A project planned in conjunction with a school in Pakistan could be incorporated into a communitywide reading campaign focused on education.
Bellefonte Area School District, with help from a Penn State Humphrey fellow, is hoping to participate in a student exchange project about how education empowers.
Bellefonte Area Assistant Superintendent Michelle Saylor said the idea is for Bellefonte Area students to analyze the topic, and share it via the Internet with the potential partner school and its students in Pakistan.
Those Pakistani students would then share their thoughts, Saylor said.
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And she added there would be little to no language barrier, because the students in Pakistan know English.
Saylor said the district has been working with Aisha Suhail, who is part of Penn State’s Humphrey Fellowship Program and works with the Care Foundation in Pakistan — an organization that provides free education to children.
The fellowship is a one-year nondegree program that combines academic and professional development.
If all goes as planned, Saylor said the project could be showcased at the next events as part of Bellefonte Reads.
The initiative was started last year with Saylor and two district literacy coaches as a way to connect the school district with the community and promote literacy.
The first leg of the event called “One Book, One Bellefonte” was held Thursday night in the high school library.
Secondary literacy coach Jackie Wynkoop said all district families were invited and given two copies of the book to read per family.
She said this year’s book was “I am Malala,” a memoir about a Pakistani activist who is the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. It also includes global issues.
Wynkoop said there are several versions of the book that help students of all ages understand.
“The goal is to get the community reading,” Wynkoop said. “We try to find books that fit well with class curriculum, and ones that everyone can understand.”
About 300 books were purchased with a $1,500 grant from the American Association of University Women.
Community participants were encouraged to read the book as a family, and then attend various book chats held in February and March, and a communitywide literacy night 6 to 8 p.m. March 23 at the high school.
“The idea is to bring the community around a book,” elementary literacy coach Jennifer Zahuranec said. “Teachers work hard teaching literacy, and we want to promote that in the community.”
Administrators said it’s a larger version of a book club.
The book “The Red Pencil” was featured last year.
But kinks in last year’s program helped improve it this year, Zahuranec said.
“We just changed the order of some of the events to help bring more people out,” she said. “What we’re finding is more kids are enthusiastic about reading when they participate in events like this.”
During the next events, some excerpts of the book will be featured during a public reading session.