Suburban English teacher instills spirit of giving in students

ROSELLE, Ill. -- In the season of giving, WGN is honoring a teacher who instills that same spirit in her students all year long. It’s not a lesson that’s part of Darcie Murray’s official curriculum, but it’s one she’s spreading among her students.

“Sometimes people just need a little help," Ian Bostelman, a Lake Park High School student, said.

And sometimes, it’s a fellow student.

“I never really knew how many homeless families there were in our school, and once she said the number I was like, wow," Angelina Rodriguez, nominating student, said.

The reality comes as a surprise to many of the students at Lake Park High School in west suburban Roselle, Ill.

“When the students hear of these stories they look around their classroom and it could be one of them, we don’t know, and that’s typically what hooks them in.," English teacher Darcie Murray said.

What hooked Murray was a story she heard back in 2002. It was about the struggles of a former student – and she shared it with her class.

“And the story was pretty sad, and one of my students said, ‘Why don’t we do something to help?’” Murray said.

What began as a simple suggestion has grown into a school-wide effort led by Murray to benefit Lake Park families in need. It’s called ‘Together Helping Others.’

“I just think if I was in that situation and how I would feel if someone were to help me when I really needed it," Ian Bostelman said.

“I’m a freshman. I don’t have a lot to give so any way that I can help. I designed the t-shirt," Carolyn Sagi, a Lake Park High School student, said.

There’s a way for everyone to contribute. The students design and sell t-shirts, host bake sales and collect donations. Over the years they’ve raised $30,000 for the fund, but it’s the spirit of giving her students have embraced and that’s been a sweet surprise for Mrs Murray.

“It’s amazing how wonderful they can be and when you least expect it, it comes out of them," Murray said.

“I started doing more community service, and it really showed me the kind of person she was," Rodriguez said.

“I have a student who every year says, ‘Is it time for fliers? Is it time for posters?’ And she makes me these beautiful, handmade posters that she wants me to put up in the hallways and at the bake sale. It’s just so awesome getting to see them, the students, in such a different way," Murray said.

To honor Murray, Saint Xavier University presented her with a $1,000 check. And, yes, she plans to put the money to good use.

“Student success isn’t just about success in academics -- it’s success in the way they lead their lives. And she’s truly a role model in helping and teaching students to be giving and to not be all about themselves, Jane Lundin, Saint Xavier University, said.

"It’s just a great way to get them involved in something beyond themselves and to teach them that every little bit does help and that they can make a change here," Murray said.