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Class act.

Special teachers often make a profound difference in their students' lives. For many of those teachers, there are no official accolades, but Jackson educator Peggy Carlisle's day of recognition arrived recently when she received the National ING Unsung Heroes Award and a $27,000 grant to fund her innovative program, "The Kenyan Project."

Founded by ING U.S. Financial Services, the award program honors kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers for inventive teaching methods, original educational projects, and positive impacts on students. More than 1,100 educators across the nation were considered this year.

Carlisle, a teacher at Pecan Park Elementary School, began "The Kenyan Project" after her class heard the heart-wrenching stories of visiting Kenyan educator Juddy Opiya. The project gives students glimpses of African culture through a partnership with three bush schools in Kitale, Kenya. Carlisle's 156 third- and fourth-graders learn Swahili, compose letters to Kenyan students, and share books and photos. Students also gain a knowledge of free enterprise through fund-raising efforts; sales of paper houses and pet rocks have raised $650 for Kenya initiatives.

"The Kenyan Project was born purely out of the students' desire to help others in need," said Pecan Park principal Wanda Quon. "With this program, Peggy Carlisle has provided her students with priceless knowledge and understanding of Kenyan culture, resources, and environment to further broaden their lives and help us all make connections with a larger community."

The new grant will provide Carlisle's students with laptop computers and disposable digital cameras to enable them to share the events of their lives with their Kenyan pen pals. Grant funds will also be used to jump-start a business through which students will raise funds for Kenya.

In light of Hurricane Katrina's destruction, ING also gave Pecan Park Elementary two 55-gallon drums full of school supplies and $5,000 to assist in the school's absorption of almost 20 displaced students.

For more information about the ING Unsung Heroes Award program, call 800/537-4180 or see
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Title Annotation:southern scrapbook
Author:Talbert, Jenna
Publication:Mississippi Magazine
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2005
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