I have been teaching in the Caesar Rodney High School social studies department since 2002. For the past 16 years this group of 18 teachers has worked together on so many things in AND out of the classroom. We have shared lesson plans, collaborated on best practices, raised money to offer scholarships, chaperoned international trips, and organized fun social gatherings to celebrate these accomplishments.
As a department we work hard to provide our students with more than just an education. While we are all passionate about the content we teach every day, it is the rapport we establish with the students that creates a class climate conducive to learning. Every single one of us makes a valiant effort to attend school sporting events, concerts, and other extracurricular activities to show our support. We volunteer our time to coach and sponsor school teams and clubs. We write numerous letters of recommendation every year. We spend money out of our own pockets to provide snacks and other classroom goodies as incentive.
We are not afraid to put ourselves out there to make the students laugh and show them that we are human too. Many of the males in our department participate in the No Shave November competition and allow their students to choose the design of their facial hair. Many of us participate in spirit weeks by wearing silly outfits. But, my favorite example of how we put ourselves in vulnerable positions to win them over is by performing at CR Idol (our annual fundraiser where students can showcase their talents). In 2016 many members of the department spent countless hours practicing a choreographed dance that we then performed in front of 1,000 students, parents, teachers, and administrators.
The funds raised from this talent show are partially used to afford two seniors scholarship money and as a charitable donation to Project CIVICS (CR Integrates Volunteerism in Community Service). The idea for this started when Carla Lawson became department chair in 2005 and wanted to organize an effort to help a few kids in need over the holidays. Each teacher was assigned one child in the school who was identified as homeless (living in a shelter, group home, or on the streets). We created donation boxes and encouraged students to drop in extra change when they could. This money was then used to buy gifts. The students would spend one day wrapping and labeling and then the teacher would drop off the presents.
Over the years we have expanded this program to all of the schools in the district. So now each teacher adopts 2-5 students and we hold class competitions to see who can raise the most money. In the past 12 years our students have raised over $100,000 and helped more than 1,000 children in need! They take pride in knowing they donated money, shopped, and/or wrapped gifts for students who would otherwise go without on Christmas morning. This project has become a tradition at Caesar Rodney High School and I am proud to be a part of it!
If you would like to contribute to Project CIVICS, you can donate by mailing a check (made payable to Project CIVICS) to:
Caesar Rodney High School; Attention Carla Lawson
239 Old North Road, Camden, DE, 19934