Official Article for Red Cross Hero Award, 2001
Anthony “Tony” Odierna is a social studies teacher at the Timothy Edwards Middle School in South Windsor. Tony is dedicated not only to teaching his students the important lessons of history, but also to motivating them to reach beyond themselves to better the lives of others.
Several years ago, Tony began a voluntary, informal community service group for his eighth grade students. This informal group began doing small, varied projects that soon grew into highly involved community enrichment programs which lead to the formation of the highly successful M.A.G.I.C. Club (Making America Great Involves Commitment).
In the M.A.G.I.C. Club, students take active roles in the fundraising and management of the projects they create. Tony says that any effort, large or small, can become the focus of a M.A.G.I.C. project, as long as it meets any defined need in the community. This allows the students to not only give of themselves to others, but also to be creative while doing so.
An important part of the M.A.G.I.C. Club is its inclusiveness. One does not have to be an athlete, have a musical talent or be a great scholar to join; one simply needs to be willing to become involved in their community, willing to help others, and not be afraid of some hard work.
In recent years, projects have included the development of an international cultural exchange program with students in Uzbekistan in which students reached out to children their own age on the other side of the world. Not surprisingly, the M.A.G.I.C. program is now a permanent, formal offering at the Timothy Edwards Middle School.
Tony’s lasting hope is that all of his students remain involved in their communities for the rest of their lives. He believes that “the essence of democracy is citizen involvement” and that students are never too young to learn about the various needs of people in their communities. As a direct result of Tony Odierna’s efforts over his long and highly dedicated teaching career, countless young people have experienced the value, rewards and fun of community service for the first time.