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2008 News Highlights

Girl Scout Brings Gold to South Africa’s Youngest Students

Christina Vanech at opening of kindergarten room
Christina Vanech in new kindergarten room

In August 2008 Thabisile Primary School saw South African teachers, educational officers and community development agents, as well as parents from communities surrounding the school's campus in Soweto, all coming to visit and leaving thoroughly impressed. The reason? A model kindergarten room created as a Girl Scout Gold Award project by Christina Vanech.

“The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest award that a Girl Scout 14-18 may earn.” According to the Girl Scouts, the award could be described as being "what you really want to be remembered for" in Girl Scouting. For many, the leadership skills, organizational skills, and sense of community and commitment that come from "going for the Gold" set the foundation for a lifetime of active citizenship.”

Visitors to the model kindergarten created by Christina suggested that the room ought to be the standard for kindergartens in their schools as well. More...

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News Clips...

Students Support International Literacy Day with "Backpacks for Kids"
Hayley Diverio and Alexis Grieco of Gill St. Bernard's
Hayley Diverio and Alexis Grieco

Gladstone, NJ, September 10, 2008-- Alexis Grieco and Hayley Diverio (right to left in photo) are working hard so that dozens of children in Kenyan slum schools will celebrate the start of their school year with a back-to-school gift from charitable Gill St. Bernard’s students. More...

CDS Students Raise Funds for South African School
CDS Students Raise Funds for South African School

May 7.- Designed by Mrs. Pamela Klurfield, students in grades four and six made and sold beautiful beaded bracelets this week in a special Global Literacy Project fundraiser.  The proceeds of over $350 will help purchase anthologies for the Thabisile School in Soweto, South Africa. More...

Easing the Transition to English for New Jersey Kindergarten Students
Lissette reading bilingual LeapFrog book to kindergarteners

May 7, 2008.- GLP, through the aid of Rutgers student volunteers, began a small pilot to provide kindergarten students in New Brunswick, New Jersey with bilingual books. Utilizing LeapFrog interactive books, the expectation is that this approach will ease the transition from the mother language spoken at home to the general use of English.

GLP is working on a wider pilot that will kick off in September 2008. At that point, kindergartners will be encouraged to take the books home and have them sit down to read with an older family member.

Mountain Way Goes "Above and Beyond"!
Erin Kramer with donations from Mountain Way School

Feb. 28, 2008.- The Mountain Way Kindergarten School in Morris Plains held a book drive in support of GLP as a part of their character education program, What a Character!  In this program the students attend meetings with their grade level and are introduced to themes relating to good character.  For the second quarter, the school's theme was We Care, a study of compassion and caring.

The book drive was set up in this quarter as an Above and Beyond activity the students could choose to participate in.  Information was sent home explaining the project and students sorted through their old books at home, or purchased new books and writing supplies to add to the ever-growing pile of collections in our school lobby.

Community organizations were involved as well.  The Morris Plains Borough Library and Community Center advertised the book drive for us and served as a secondary collection spots.  They played a big part in the success of this activity.

Third Grade Students Make New Friends in South Africa
Pingry third grade students

February 2008.- Pingry third graders have been making new friends with their peers from Zuubrkom Intermediate School in South Africa. More...


Teen Aims to Transform Children's World

Milena Lurie reads with her excited young hosts
Milena Lurie reading with young residents of Lady Lynn Orphanage

June 2008.- 14-year-old Milena Lurie and her mother heard of the Global Literacy Project's work in 2006 through mutual acquaintences of high school sophomore Christina Vanech. They were impressed how Christina's family and peers at the Pingry School in New Jersey worked with the organization and other schools in the area to collect and ship thousands of books to disadvantaged students in Johannesburg, South Africa.

At the time, the Global Literacy Project was working at Kadalure Village, in Tamil Nadu (South India), at the Delta Training Campus where a high quality reference library for young women from poor rural communities pursuing careers in nursing was established. Milena’s and her mother’s involvement subsequently enabled the Global Literacy Project to expand its focus to include the Lady Lynn Joyful Home orphanage, (run by the Integrated Rural Development Center, IRDC, which provides relief to the rural areas of Pudukottai District) and ten additional village schools in Gandharvakottai

With a tremendous response from her friends and well-wishers, Lurie was able to collect books on a wide range of subjects and received surprise donations from Disney Books and Scholastic Publishers as well. With several months of often intense following up she ended up collecting close to 50,000 books! A portion of these books was given to the Lady Lynn Joyful Home and the remainder is reserved for the ten village schools. In recognition of this enormous gesture of good will, as well as the fact that Milena decided to follow the books to India where she volunteered to help set up the actual library room, the Global Literacy Project decided to name the orphanage library in her honor.

