Team 8-1 students at Heineman Middle School raised more than $5,000 for charities through projects completed for “Heineman Apprentice” this spring. The Apprentice project has been held in literacy and social studies classes for the past several years, teaming students together in small groups to discover, research, and support charitable organizations through class presentations and fundraising.
The project creates a powerful learning opportunity at many levels. Students collaborate on their projects, building valuable analytical, research, and rhetorical skills, while at the same time becoming more aware of organizations serving populations with experiences far different from their own. In addition, classmates benefit from learning about each others’ projects through presentations.
“Students worked cooperatively to cite ethical, empathetic and logical information to add to their presentations, while developing their researching and writing skills,” said Deidra Cravens, team 8-1 literacy teacher. We want our students to care about their communities and their world and to ‘think globally and act locally.’”
According to Cravens, student feedback about the project is overwhelmingly positive. Students enjoy connecting with “real-world” issues, people and organizations, and using their skills to make a tangible difference in the world.
A number of groups expressed that they identified so strongly with their organizations’ missions that they plan to continue working to support them independent of school.
“It’s fun to see people that you didn’t really know how passionate they were come out with really awesome presentations,” said student Holly Holterhaus, whose group focused their project on Cradles to Crayons an organization that provides a range of donated good to disadvantaged children. “It was a bit stressful at the beginning, but once we got far enough in, literacy became one of the coolest classes.”
Another group raised more than $230 in cash and donations for Animal House Shelter, a no-kill animal shelter in Huntley.
Student Kyleigh Higgins said she enjoyed meeting with local and national businesses to garner support for the cause, making a tangible impact for an organization whose mission she cared deeply about.
“It’s amazing to go shake a manager’s hand when they give you a donation,” she said. “The feeling we’ll have when we get to deliver it to the shelter, I can’t wait.”
Ava Brancato’s group raised more than $1,000 for the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Group members said they selected the organization in part because the joyous impact it makes on individual recipients is so apparent.
“I like that it made us want to keep going,” Brancato said. “I was surprised we raised over a thousand dollars. We were all excited about the first one hundred dollars, and our parents mostly donated that money, but then we were even more excited that we raised so much more.”
In total, the groups raised a $5,611 for their causes. In addition, they raised awareness both among their classmates and the larger community through their out-of-class work and in-class presentations.
“The students engage with enriching and authentic learning experiences, outside the classroom walls and beyond their Chromebooks. I think 8th graders love the trust and respect they are given as they make this leap into deeper understandings of the world around them, while also adhering to the guidelines and essential learning standards of the project,” Cravens said.
“Each and every year, Mrs. Fulton and I are astonished at the amount of work, time, supplies and efforts our students put into The Heineman Apprentice. Watching students learn and master concepts in a positive, active working model is pure magic.”