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Grant connects students from Arizona to South Africa


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  • Erin Dunsey/Peoria Unified School District

Pen Pals In Seamount Primary In Milnerton, South Africa

Kim Jones, a sixth-grade English/Language Arts and Social Studies teacher at Sky View Elementary School recently received a grant from the Peoria Education Foundation to fund a literary-based project for her class called “Across the Big Water: A Cultural Communication Project with South African Students.”

This year, the Foundation granted $28,000 to Peoria Unified teacher for projects in science, literacy, technology and the arts.

Grant connects students from Arizona to South Africa Pen-Pals-in-South-AfricaHPandInside

South African learners wearing holding up their Sky View t-shirts. Photo courtesy Peoria Unified School District

During a trip to South Africa last summer, Jones made contact with a local headmaster and introduced her project idea to share lines of communication. They found a local teacher from Seamount Primary in Milnerton, South Africa eager to assist with the project. When school began in August, Jones’ students began exchanging letters and photos with students in South Africa.

Throughout the 2014-15 school year, students have explored social studies concepts, English/Language Arts and the use of technology while working on this project. An app allows students to send “shout-outs” to each other and recently, Jones shared photos of South African learners, as they’re called, wearing Sky View t-shirts. Through Jones’ project, Sky View students learned they are not very different from their South African counterparts.

Once Jones learned she received a grant from the Foundation to further the project, Sky View students expanded their communication by sharing cultural exchange items such as personalized pencils, bookmarks, school t-shirts, state coins and more.

“What a great opportunity for any teacher to have a project this size turn out better than planned thanks to this grant,” stated Jones. “It’s been an awesome feeling for me to have our plan grow and for Sky View to have made this connection with a school across the world. While they anticipate the arrival of another package before the start of the next school year, Jones added “Neither side said the project is concluded!”

Since 1987, the Peoria Education Foundation has offered grants to teachers in the Peoria Unified School District to enhance the educational experience of students.  The Foundation is an IRS designated 501(c)(3) which provides scholarships to students and grants to teachers within the district. The Foundation incurs no administrative costs and every penny of every dollar goes towards meeting the mission of the Foundation.