about.

I think I’m a pretty typical teacher.  I never have enough time to teach everything I want.  My head is often spinning from the plethora of new programs, technologies, projects, theories, books, and amazing activities going on in other classrooms. Some days I go home and wonder if I inspired my students that day, if I did my best to bring my excitement for the world into my classroom that day.  I want to inspire and motivate through my teaching. I strongly believe in the importance of being an educated citizen in our ever globalizing world, and that embracing diversity and promoting unity, generosity and empathy are paramount concepts that are my responsibility to address in my classroom. 

Read to Feed embodies this, and allows me to run an amazing project in my classroom that is both extremely meaningful and manageable.

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We'll continue McManus' story next week, including the goal her students set. If you're interested, check out all the resources Heifer has to offer, including Read to Feed

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Heifer International is a nonprofit, non-governmental organization working with communities to end hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth.

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