Read about Milena's project in SPAN, the magazine of the American Embassy in New Delhi HERE.

Chatham Day School Students Recognized for Commitment to Global Outreach and Awareness with South African School

2008 CDS Global CitizensMay 19.- Over the past academic year, Chatham Day School has partnered with the Thabisile School in Soweto, South Africa, to bring a global awareness to students on both continents.

The year-long initiative, encompassed global exchanges, such as pen pal letters, videotape and photo stories, community service events, book drives and an infusion of each country’s history and culture into their respective social studies curriculum.  The Chatham Day School students also hosted a visitor from Thabisile during the month of February and in return, the students of Thabisile will host a Chatham Day School teacher in August.

L->R: Dr. Edward Ramsamy of GLP; Dr. Pamela Fiander, Head of School--Chatham Day School; Dr. Olubayi Olubayi of GLP
Dr. Pamela Fiander

In February, Chatham Day School students sold baked goods that they prepared at school and raised enough money to purchase the Thabisile School’s first computer. In May, self-made bracelets were sold by the students to raise funds for anthologies for the African school, as well.

On Monday, Chatham Day School (CDS) and Global Literacy Project, Inc. (GLP) celebrated the completion of this year-long School-to-School Partnership.   Dr. Olubayi, president of GLP, presented 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. GLP decided to recognize the students with commendation certificates as their participating in the global outreach fulfilled the five areas of Global Citizenship by:

Donna Greco, Community Service Director
Donna Greco
  1. Demonstrating awareness of the fact that we share the world with other people, and that events in one part of the world affect people in other parts
  2. Engaging in active service learning projects to meet the needs of other people abroad, and to deepen their own ability to make a difference
  3. Reaching out to persons outside their own culture with the aim of promoting inter-cultural understanding, and personal sense of membership in a broad global community
  4. Showing a sense of tolerance and respect for diversity
  5. Developing empathy with, and an active concern for people in other countries, and reflect on questions of interdependence, social justice and equity.

GLP also recognized the school under the leadership of Dr. Pamela Fiander and its community service director, Mrs. Donna Greco. (See also this Chatham Courier article)

Mountain Lakes Girl Scouts Reach Out to Assist African Students with Community-wide Book Drive

Ramsamy presentation to Girl ScoutsMay 16, 2008.- GLP Trustees Edward Ramsamy and Kavitha Ramachandran recently visited with Abby Kimmelman and her friends to talk about what kind of impact New Jersey students can have to make a difference for students in Africa. Abby Kimmelman is a student at the Pingry School in Martinsville, NJ where she got to know about GLP through the GLP Club there.   As part of her Girl Scout Silver Awards project, she and 6 other girls form her Girl Scout troop in Mountain Lakes, New Jersey are working on a town-wide book drive to help benefit GLP. They have already collected several thousand books. Ramsamy gave the scout troop some first hand recollections from his youth growing up in apartheid South Africa.

Middle School Students Make "Pie" Faces Out of Their Teachers as GLP Fundraiser

Pie toss at teacher

May 14, 2008.-Pingry Middle School students raised $2,730.25 for GLP when students threw pies at their teachers at a cost of five dollars per pie.

The activity was hosted by the Middle School's Global Literacy Club and they intend to sponsor a kindergarten renovation with the monies collected.

Grade 6 Students at the Pingry Middle School Use Their Birthdays to Support African Kindergartens

Pingry 6th GradeMay 7, 2008.- Eight Grade 6 students at the Pingry Middle School recently decided to use their birthday celebration to give a collective gift to the Global Literacy Project (GLP).

Their school mates, Sean and Reeve Carver and Neeraj Shekhar had visited South Africa the previous summer and returned with the quest to help improve several of the elementary and kindergarten classrooms in the schools they visited on a follow-up trip slated for summer 2008.

Drew Topor, Camille Vanasse, Nikky Zezza, Lizzie Abbott, Morgan Wahby, Haley LaFontaine, Mikaela Lewis, and Kyle Casey asked their families and other Grade 6 families to make donations to GLP in lieu of receiving presents for their birthdays. To show their support, the families raised $5,000. On May 7, 2008, the students presented a ceremonial check to GLP representative Dr. Emeka Akaezuwa.

