Imagine your life without books.
Two Chattanooga teachers are challenging their students to do just that.
Karen West and Anne-Marie Blentlinger, both first grade teachers, traveled to Kenya last summer through Hamilton County’s Fund For Teachers grant [Ed: Fund for Teachers is administered by PEF for Hamilton County teachers]. While there, they volunteered in classrooms vastly different than their own.
Kenyan classrooms lack sturdy tables and chairs, white boards, and until recently, running water. But there’s another staple for an elementary school that’s missing.
“Our students love going to the library here at school. Colorful books that have a variety of subjects, they have nothing like that. And so we wanted to be able to help them stock their library just from the books we have and our students have that are extra,” said Blentlinger.
The teachers have made it their mission to send thousands of books overseas. They’ve enlisted the help of the elementary school students to bring a few books to share with students just like them.
“They’re going to really make an impact on students who are just like them. We have pictures of these exact students, and we have movies of them looking at the books we took, so they’ll understand, it really does change their lives,” said West.
There’s also a pen-pal program for the students. In that interaction, American children are able to see the cultural differences between here and Kenya. West says it’s important children learn at a young age that America is very different from other areas of the world.
The book collection will begin Monday at CSLA. Right now, it’s only the students that are asked to contribute books. However, the community is encouraged to help them pay for shipping the library to Kenya. If you’d like to donate, contact the office at CSLA.
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