Teacher Helps Students Help Others
Published: January 17, 2008 | 6918th good news item since 2003
A former South Florida teacher of the year inspired her students to help others.
Mary Jane DeShong is a science teacher at Pembroke Pines Charter School. She said she has an undying passion to help others, which is why she formed TROOP.
“TROOP started two years ago with a group of kids that wanted to make a difference in society,” DeShong said. “TROOP stands for Teens Reaching Out to Other People. We started with 24 students and it has grown to over 75.”
Over two years, the students of TROOP have sent care packages to troops in Iraq, gone to nursing homes to help the elderly, gone to Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital to spend time with sick children and mentored young students.
On Thursday, they were getting ready for an event for Locks of Love and the Make a Wish Foundation.
DeShong said that forming the group was her inspiration.
“This is something that was inspired by God, and I prayed on it,” she said. “It’s just something that has manifested into something it is now.”
While middle school students at the charter school are required to put in service hours, TROOP is not part of that. It is strictly volunteer.
“I’ve asked the kids, ‘Why? Why are you here? Why do you after school go to the nursing home or to Joe DiMaggio or spend an entire Sunday morning and afternoon down at FAU in Miami being huggers for the Special Olympics? What do you get out of it?” DeShong said. “And they said, ‘It’s a warm and fuzzy feeling. We do it because it makes us feel good, and we do it because it’s the right thing.'”
As a teacher, DeShong said she is in a position of influence.
“If I can influence the kids to give of themselves and to be compassionate, then I’ve done my job,” she said.