GLP Supporters Join with the American Business Editor of The Economist To Talk About the "New" Philanthropy

Olubayi Olubayi, Christina Vanech, Edward Ramsamy (moderator), Jeanette Goodson, Matthew Bishop
The New Philanthropy

April 29, 2008.- An animated group of speakers came together at Rutgers University to explore the relationship between philanthropy and politics (view copy of program poster HERE).

Held in the Scholarly Communication Center Lecture Hall of Alexander Library on the College Avenue campus, "The New Philanthropy: Prospects and Challenges" panel featured members, volunteers and partners of The Global Literacy Project, Inc.,  along with Matthew Bishop, the American business editor of The Economist and the publication's chief business writer. More...

Girlyn Miguel Literacy Donation to St. Vincent and the Grenadines Will Make An Impact According to Ministry Officials

Nicole Bonadie-BakerAt the end of February the island nation of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) officially distributed its first GLP consignment of books and literacy support materials.

The outcome of nearly two years of discussions between The Global Literacy Project and the Education Project Management Unit of SVG, the donation was in response to a troubling trend where teaching professionals were seeing reading failure in schools as early as kindergarten; a trend that was even more compounded as children moved through the education system.

After an analysis of the 2005 Grade 6 Reading Assessment carried out by the SVG government revealed that in certain areas over sixty percent of the students were reading two years behind their chronological age, the SVG Ministry of Education embarked on an aggressive reading and writing intervention where they reached out for support from the European Union, GLP and other potential partners for resource support. GLP in evaluating the state of education in SVG concluded that a major requirement was the need for a culture of reading to be spread throughout the island starting from the kindergarten and primary school level. This in turn required a general availability of books! Thus the idea of the initial contribution from GLP was developed. This proactive intervention by the SVG government has seen a dramatic turn around in performance throughout the island with the results of the 2007 Grade 6 Reading Assessment showing a marked improvement in reading abilities. Some 58.6% of Grade 6 students are now reading at or above above the Grade 6 Level. This has recommitted the SVG government to continue its literacy interventions as the aim is for all students to read at their appropriate grade levels.

The core component of the GLP donation will be the establishment of library collections in twelve Community Learning Centers throughout the nation. Another part of the collection established:

  • A Math resource section in the island's sole community college
  • A resource section of up-to-date nursing books for the island's School of Nursing
  • Reading collections in 26 secondary schools
  • A systematic reading/writing intervention program for six primary schools with the lowest reading/writing scores
  • Science units in over a dozen secondary schools

In receiving the donation, SVG's Minister of Education, the Hon. Girlyn Miguel stressed the timeliness and usefulness of the materials. Video of Acknowledgement...

New Jersey Students Work to Help Transform Education for Partner School in South Africa

Chatham Day School students packing books for their South African partner schoolFebruary 25, 2008.-The students of Chatham Day School (CDS), located in northern New Jersey, are taking a hands-on approach to cross-cultural learning and understanding.

Working with the assistance of the Global Literacy Project, Chatham Day School has partnered with a South African primary school named Thabisile Primary School. Thabisile is a small township school located in one of the poorest areas of Soweto.

Integrated into the Middle School social studies and language arts curricula the purpose of the program is to enable intercultural dialogue and to increase knowledge and understanding of each other's societies. The partnership program has become and exciting and effective way of providing learners with an understanding and knowledge of the world.This year's partnership is culminating with CDS students collecting textbooks and other appropriate educational materials, including teacher manuals, for every grade of Thabisile school. Their donations will create for the first time, learning libraries in each classroom of Thabisile. The students have also helped to upgrade productivity tools for Thabisile teachers by providing a laptop for instructional use as well as a video camcorder to enable cross school dialogue from South Africa to the USA.

CDS students also now see development issues as personal rather than theoretical as a result of communicating directly with Thabisile students and hosting a teacher from Thabisile. "Our students are now more enthused and willing to become more involved,” said Donna Greco, coordinator of the CDS end of the program. More..

Caroline SetsibaActivist’s Autobiography Reflects on the Children’s March That Challenged South African Apartheid

February 16-28, 2008.-In apartheid South Africa of the 1970s Caroline Setsiba became part of a generation of students who directly challenged apartheid rule in South Africa. However, for many years Setsiba did not reflect on her own story at all. “It was painful to remember about those things happen to you. Also, as dramatic as my story might be, I didn’t think anyone outside my family would be interested” she told audiences at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, Hobart and William Smith Colleges in New York and at the Pingry School (Upper and Middle) in New Jersey.

