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Gifts from the Heart — Students Help Local Family in Need

Mr. Harb’s 5th grade class at the Fairmont North Tustin Campus recently worked with Connecting Hands OC to adopt a family and ensure it was able to have gifts and necessary provisions during the holiday season.

Harb said that it’s been his goal since the beginning of the school year to find a way to do something different for class parties, particularly the annual holiday party. Rather than having the students buy gifts for one another and exchange them as part of the Secret Santa tradition, he wanted them to be part of a gift-giving experience that was a bit more meaningful.

“I wanted it to be about more than the kids,” Harb said. “At this age, they’re able to do more, they’re able to understand more, and they’re ready to see beyond our class and beyond our campus and to know that there’s a community out there that can benefit from these types of activities and from coming together and thinking about other people who maybe aren’t as fortunate as they are.”

Students decorated a special Christmas tree to deliver to their adopted family.

When a representative from Connecting Hands OC spoke at a North Tustin Fairmont Parent Association meeting this fall, Sheila Pirzadeh, mother of a student in Harb’s class, knew that the opportunity to work with this particular organization was exactly what they were looking for.

“We’ve always been looking for ways for the kids to get involved, and this seemed like an ideal one,” she said. “With the small list of things they were asking for and being able to give them the tree, too, I think the kids could identify with it all. It taught them to think about others rather than themselves.”

Harb said the immediate responses he received from his students’ parents were full of enthusiasm to pitch in — and Harb’s students were equally as excited to be able to help others rather than focus on receiving gifts for themselves during the holiday party.

“My mom and I watch Ellen a lot, so we’ve always wanted to do something like this,” Sofia V. said. “I feel like I’m doing something good, and instead of giving back to myself, I get to give back to the community.”

After placing their many heartfelt gifts in the front of the room, the students spent their time during the party decorating the tree and creating crafts with which to adorn it. On Wednesday, December 20, Harb, Pirzadeh, and some of the students were able to deliver the gifts to the local family, who was beyond grateful to receive them from the joyous crew.

“That’s what it’s all about,” Pirzadeh said. “It’s about giving and being generous and compassionate and empathetic to the situations of others, and it’s nice to give back to the community. That’s what we’re here for — to help others and make the world better — and this is a little tiny way that we can do that as a class.”

And this experience is one that Harb wishes the students will remember in years to come.

“Anything we can do to help others, especially during the holidays, is a great experience for them to learn at a young age,” he said. “The hope is that this carries with them so that every holiday season, they’re thinking about more than themselves.”

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Shelby Wagner - 1st Grade Teacher Fairmont Historic AnaheimTop Teacher & Skating Champion
Shelby “My favorite part of being a teacher is the children I get to teach.”
  • Is one of the head teachers for the Fountain Valley Artistic Skating Club, teaching regional and national champions. She also teaches beginner classes every Saturday morning.
  • Every year, her students are amazed to find that their teacher has a life outside of the classroom.
“I love feeling like I’m part of a family [at Fairmont].”
Keira Kamath - 5th Grade Fairmont Anaheim HillsScience & Tennis Superstar
keira “I like how there are so many different specialty classes at Fairmont Anaheim Hills, like art, music, PE, science lab, computer lab, and Spanish.”
  • She would like to be a professional tennis player when she grows up, or maybe a doctor.
  • Loves dance and plays the piano
  • Her favorite class is science “because you get to figure out stuff, and I like to do experiments.”
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nicolas“The teachers and the amount of support they provide to not only me, but to the whole entire community here at Fairmont is probably what I like most about attending Fairmont Historic Anaheim.”
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dancing"What I like most about Fairmont is that I get to learn and meet new friends.”
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Nicole "The best part about teaching at Fairmont is being able to work with a diverse group of students who are all incredibly talented. It is amazing to be able to challenge students at such a young age and watch these children grow throughout the year.”
  • Loves camping, reading, and traveling
  • Her students love learning random things about her – like the fact that when she was in kindergarten she wanted to be Spiderman when she grew up.
  • Her proudest moments are the times when a student on campus is excited to see her, oftentimes telling her that she’s “the best teacher in the world.” “I live for those moments.”
“I choose to teach at Fairmont because of the sense of community, as well as the drive for our students to succeed.”
DJ Clovis - Music Teacher Fairmont North TustinRunning to the Rhythm
DJ Clovis “I get to work with amazing staff, faculty, parents, and most importantly, students!”
  • Teaches music to all grades — from pre-kindergarten through 8th grade
  • Coaches (or has coached) football, basketball, and Run Club
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