Meet a Winner in Writing, Cynthia C.
Teacher Peach is pleased to introduce the second winner of Teacher Peach’s “Granting Teacher Goals!” High 5 Initiative! Cynthia C. engages her 6th grade students by “taking them overseas!” Her innovative High 5 Initiative blends authentic writing assignments with patriotism as her students “adopt” deployed US service personnel. Her educational project not only builds and sharpens the writing skills of her students, it also makes a powerful difference to the dedicated and brave individuals who go to incredible lengths to help keep us safe.
Our esteemed judge, LeeAndra Khan, explains why this project was a clear winner. “This project helps to increase writing skills as well as gets students to become more globally minded. Students also learn about the locations where the service personnel are stationed. This activity helps students to develop empathy as well as understand and express their appreciation for patriotism and service.”
Cynthia Says . . .
We had the privilege of interviewing Cynthia about her experiences in education and goals for her project. Here’s what she had to say . . .
TP: Please, tell us a bit about you, how long you’ve been teaching, what grades, etc.
CC: I have been teaching since 1983, with maternity leaves, for a total of 21 years of actual time in the classroom. I have taught in several grade levels, from elementary through high school.
TP: What made you decide to become a teacher?
CC: I became a teacher because I love working with children and young adults. I achieve a personal “high” when I see them experience an “aha” moment, regardless of the content area.
TP: What have been the most inspiring aspects of teaching for you?
CC: The most inspiring aspects of teaching for me are watching my students mature in their personal, social, and academic skills. When they suddenly understand the power that they have as individuals and as a cohesive team to make change in their own lives, the school environment, and the larger community, it is a wonderful sight to see.
TP: How does (did) this project impact your students and what outcomes are you hoping to achieve?
CC: This pen pal project, sending letters and care packages to service personnel stationed overseas, has impacted my students by awakening in them a sense of patriotism; they begin to understand that the United States has a multi-faceted mission, one that protects US interests abroad, and also the interests of innocent people caught in hopeless and difficult situations caused by war. They realize that we are not only on military missions—we are also on humanitarian missions. I have been doing this project for the last nine years and this experience has impacted not only my current students, but their parents, and especially younger sibling and friends who ask, on their first day of school, “When do WE get to start the pen pal project?” That’s a powerful reach. With this additional financial support, we hope to reach even further.
TP: What advice would you have for other teachers?
CC: My advice to other teachers is to think big! Create projects that will impact your students AND a larger community. Reach out to forge partnerships in the community to enlarge the audience that becomes a part of your lesson. You’d be amazed at how community leaders are usually willing to participate; you just have to take a risk and ASK!
Inspired by Cynthia?
Cynthia’s lesson is certain to influence and inspire the lives of all of those involved—both today and long into the future. As Cynthia’s interview confirms, many of her former students and their families are already “veterans” of this activity and it has become a tradition that everyone is proud to continue. Teacher Peach is proud to help Cynthia to further enrich this project going forward. In addition to the $100 award, Teacher Peach is also sharing some awesome products with Cynthia and her students.
Check out these Teacher Peach products. Cynthia will use them to connect her students to soldiers and to keep her classroom organized all along the way!
What ideas does Cynthia’s project spark for you? How could you create or adapt a project like this for your students?