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Carson Teachers Help Students Grow Culture and Community

Two 5th-grade teachers from Carson School are creating a community of giving with the help of hundreds of people across the country.

“Each year, especially at the beginning of the year when we get a new set of kids, we want to make sure we’re working on building our community,” said 5th-grade English and Language Arts Teacher Margie DiMuzio.  

Margie DiMuzio (left) and Brittany Noble (right) created the “I Need Box” as a way of creating a community in their classroom

Margie Dimuzio and her intervention specialist Brittany Noble created the “I Need Box” as a way for students to discreetly tell the teachers what they need to get them through the day, from a hug to essential items. 

“It started with a friend who sent me a message about a middle school teacher who had an ‘I Need Box’ as a way for her students to let her know of things that they may not feel comfortable sharing directly,” said Dimuzio. “We thought it was going to be simple, and it turned into a whole lot more than just a little box!”

Each day, students submit a piece of paper with their “need” in the box. If the student doesn’t have anything to submit, they still place a paper in the box to ensure anonymity and remove stigmas. From there, the two teachers see to it that the students’ needs are met. 

“It could be anything from maybe today I need to borrow a pencil, to I need you to call my mom and tell her that I had a good day today," DiMuzio said. “It’s all private. It is just to help us build a relationship with them,” said Noble. 

Oftentimes, the teachers find themselves reconstructing the way they teach or lead the class to better fit the needs of their students. When one student wrote they needed more responsibility, the teaching pair quickly reassessed the activities they had their students doing and who would be leading them. 

“We even had one student who put in ‘I need a friend’, said Dimuzio. “That told us that we needed some things to put in place to help our kids have better relationships with one another.” 

Dimuzio says that her teaching partner, Brittany Noble, was the reason their initiative took off. Noble posted about the box on Facebook asking for the community to give back. They never imagined the amount of traction they would receive. 

“We always told them that if we can fill it we’ll fill it and if we can’t, we’ll try our best,” said Noble. “We could only fill these for so long on our own before we need some help.” 

The teachers have collected hundreds of donations through their Facebook page, with more than $1,000 raised for the students’ needs. Noble said donations came from as far out as Texas, California, and Las Vegas. 

With the influx of donations the teachers received, the two have resorted to using lockers to store their donations of food, blankets, clothes, school supplies and personal hygiene items. To keep things discreet, Noble and Dimuzio use backpacks to give students their items. 

“Everyone’s ‘needs’ go into a backpack. So, if your needs are deodorant, soap, food, socks, a water bottle, anything more than just a pencil or school supplies, it goes into the backpack. That way, kids have no idea what someone’s ‘need’ was and it is all private,” said Noble. 

Lockers filled with food for students

Lockers are stored with food supplies and clothing items as a way of keeping a student’s needs private. 

With the project becoming so large, the two teachers now have their sights set on helping the entire school. 

“We’re hoping that with all the items that were given, the [5th grade] kids can help students in other grades, and build a community within the whole school,” said Noble. 

They are encouraging members of the community to visit students and volunteer in schools, as well.

“This is a great opportunity for the Carson community to ‘Be Present!’ with our students. Whether you can donate time or materials, we encourage community members to reach out and help fulfill our student’s ‘needs,’” said Principal Terrez Thomas. “I’m very proud of the work our teachers and students at Carson are doing to create a better community and culture.”

If you are interested in donating to the Carson School “I Need Box” you can call Carson School at (513) 363-9800 or follow their Facebook Page by clicking the link here:

If you are interested in volunteering in CPS schools, you can click the link here: 

Click here to watch the story coverage on Local 12.