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Thai ties lead to lessons

District 16 NewsSandy Hanson

As soon as information began pouring in about the tsunami that struck Asia, Mindy Campbell knew that she had to do something. Campbell, a preschool and kindergarten teacher at the Grand Valley Early Childhood Literacy Center, has special ties to the area.From 1992 to 1994, Campbell served as a Peace Corps volunteer teaching English to middle school students in the Petchaboon province of Thailand. During her two years in Thailand, Campbell made many friends and visited various parts of Thailand, including the southern regions where the tsunami hit.Campbell’s first instinct was to see if the Peace Corps needed translators in Thailand to help with the relief effort. Those thoughts quickly changed to thoughts of her students in Colorado.”I could not abandon my students here, so I decided to raise money to help bring medicine and other necessities to Thailand,” Campbell said.”When I first talked to the kids about what happened in Thailand they listened very intently and were very concerned.”Campbell found appropriate reading materials that dealt with earthquakes and tsunamis so she could help her students understand some of the things they were hearing on television.The first day of the drive saw Jessie, a kindergartner, arrive late for class as she struggled to drag a gallon-sized plastic bag full of coins into the classroom. Campbell noted that the size and amount of Jessie’s donation excited the whole class. On that same day Hunter brought in $12 from his own piggy bank.”Hunter counted out 117 coins before he got tired and dumped the rest into the collection jar. His little sister even brought in money from her own piggy bank,” Campbell said. Andrew, a preschooler, also brought in his piggy bank to donate to the drive.The Pennies for Thailand Drive has provided many learning opportunities for students. Campbell erected a display in her classroom where students could explore the region. Students looked at photos, money and maps of Thailand as they learned more about the area that they were raising money for.While students have learned the value of helping others they have also expanded their vocabulary and worked on math standards.”We count with the coins and have learned the names of the coins, as well as learned to measure the height of the coins in the jar,” Campbell said.The penny drive was slated to end at the end of January, but students have been so dedicated to the drive that they continue to bring in money, and Campbell has extended the fund-raiser for another week or two.Sandy Hanson is the public information director for Garfield County School District No. 16. She can be reached at shanson@garcoschools.org or 285-5701.


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