Chatham Day School Students Aim to Make A Difference in South African Students' Lives As They Themselves Are Transformed
September 2007-May 2008.- At the beginning of the 2007-2008 school year, Chatham Day School (CDS), in conjunction with the Global Literacy Project, began piloting a Global Literacy Program. As an inaugural school in GLP's revamped School-To-School Partnership Program we sought to promote a thematic study of South Africa and provide reading and writing opportunities, that would be integrated with the Middle School social studies and language arts curricula.
A large part of the initial impetus of the program came out of a trip report that high school student Christina Vanech made about her experiences in South Africa. CDS head of school, Dr. Fiander, and CDS teacher Donna Greco realized that there was an opportunity to expand on CDS' commitment to make the world a better place, as well as supporting CDS' goal of students gaining an expanded world perspective, by participating in a school partnership.
The program selected a small Soweto school, Thabisile Primary School, as the partnership school. Thabisile provided a useful window into the struggle of present day South Africa to improve the condition of its people. Located in a materially very poor area, it is simultaneously very rich in cultural history and and a focus on self-transformation.
A large part of the program thus involved exposing CDS students to the history and culture of South Africa as well as the reasons why South African students place such an emphasis on education as a mechanism for reconciliation and community development. CDS students learnt about how important human rights are to the new South Africa and they got to compare the America Bill of Rights to South Africa's charter on human rights.
By the end of the first semester, the two schools were exchanging videos of each other's "Cultural Days" where they got to observe each other's dances and drama production.
During the spring semester, CDS students embarked on a needs assessment of their partnering school where they were challenged to come up with various responses about what needed to be done to improve educational access for South African students. Out of this, the students decided to help improve productivity by fundraising to purchase equipment for literacy programs at Thabisile and then to lead a book drive to create resource collections in every classroom of Thabisile.
The spring semester was enhanced by a visit from Mrs. Laura Peppetta, the Literacy consultant at Thabisile. She brought greetings from the students and faculty at Thabisile. While she visited, CDS students demonstrated how much they have learned about South Africa's history and culture. The faculty and students also presented Laura with a brand new Dell laptop which will allow Thabisile to become more productive.
On Monday, May 19, 2008 Chatham Day School and the Global Literacy Project celebrated the completion of this year-long School-to-School Partnership. Dr. Olubayi, president of GLP, presented CDS' head of school, Dr. Fiander with a plaque for the school; Mrs. Greco was recognized for her personal commitment, and each student in the fourth and sixth grades was given a Certificate of Commendation in recognition of Global Citizenship.
February-June 2007.- Students, parents and teachers at the Pingry School kicked off their book drive on February 2nd [Watch Videos: 1 | 2 ]. Spearheaded by students from the Bianco, Carver, Ramaswamy-Shekhar, Steele and Vanech families, the initial goal was to collect 25,000 books along with the necessary funds to ship them to South Africa this summer. However, the group ended up collecting twice that amount!
Critical to the success of this book drive was the way parents and then general community members from all across central New Jersey came out in support of the initiative. A most special acknowledgement has to be extended to the Headmaster as well as the faculty and staff of the Pingry School who went out of their way to support the students. The commitment was to the extent that Headmaster Nathaniel Conard supported the use of a room to sort and pack the books for the duration of the drive and the Director of Facilities, Mr. Michael Virzi arranged to provide pallets for the packed books and assisted the volunteers in how to stack and shrink wrap the finished collections.
Led by Christina Vanech, Emma and Chloe Carver, more than 150 volunteers came to the Pingry campus on Saturday, February 24, to sort through some 14,000 donated books. These included several thousands collected by Emma and Chloe's brothers, Sean and Reeve, along with their classmate Neeraj Shekhar, who concentrated on running book drives in the Pingry Elementary and Middle Schools.
Founded in 1891, Pingry now has 1,000 students on its two campuses in New Jersey. Students come from twelve counties and over ninety municipalities. The decision to support this project in aid of South African school children is an extension of the school's honor code, that: "They should act as responsible members of the community, working for the common good rather than solely for personal advantage. They should honor the rights of others, conducting themselves at all times in a moral and decent manner while at Pingry and throughout their lives as citizens of and contributors to the larger community of the world."
With such a successful start, the drive got a big boost when Mike Steele, drawing on his decades of experience in transportation and logistics, helped the volunteers reach out to willing companies and facilitated the arrangements for the container to South Africa. With that headache out of the way, the students could concentrate all their energies on book collecting.
Other New Jersey Schools Join-in To Support GLP/Pingry Book Drive
Throughout Middle Jersey more than a dozen schools decided to support our dream of creating libraries for South African School children as well as for children living in orphanages. Our point people, Christina Vanech, Emma Carver and Chloe Carver began spreading the word about the book drive with help from school mates Elizabeth Moore and Ross Millard. When Ross mentioned it to his siblings who attend different schools, they were so interested that Jane Steele (luckily for us) with the support of Anne Delaney and Denise Vanech, encouraged them to propose that we expand the drive to any interested nearby schools.
