The following three groups were the first winners of the

EXCELLENCE IN EDUCATION AWARDS – 2016

 

Recipients: Dr. James Badger, Beth White, and Hattie Burchardt – International Community School – DeKalb County, Georgia

Title: Successfully Creating a Diverse Community of Refugee, Immigrant, and Local Children Learning Together

Dr. James Badger, Eileen Venezia, Beth White, Hattier Burchardt

Dr. James Badger, Eileen Venezia, Beth White, Hattier Burchardt

Submission: The International Community School is a tuition free charter school that was established by a group of educators, religious leaders, business professionals, community activists, and parents to address the educational circumstances of the thousands of refugees from all over the world relocated in Dekalb County, Georgia. The staff at ICS includes many refugees as well. ICS is not a school for refugees or a school for American children. Instead, it is a school where community is built around both groups under the idea that neither group can properly learn without the other. Each year, ICS celebrates United Nations Day with more then 30 cultural and ethnic groups. Twenty five languages are represented here. One of the many highlights of our school is the teacher visitation program. During the summer months teachers from ICS will visit students’ families in refugee camps in their native country. This past year two current ICS teachers volunteered and met with family members of students living in camps in Thailand. Before the visit ICS students raised funds to purchase supplies for the students and teachers in their makeshift classrooms. Here, the teachers from ICS learned more about the background of their own students, and, were able to assist the teachers in the camp. The value of this experience for both teacher and student cannot be measured and we hope to incorporate this as a primary aspect of our school.

Please visit our website for some of our exchange visits and our ICS students here in Georgia:  www.icsgeorgia.org

 

Recipient: Haimi Haile  School: Georgia State University- Atlanta, Georgia

Title: Voices of Hope

Mina Veazie, Haimi Haile, Gwen Benson, Eileen Venezia

Mina Veazie, Haimi Haile, Gwen Benson, Eileen Venezia

Submission:   Inspired by CTAUN ATLANTA 2016 Conference, “Welcoming New Americans: Immigrants and Refugees Strengthen Our Community” Ms. Haimi Haile has designed a curriculum for a community organization D’AIR/Clarkston Community Project (CCC). The D’AIR is a not for profit community arts organization located in the heart of Grant Park neighborhood with a mission to enrich and foster positive youth development through movement arts and cultural dances. One of DAIR’s/CCC’s major initiatives is to celebrate diversity through cultural education. In Atlanta, we don’t have to look past our own backyard to see a beautiful array of people from all over the world. With a major influx of refugees over the years, Clarkston has increasingly become one of the nation’s most diverse cities per square mile. Ms. Haile, an immigrant of Ethiopia and resident of the Clarkston community herself, is heavily entrenched in the refugee community and recognizes the need to continue to serve our new Americans and the value of the D’AIRR/CCC initiative in fostering a welcoming environment for refugees and immigrants. This curriculum encourages students of D’AIR/CCC to examine what they know and think about refugees and explore the fears and hopes of refugees today. Lessons are taught through exchange of cultural dances, plays/drawings, and communication. Students are introduced to the subject of refugee/asylum seeker. Students appreciate the variety of different needs a refugee has in moving to a new country and are able to identify items they think would be most useful to refugees.

 

Recipients: Grade 7 Teachers  – The Keith Valley Middle School of Horsham, Pennsylvania

Title: Wishing for Wells: Water for South Sudan

Keith-Valley-Middle-School-Grade-7-staff-with-AssistantPrincipal-Sarah-Beltz-Liz-Daleandro-Heather-Elvidge-Dawn-Gallagher-Nicole-McClure-and-Meghan-Stuzinski Principal Sarah Beltz, Liz Daleandro, Heather Elvidge, Dawn Gallagher, Nicole McClure, Meghan Stuzinski

Keith Valley Middle School Grade 7 staff: AssistantPrincipal-Sarah-Beltz-Liz-Daleandro-Heather-Elvidge-Dawn-Gallagher-Nicole-McClure-and-Meghan-Stuzinski

Submission:  Wishing for Wells: Water for South Sudan- Our 400 seventh grade students at Keith Valley Middle School participated in a year-long exploration of access to water worldwide, led by teachers Sarah Beltz, Liz Daleandro, Heather Elvidge, Dawn Gallagher, Nicole McClure, and Meghan Struzinski. All seventh grade students read  A Long Walk to Water in Language Arts classes in the fall. Over 100 students volunteered to be on committees to raise awareness and money for a well in South Sudan. Inspired by the story of Salva Dut, they wanted to grant access to clean water for kids like them in South Sudan. This parallels one of the United Nation’s sustainable development goals. Students reflected throughout on how we take our own water access in Pennsylvania for granted. Social studies and science teachers wove in lessons about access to water to their geography and ecology curricula. At a press event in December, students demonstrated how water is carried in South Sudan and walked around our school. They learned empathy for students across the globe and, they wanted to help.

Our seventh grade goal was to raise $5,000 so that we could purchase a well in South Sudan. Students and teachers organized press releases, fundraisers, bake-sales, gift basket raffles, t-shirt contests, a celebration of World Water Day, and a grade-wide Lip Sync to successfully meet and exceed their goal of $5,000 by the end of May. In addition to clean, accessible water, this will allow students to possibly get an education as their basic need of water is met. Our students’ research and activism will contribute to changing the lives in South Sudan.