Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Derry Teacher Honored for Work with Kids in Need Program

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Derry Teacher Honored for Work with Kids in Need Program

Article excerpt

David McCleary calls himself an "idea man," but when he talks about KIND, or the Kids in Need in Derry program, he is quick to point out that it isn't his project, but one that came together through the work of many.

"This never would have happened without a group of folks. I'm just one," he said.

Mr. McCleary, a learning support teacher at the Derry Area High School, was recently honored by the American Red Cross Western Pennsylvania Region with the Educator Hero Award for his work with Kids in Need.

"Our Educator Hero Award serves to recognize and honor an individual from the education field who goes above and beyond the call of duty. Mr. McCleary is certainly fitting of that description and deserving of the award," said Lauren Ashley, regional communications officer for the American Red Cross, Western Pennsylvania Region.

Ms. Ashley said Mr. McCleary's efforts - especially with KIND - made him stand out.

"His contributions to the district and the community have been significant. From spearheading Kid in Need to helping to arrange service opportunities for students, Mr. McCleary shows dedication to education, commitment to his students and compassion for those in need," she said.

Kids in Need is a program that helps provide supplies for educational programs to families in the district who may need help.

"We provide things that can be tied into education - that can be supplies, that can be gym shoes, that could be a yearbook," Mr. McCleary said.

KIND started four years ago after a faculty meeting. Mr. McCleary said principal Kathy Perry told teachers that nine students at the school could not go through graduation ceremonies because they couldn't afford their caps and gowns.

"We all looked at her and then everyone started reaching into their pockets to collect enough money," he said.

That prompted further conversations and the creation of KIND. The group works under the Derry Area Foundation non-profit organization.

"One night, I was stressing the whole evening over what we could call it - I wanted something catchy - and my friend said, 'What about KIND, Kids in Need in Derry?'" Mr. McCleary said.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education PA School Performance Profile, 37 percent of the 750 students at Derry Area High School and 45 percent of the 510 students at the middle school are considered economically disadvantaged. …

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