When my wife Helen and I moved to Palmyra 28 years ago, we had no idea of what a caring community we were joining. Palmyra is situated in South Central Pennsylvania near the center of the Pennsylvania Dutch heartland. South Central Pennsylvania has had a proud history of helping those in need around the world.
Palmyra's compassion for the less fortunate has been impressive. When this project was conceived several years ago, a history of support was started. The Palmyra Area Education Foundation (PAEF), a foundation that provides financial grants for unique educational projects in our district that go beyond the regular school district budget, is funded through the support of local businesses and the citizens of the Palmyra School District. PAEF awarded a grant to kick-start our project (A laptop and a Flip video camera) to be used at our school in Haiti, which helped start our collaborative. As our project grew and gained the attention of major players such as Intel, Microsoft, and Google, we sought and were awarded another PAEF grant to celebrate the project's successes at the Haitian Embassy in Washington, DC.
Soon after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Palmyra's caring was evident. Through clothing and food drives, we helped feed and clothe those affected by the quake. In addition, a high percentage of our project's top contributors and recurring contributors come from caring citizens within our Palmyra community. Many of these citizens have also contributed their time and talent to help us.
The Palmyra Area Education Association (PAEA) and, the staff and administration of the Palmyra Area School District have participated in a variety of fundraisers to help support this project. Among the fundraisers have been dress down days, backyard picnic game competitions, and photo scavenger hunts. Thousands of dollars have been raised from personal employee contributions to the project.
Academically, our district has track record of academic success, recently scoring a 94.2 for our high school and 90.7 for our middle school on the Pennsylvania School Performance Profile. We have even had visits by Pennsylvania Secretary of Education and the 2015 State Teacher of the Year to share in our successes. We have sought out and applied best practices in education for many years, which has contributed to our success. We have shared best practices with teaching peers in Haiti and are poised to do more.
Probably the most rewarding evidence of caring comes from our students who have been influenced by our project. Some of our students have pursued education and careers in international studies. One such student recently chose a Foreign Service position in Haiti to serve the needs of the Haitian citizens.
On Tuesday, April 14th, starting at 9:00 am EDT, Microsoft will match any donation by 50% up to $1,000 per individual contribution. A $10 donation will be turned into a $15 donation. A $100 donation would become $150! Please consider supporting this unique project with a contribution. Matching funds go quickly so please consider timing your donation as close to the 9am start time as possible. Please spread the word about this great matching opportunity as well.
Together we are making positive change in the lives of appreciative, eager Haitian students!
Thank you for your continued support!
During this unusually cold and harsh winter, it is warming to think of the smiling students in Haiti that have benefited from your generosity!
On a recent Saturday, our students from Les Bon Samaritans and James Stine College in Haiti gathered for a student run wiki training session. During that same week, our students in Palmyra worked on the wiki, adding content on their own topics of interest. It is gratifying to see students from two very different cultural backgrounds and experiences, work on a common project. Years ago when blogs and wikis were new on the scene, this global collaborative began with a vision of collaboration, creation, and outreach, which continues today.
In January, the University of Notre Dame (Alumni Association) highlighted our project on their alumni service blog! The post spotlights the history of our project, notable connections as well as the school's founder, Dr. Rodrigue Mortel. Read more on the ND blog at the link below this update.
Our next fundraising opportunity is on Wednesday, March 18th, when GlobalGiving will host a funds Matching Day starting at 9:00am EDT where all donations to our project will receive a 30% Match. Thank you for continuing to spread the word about our project and the Matching Day on March 18th as well as encouraging people to like our facebook page. We have found that opportunities to raise awareness about the needs in Haiti often come from unexpected sources, so your help in spreading the word is so appreciated!
As we look forward to the promise of spring, we look forward to continued opportunities to make global connections and assist bright, talented students in Haiti! Thank you for partnering with us to achieve this goal!
We recently returned from a visit to our project partner schools in Haiti. If there was a word to recap our visit, it would be joy. Joy in the opportunity for health, life, safety, and education, which are not to be taken for granted in Haiti. Joy for the amazing opportunities that technology provides through our project. Joy of collaboration and connectedness between students in the United States and students in Haiti.
The two youth from the United States that came with us on our trip to Haiti served as ambassadors of our Palmyra-Haiti Technology Project. They came with curiosity, excitement and joy and they were met with reciprocal curiosity, excitement and joy from their peers in Haiti. Light colored skin, light hair and braces were curiosities. A love of soccer, technology and learning were commonalities.
As adults, my wife and I were filled with joy watching students from different cultures, backgrounds and languages joyfully interact with each other. It was a genuine validation of the work that this project is accomplishing.
It was a fruitful visit from our project’s productivity standpoint. We met with students and staff at both of our partner schools, Les Bons Samaritains and James Stine College, to discuss and collaborate on our Palmyra-Haiti Technology Project. At Les Bons Samaritains (our elementary school), we conducted training on technical aspects of wiki usage. At James Stine College (our High School), we had trainings on Facebook and GlobalGiving posts along with discussion of current and future technology needs at our two partner schools. We will share those needs with you in a future project report.
We had a deeper joy with these meetings. A joy of accomplishment and of a continued future of accomplishment through your support. Johnson, Yves, Servius, are a few of the incredibly bright and talented student leaders at James Stine College who have benefited from our project. Servius was highlighted in an article by the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette regarding post Haitian earthquake success stories. His featured success was his technology prowess, in part, thanks to your support of our project. Look for other updates and pictures of this joy filled visit in future project reports, but know that your support has, is, and will continue to make a significant impact in the lives of students in Haiti and in the United States.
We thank you for your support of our recent Microsoft, Youth Spark Fund Matching Day! Thanks to the generosity of many, our project received over $1,500 in donations during that campaign.
Please celebrate our project’s success by sharing posts and encouraging others to like our project on Facebook. And thank you, also, for partnering with us to bring joy to the faces of our students in Haiti. Your investment is making a real difference in the lives of these deserving students!
Best wishes for a joy filled holiday and a happy new year.