Teaching to give ... one penny at a time

First grader Rachel Ehinger drops a penny in the Pennies for Peace jar during a presentation given by Terry High School senior English students.  

By Kay Braddock

This is the fourth year in a row Terry High School teacher Paula Rein has required her senior English class to read “Three Cups of Tea”. It’s the first year her students opted to take the author’s message to heart.
“I’ve always mentioned it,” Rein said. “But this year, this group took it and took off with it.”
The autobiographical first-person account in “Three Cups of Tea,” shares how one man’s failed attempt to climb the world’s second highest mountain located in Pakistan led to his discovery of the country’s desperate need for quality education. After encountering the friendly care of villagers in a remote area of Pakistan, Greg Mortenson set out with a new determination – finding funds to aid the country’s lacking education system.
The Bozeman, Montana based “Pennies for Peace” program, which began in 1994, has given students and others worldwide a chance to help foster peace through education in Pakistan and the neighboring country Afghanistan.
“I wanted to do it right away,” senior student Tate Pehl said of the program, adding that besides being a better project than other possible assignments, it would be a good program to initiate in Terry. 
The five seniors – Shawnee Kirkpatrick, Deven Morrison, David Hyer, Trayton Schroeber and Tate Pehl, along with the help of fellow senior Carly Stickel (not pictured) – began making posters and other materials promoting the “Pennies for Peace” program in December.  Last week they introduced the program to elementary students.
Rein pointed out that the extra effort required to begin the program has been strictly the work of the students.
“They’ve done a really good gob,” Rein said. “Their presentations have been really good.”
Presentations to elementary students have included a brief description of the value of pennies. Although pennies can buy very little one at a time, added together the donated pennies can pay for education materials, help hire teachers and even build schools, Kirkpatrick shared with first graders Tuesday afternoon. The presentations also include a reading from a picture book explaining the program, as well as a craft project. After handing out pennies, elementary students are then given an opportunity to give back their pennies to the program.
Pennies for Peace jars are located in classrooms and will be distributed throughout local businesses. The students hope to raise enough funds to pay a teacher’s one-year salary - $600.  The jars will be collected in April.

Published Jan. 26, 2011

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