Christina' worked with her brother Nicky, a fifth grader at Chatham Day School (formerly the Darcy School), to quickly get his entire school involved.
With the support of Head of School, Dr. Pamela Fiander and the school's Community Service Coordinator, Mrs. Donna Greco, Chatham Day School would collect hundreds of books that Christina would eventually earmark for a small township school in Soweto, South Africa.
At the Willow School, Lilly Steele approached her Deputy Headmaster, Dr. Michael Kris to coordinate a school-wide book drive during the month of April.
Francis Steele led the drive at the Far Hills Country Day School where she saw the school community rally together to end up collecting over 8,000 books in fantastic condition.
Charlotte Steele and Ally Millard led the drive at Kent Place and then brought their school mates out on several weekends to sort and pack at the collecting site that Pingry provided. Other schools that jumped on board included the Golden Door Charter School, Harding Township School, Millburn and Summit High Schools, the Purnell School and the Cottage School.
Several community groups and institutions such as the Bernardsville Cub Scouts, the Clarence Dillon Library, the Chester Library and Kangaroo Kidz have all contributed.
More than just simply donating, many of our participants are using the book drive as a learning opportunity to learn about and highlight the wonderful diversity of cultures in Africa.
The book drive ran from February to May 2007. Books were also collected at Christ the King Church in New Vernon. A dozen students and their parents along with several teachers and the middle school's librarian also intend to travel to South Africa where they will help create a library in a school located in Randfontein.
December 2006.- Matthew Wille has an abiding love of books and the Flanders teen plans to extend his interest to promote literacy in Kenya. Matthew, 13, is collecting books and funds as part of the community action requirement for his bar mitzvah. The coming of age ceremony is scheduled for March 10 at Temple Hatikvah in Flanders.
Matthew hopes to collect 1,000 books and $4,000 in donations to pay the shipping costs. Global Literacy Project will in turn donate 19,000 books to the 1,000 collected by Matthew. All the books will be sent to Chamisiri section of Kenya. For more information please contact Matthew via Viki Willie at firstname.lastname@example.org. More...
Oak Knoll School First Grade Makes A Difference
November 2006.- Megan Watkins is a first grade teacher at Oak Knoll School (Summit, NJ), who decided to give new life to her "Spotlight on Literacy" reading system. She and her students donated enough books for 18 community learning center students.
Our "Global Citizens" include wonderful members of local organizations, such as perhaps Lions and Rotary Clubs or other NGOs, that help collect, sort and distribute books to happy recipients around the world.
South Amboy/Sayreville Rotary Chapter Helps Give Gift of Reading to Tobago Children
2003/2004.- GLP was very pleased to work with the South Amboy/Seyreville chapter of Rotary International in collecting books to contribute to primary school library collections on the small Caribbean island of Tobago.
With the help of the Rotarians, GLP eventually shipped over 18,000 books to Tobago where volunteer Jane Young-Anglin, working with the Tobago Rotary chapter (District 7030), spent two months distributing and installing the books in various school libraries, such as Mason Hall Primary seen here.
This was yet another example of the generosity shown by so many global citizens!
"The Power of Literacy and Why Global Citizenship Matters," by Emeka Onukaogu
Emeka Onukaogu describes the power of literacy in a letter sent to Denniston Bonadie in February 2002:
"Before 1966, it was common for the Nigerian primary and secondary school children to own books. Extensive and intensive reading was promoted at the school, community, regional and national levels through festivals of art and culture. Libraries were common in primary and secondary schools. State governments had mobile libraries that made books available in rural areas all over the country. Opportunity to self-develop through home education and correspondence schools were common. Rapid Results College, School of Careers and Wolsley Hall were some correspondence schools that capitalized on the desire by our people to profit from long distance education. Long distance, education thrived then because books were available everywhere..."
"I am, for instance, a living testimony of what books and reading empowerment can do. My parents were only able to give me basic secondary school education. During my secondary school days, I was taught Literature and English Language by an American Peace Corps volunteer from Massachusetts - one Mr. B.A Cornel. He taught me how to read and encouraged my colleagues and me to read extensively. Thus after my secondary school education, I was able to self-teach myself at home and accordingly I took the University of London General Certificate of Education (A Level) examination at home. I passed at a sitting all the 3 papers I enrolled for in that examintion. If I had gone to a higher school, I would have spent two years to get that certificate. However, because of the reading empowerment I acquired in my secondary school days through the help of Mr. B.A Cornel, I stayed at home and through self-tutoring, was able in less than 9 months to prepare for and pass that examination."
"Today, the privileges the Nigerian child enjoyed in the 60's regarding book ownership are nowhere to be found. When the Nigerian Military took over governance in 1966, it ...destroyed our educational system...With the destruction of the book culture, the critical thinking ability of the Nigerian child was crippled... Today, the Military is no more in authority. We have regained our freedom... One way to maintain our freedom is to revive and revitalize the reading/book culture in our country. That is why the Reading Association of Nigeria, which I head, is excited about your [Global Literacy Project] promise and willingness to ship books to Nigeria..."