Setsiba's visit to the U.S. was sponsored by The Global Literacy Project, Inc., a New Jersey-based non-profit organization that establishes and promotes literacy in developing countries. This sponsorship, under GLP’s “Campaign for Literacy,” allowed the apartheid survivor to come to the States and thank the organization and its many volunteers for their ongoing commitment towards supporting excellence in education for South African children and adults. More... ________(Take a look at this news coverage of her visit to the Pingry School in New Jersey HERE or this story from The Pingry Review)

Author Denise Lewis Patrick Helps GLP Celebrate African American Literature

Denise Lewis Patrick at Chatham Day School for African American Read In DayRed Dancing Shoes, Madear’s Old Green House, and The Longest Ride all by Denise Lewis Patrick were just a few of the books brought to life at Chatham Day School on February 4 for the school's inaugural support of the "African American Read-In Chain," a program developed by the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English and now endorsed by The Global Literacy Project. The chain involves reading works authored by African American writers at community sites and in school buildings at the beginning of African American History Month.

Child listening to Denise Lewis Patrick at Chatham Day SchoolGLP, working with Community Service Director, Donna Greco, decided to treat CDS students in grades K-3 to a day of readings, literature circles, and the opportunity to meet and talk with the author. Author Patrick responded to the many questions that students had about writing. A piece of advice that fit very well with the goal of the day: “If you want to be a good writer, the first thing you should do is be an avid reader.” She also talked about how important stories were for African Americans both in remembering where they came from but also in imagining the goals they still had before them to accomplish.

Every class had an opportunity to visit individually with the author, ask questions, interview her, and take pictures. The author delighted the students with her responses about writing in the midst of an active family, and spoke about what some of her characters might do next.

Edward Ramsamy at Pingry African MAerican Read-InPingry Lower School Library Hosts National African American Read-In With GLP Trustee

On Monday, February 4, 2008, the Pingry School Library hosted the National African American Read-In for all students in the school from Kindergarten through grade 5. Short Hills Library Director Ann D’Innocenzo said, “My goal in hosting this day was to increase awareness of the importance of African American children's literature and to celebrate the African American culture in our Pingry community.”

However, to show the global connections that African American literature draws upon, guest readers also included Dr. Edward Ramsamy, a professor of Africana Studies at Rutgers University as well as a GLP Trustee.

Throughout the day classes visited the library where Dr. Ramsamy presented on Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi who both led movements for human rights in South African history. Dr. Ramsamy then explained his interest in how the struggle for rights in South Africa and America informed each other especially the way Gandhi's ideas informed and infused Martin Luther King, Jr.'s non-violent campaign in the US.

Several other African-American guests, some of whom are Pingry parents, read books to the students that were written and illustrated by African-Americans. Dr. Ramsamy also quizzed the students about South African and African-American history and stressed that students can reach out beyond their immediate classrooms to find similar dreams and struggles. He noted that, “What [the G.L.P.] tries to do is emphasize that education is more than what you learn in the classroom. Education extends beyond the classroom to show how you form connections with people near and far.”

Elisha and Michelle with books collected during their birthdayTwin First Graders Use Their Birthday to Collect Books for GLP

January 30, 2008.- Elisha and Michelle are twin sisters who are in the first grade at Tamaques Elementary School in Westfield, New Jersey. As young readers, they are appreciative of how wonderful it is to be able to read. They also understand that not everyone has the opportunity or resources to learn to read. When they learned of the Global Literacy Project and all that the organization does to promote literacy around the world, they decided that they wanted to do something to help.

As their family recently began preparations for their birthday party to celebrate turning seven, together they decided that, instead of having their friends bring birthday gifts, they would ask them to donate books to the Global Literacy Project. Their friends from Tamaques Elementary School all brought books (several hundred) to donate to this important cause. Their mom, Lisa was very inspired and touched by this contribution by Elisha and Michelle and their friends and said that she hopes it's "just the beginning of a lifetime of efforts they will make to help change the world for the better." So do we Elisha and Michelle!

Book donations to Puerto Rican Action Board in December 200750,000 Books On Their Way to Young Readers for the Holiday Season Worldwide

December 24, 2007.- With book donations from bookstores such as Barnes & Noble, publishers, and public libraries as well as many individuals and civic groups across the USA, some 50,000 books will reach the hands of young readers over this holiday season.

Volunteers have worked hard over the last few weeks collecting and sorting books for distribution over the holidays. Children from such disparate communities as 1000 families in New Brunswick, New Jersey to students in Western Kenya and students in the Caribbean island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, will all have new access to books!

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