Photography by John Hryniuk Image by: Photography by John Hryniuk
She was saddened by what she saw there: kids with no school to go to and young women on the streets at night. "I discovered that poverty is complex, and I felt powerless to help," says the teacher from Ontario's Niagara Region. Her first thought was to share her feelings with her students to inspire them to step up and get involved.
The truth is, Heather Ferretti herself is probably the inciting incident. You know how people who have achieved great things often say, "It all began with one teacher who inspired me"? Heather is that teacher.
Her Me to We Journey
In her first year of teaching, she started a Me to We club for students, and over the years they have collected money for local food banks, sung Christmas carols, raised money to buy a stable of animals in India, raised money for an orphanage in Tanzania and a school in Kenya, and started an annual spring carnival to raise money for children in need. Her kids have sold cupcakes, bracelets and necklaces. They have brought in loose change for the cause. One kid gave her a quarter, saying, "I was thinking it could buy a pencil."
Colleagues use terms like "infectious enthusiasm" and "natural leader" to describe her. And infectious her enthusiasm must be. If it can persuade a kindergarten kid to give a quarter for a pencil, you just know that in 2032, when that kid is installing a well in the sub-Saharan desert and someone asks, "Was there any particular inciting incident that set you on this path?" that kid is going to squint against the equatorial sun and say: "Well, there was this one teacher named Heather Ferretti…."
|This story was originally titled "Me to We Award Winners" in the October 2013 issue. |
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