Be a Good Citizen

Written by Brittany Smith


Mary Kate explores her community with her dad as she hopes to find a way to be someone who helps people when she grows up. Mary Kate learns that she can grow up to be a good citizen by giving back, helping others, and serving her community.

Keywords: good citizenship, core values, service

“Who do you want to be when you grow up?” asked Mary Kate’s teacher.

Everyone around Mary Kate waved their hands in the air. They all had an answer.

“I want to be a teacher!”


“A lawyer!”

“Soccer player!”

“How about you, Mary Kate?” Ms. Johnson asked.

“I don’t know,” she said. And that bothered her.

It bothered Mary Kate during lunch, during music class, and during gym.

It was still bothering her when her dad picked her up after school.

“I don’t know who I want to be when I grow up,” Mary Kate told her dad.

“Well,” her dad said, “what makes you happy?”

“Last week I went to the pool with Kayla,” Mary Kate said. “That made me happy. And selling cookies at the charity bake sale was fun.”

Mary Kate thought of another thing. “We found that man’s pet parrot, remember? It made me happy that we helped him.”

“Maybe you want to be someone who helps people, then?” her dad suggested.

“’Helper’ isn’t a job, Dad,” Mary Kate replied.

“Of course, it is!” her dad said. “Lot of jobs are all about helping to make the world a better place.

Mary Kate wasn’t too sure.

“Let’s take the long way home,” Mary Kate’s dad said. “I want to show you some people who have jobs helping others.”

“We’ll start right here, at your school,” Mary Kate’s dad said. “Who do you see?”

“I see my teacher,” said Mary Kate. “And I see the crossing guard.”

“Your teacher helps you learn, and the crossing guard helps you stay safe,” said Mary Kate’s dad.

Mary Kate had never thought of it that way.

“Let’s see who else we can find!” said Mary Kate’s dad.

A man in a white coat walking a dog gave Mary Kate a friendly wave.

“He’s a veterinarian,” Mary Kate’s dad told her. “He helps people by making their pets feel better.”

“Some people help their town by joining the police force. Or they help their whole country by joining the military.” Mary Kate’s dad told her.

“They help by keeping us safe!” Mary Kate said.

Mary Kate and her dad overheard the policeman ask an older woman, “May I walk you to the library, ma’am?”

“Let’s stop at the library, Mary Kate,” said her dad.

“Hi,” whispered the librarian. “Do you need help finding a book? I could also sign you up for our book club!”

“Yes! Thank you,” Mary Kate whispered.

 “Happy to help,” the librarian whispered back.

“Let’s go to the park, Dad!” said Mary Kate.

“Can you spot the helpers here?” Mary Kate’s dad asked her.

Mary Kate looked around.

She saw an activist asking those passing by to sign a petition.

She saw a gardener in a city uniform.

And she saw…

“The garbage man!” Mary Kate exclaimed. “He’s helping by keeping our city clean and beautiful.”

There really were helpers everywhere.

Next Mary Kate and her dad passed a church.

The pastor was out front.

“What’s your favorite think about your job?” Mary Kate asked him.

“Helping other people!” he said. “I also like volunteering at the soup kitchen next door,” he added.

“Can we help with that, too?” Mary Kate asked.

They worked at the soup kitchen until Mary Kate’s dad’s phone buzzed.

“Want to go meet Mom at her office?” Mary Kate’s dad asked.

On the way, a reporter was interviewing a fireman who’d rescued a kitten.

“Journalists make sure we know what’s happening,” Mary Kate’s dad said.

“You should take that cat to a veterinarian in case it’s hurt,” Mary Kate told the fireman. “There’s one right down the street!”

Soon Mary Kate and her dad arrived to meet her mom.

“Mom!” Mary Kate yelled, and ran to hug her.

Mary Kate’s mom worked at the mayor’s office, because Mary Kate’s mom was the mayor!

“I’m learning all about service,” Mary Kate said. “Do you help people?”

“I do!” her mom said. “My job is to help the people of this city by listening to them and passing laws to make their lives better.”

Mary Kate had a lot to think about. There were so many different ways of helping people and so many different jobs to choose from.

“I still don’t know who I want to be when I grow up,” she told her dad. “But I know one thing… I want to be a helper.”

Mary Kate’s parents smiled at her.

“Good citizenship is when one properly fulfills their role as a citizen,” her dad told her. “No matter who you choose to be, always choose to be a good citizen.”


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Humanizing Science through STEAM Challenges Copyright © 2021 by E.J. Bahng and John M. Hauptman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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