IMG_2822 On Friday, June 7, thanks to the efforts of dozens of schools, city agencies, organizations, parents, and literally every adult in the Alice Deal building, our 4th annual Deal Gives Back went off with nary a substantive hitch. Below is something written by one of your 6th grade teachers, Michael Gueltig, because it says so well what the day was and should be about.

Today was our annual community service day. I pushed for our 6th grade theme to be homelessness (and it’s something I’ve spent the year talking with my 110 students about through mentor texts and writing exemplars). Some went to a food bank, some made sandwiches for an organization that delivers food to those who need it.

The most amazing event, though, took place for a group other than mine. We had collected items homeless folks need: toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, hand sanitizer, and other small necessities. They then went downtown and were given a tour by a homeless gentleman of a neighborhood where they could pass out the baggies of collected materials. As the man was walking, he stopped at a storefront, pointed, and said, “This was my home for a year.” He talked about how he moved there from across the street where the city had cut down the bushes he used to live under.

The gentleman then taught the students how to respectfully pass out the baggies of supplies: “Hi. I’m from Deal Middle School and I was wondering if you might know anyone who could use these supplies?” He also shared with them that sometimes just having someone look him in the eyes and smile means more than any money that someone might give him.

These students (or teachers) weren’t reading about something abstract. They weren’t watching a documentary. They were spending a few moments in this man’s shoes. It’s days like today that inspire me, push me, and make me hopeful for the work that I do. I’m teaching tomorrow’s leaders and I have only a year to get them to see not only the problems the world faces but that they are the ones to start solving those problems. And to start solving them today.

Here are some of the assignments:

8th graders worked at the following elementary schools: Shepherd, Marie Reed, Plummer, Smothers, Moten, H.D. Cooke, Orr, Thomson, Patterson, Turner, Maury, and Tubman.

7th graders worked at the Mid-Atlantic Network (gleaning) Barnard ES, Ronald McDonald House, Capital Area Food Bank, LAYC, Hearst ES, Chevy Chase Library, Hyde-Addison ES, Capitol Hill Montessori, Hains Point, Camp Fraser, and Stoddert ES.

6th graders participated in the following planned activities:

* Grand Oaks Assisted Living
* Capital Area Food Bank
* Common Goods City Farm
* Homeless Outreach Run
* Reading to Students at Murch ES
* Rock Creek Park Clean Up
* Walk-a-thon – students should bring school supplies for students in Oklahoma
* Pay it Forward Car Wash –
* Sandwich Making for DC Central Kitchen
* Deal Garden
* Weeding/Planting Flowers
* Skype with Students from Peru
* Letters, Cards & Friendship Bracelets for Oklahoma Students
* Four Square Mural
* Casey Trees
* PeacePlayers International Basketball Tournament