Pen Pals

America to Zambia pic

Last week a group of high school students sent handwritten letters to secondary students at School of Hope in Zambia. The students are members of the International Girls Club at Cary Grove High School in Cary, Illinois. In years past, our team has hand-delivered short notes and homemade cards to kids when we have traveled to Zambia to work with our partner schools, but we’ve never attempted a pen pal project due to the turn around time and cost of shipping. However, when club sponsor Sonya Wadlington and I met to discuss the project, we decided scanning the letters and sending them via email to School of Hope would be best. We also chatted about possible topics and culturally sensitive content to include in the letters. The thoughtful teens got to work and hand wrote letters; many included little drawings in the margins to extend the information shared.

Here are a few favorite lines from the pen pal letters explaining high school life at Cary Grove:

  • I take 5 classes/subjects and go to them every day.
  • My favorite subject this year is either English or physics!
  • Art lets me express my creativity.
  • I really like science and I hope to become a doctor when I’m older.
  • I would like to tell you about my family because family means a lot to me.
  • That is my true goal for my time at school. To become a better thinker in order to eventually pursue my true passion.
  • I’m also planning on going to a university after high school.
  • In my eyes, to achieve happiness, you must do what you love, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.
  • One of my favorite foods to eat is ice cream.
  • I’m really looking forward to exchanging letters because learning about other cultures has always been an interest of mine.
  • I’m so glad we get to write to each other from halfway across the world.
  • What does your schedule look like each day?
  • Do you know multiple languages?
  • What types of food do you like to eat?
  • Does your school have uniforms?

School of Hope director Kathleen Schwartz will share the letters this week, and hopefully, the International Girls Club will receive letters back from their Zambian pen pals in December.

Little letter pics

Time to Bowl For Hunger

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Love to bowl? So does A to Z!

We will be hosting our 1st annual family-friendly Hunger Bowl on Thursday, November 17, 2016. Come to Metro Bowl anytime from 4:00 – 7:00 PM. to raise money for Shine Reading Academy’s lunch program. Bring your whole family for unlimited bowling for just $40. Individual tickets are $20 for adults.  Come bowl a few games while supporting an amazing school in Zambia.

Reflecting on Professional Learning in Zambia

As the 2016-17 school year began last week, I spent some time reflecting on the summer months along with A to Z’s work in Zambia this past June. A wonderful memory that continues to linger in my mind is our day of professional development with 150 Zambian teachers at School of Hope.

Teachers from all over the area came together to learn and grow; men and women wanting to make a difference in the lives of their students. Dave, Betty and I provided teachers with opportunities to attend sessions on reading, writing, asking questions, and literacy in content areas. There was something for everyone.

Without a doubt, I am confident that A to Z is continuing to impact the lives of Zambian students and teachers. Although our nonprofit is small, our educational impact is large.  By providing valuable support, we have increased literacy levels and the love of reading within schools and communities.

Faces of Zambia

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As the A to Z team has been reflecting on our recent visits to Shine Zambia Reading Academy and School of Hope, I thought a blog of photos would be fun to share. We are extremely grateful to you, our supporters, and without you, our work in Zambia would not be possible. Thank you for believing in our mission and thank you for your continued support of helping to increase literacy levels in impoverished communities.

 

 

 

Crystal Lake Central Juniors Creating *Books in Bags*

A to Z Literacy Movement is grateful to Mrs. Welder’s English class of Crystal Lake Central juniors for once again taking on the wonderful project of *Books in Bags*. Each CLC student chooses a fiction or nonfiction picture book and practices reading and rereading the book aloud. The students then head to the school library to record their reading with Mrs. Nelson, Crystal Lake Central’s librarian.  Once the recording is complete, the students create a short comprehension check and discussion guide with questions and prompts to be answered or discussed by students in our Zambian partner schools. The *Books in Bags* are a fantastic asset to any classroom or library listening station, and we are really excited about this year’s selection of picture books. Thank you so much to the teachers and students involved in this literacy project!

Looking Back at 2015

annual report 2015

“Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope.” – Kofi Annan

With the holidays over and the January deep freeze settling in, A to Z is proud to look back at 2015 and celebrate many accomplishments. As you view our annual report above, you’ll notice we shipped 57 boxes of children’s books to four different countries in 2015 while donating 27 boxes to local groups in here McHenry county. That’s about 6,000 books in all!  88% of contributions to our nonprofit went to program expenses which included funding for four Zambian student scholarships, six months of school lunch, professional development for over 150 Zambian teachers, and a yearly salary for one teacher. A to Z is grateful to you for continuing to believe in our mission and we are humbled with your generosity. We believe books provide the “what can be…” in life for so many children in impoverished communities, helping them to see the world through different lenses. Without you, we would not be able to promote the love of reading and increase literacy levels around the world. Thank you. Thank you! Thank you.

Just How Many Boxes?

As 2015 wraps up, A to Z Literacy Movement wanted to share a few numbers and a bit of information about the boxes of children’s books we shipped and gave away this year.
Globally: 57 boxes of books made their way to Zambia, Ghana, Swaziland, and the Dominican Republic.
Locally: 27 boxes of books were shared with children in McHenry County.
Without your generous and continued support, we could not have donated the 84 boxes of children’s books to schools, churches, and other nonprofits who are working to increase the love of reading in children. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!