Memorial Day Observance…

We observe Memorial Day in honor of the 1.1 million Americans who have died in US wars since our country’s birth. This observance also includes those who returned home wearing their uniform. Their battles did not or have not all ended on the battlefield. I especially honor four high school friends who died during the late 60’s during the Viet Nam Conflict. Michael Charles, Kenny Delaney, Frank Campbell, Jr., and Daniel Watkins all joined the military following graduation from high school. Three of the four died in battle while in Viet Nam. The fourth, Kenny Delaney died wearing his uniform in his home town in Tennessee while on leave. He was murdered by a civilian. All died while I was attending college. Of course, several other classmates died while serving but these four were very close friends. I entered the military following graduation from college and I pledged then to always show my respect and gratitude for their service and sacrifice. We all have family or friends who served our country and made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom or are currently serving. We salute all those who have served to protect our freedom.

Corinne Calabretta is a new volunteer teacher at the Learning Center. Corinne is a native of Buffalo, New York and currently a senior at the University of Rochester.   Corinne.rev.1

She is majoring in international relations and economics while pursuing minors in Spanish and legal studies. She has taught English to refugees in both Buffalo and Rochester. Her long term plans are to go on to graduate school studying human rights, next join the ranks of professor, and then on to become an ambassador.

Many students have made great progress and have moved up to the next level in their educational material. According to Eve, the Learning Center’s education leader, the Learning Center is using curriculum composed of five levels.  Below are students who have successfully moved up. Most are AGB Scholarship Fund recipients.
graduation (1)Listed are the recipients and the donors from left to right.

Nicole – L. Church, Sofia – P. Evans, Margarita – non recipient, Juan Pablo – L. Church, Kevin – P. Wright, Steven – V. Richardson,  Ruben – J. Merritt, Ronald – A. Broady, Jose Manuel – A. Broady, Eric – non recipient, Evelyn- N. Olson.  Anna/Teacher.

There are another 12 recipients not listed in this group picture.  Thanks again for helping so many of these young students through the AGB Scholarship Fund. To enlarge the photo, you can click on the picture for a much improved look at your recipient.

A Southern Style….Pen Pal Program…

The ever popular Pen Pal Program, officially known as the Student Information Exchange Program, is ramping up to take off again and is set to soar to new heights in popularity and excitement. The Pen Pal Program provides wonderful opportunities for kids to learn from each other and become friends.

Stephanie Hoeft and Brandy Wheeler, both Pasco, Washington elementary school teachers and “Friends of Copey”, initiated this program last year as a pilot project by engaging several 5th grade students in a letter writing exercise with several students at the Learning Center. This time around, 5th grade students in Virginia will exchange letters with students at the Learning Center. It is expected the students will use music, Skype, U-Tube, and other media forms to build their relationships.

This Pen Pal Program will be led by Lisa Baldwin, a very strong supporter of the “Friends of Copey”. Lisa is currently teaching 5th grade at High Point Elementary School in Bristol, Virginia and just missed being honored as Teacher of the Year in 2013. Prior to moving to Virginia, she received Teacher of the Year honors in North Carolina. Among her many educational accomplishments, she has recorded children’s educational CDs. She developed the musical program, Music, Minds, and Motion (www.musicmindsandmotion.com) and takes this program into childcare centers, senior centers, libraries, and schools. Lisa holds a Master’s Degree in Appalachian Studies from Appalachian State University and has been a classroom teacher for over 30 years. Soon Lisa will be performing for the Watauga Public Library in Boone, North Carolina at their Summer Reading Program and will be providing music classes for Summer Scholars at Emory & Henry College in Virginia in June.

There is more….! Lisa and her husband, Dave Haney, are a multi-talented team of educators and musical performers. She and Dave (www.baldwinhaney.com) are very well known traditional folk, bluegrass, and country music artists and are popular songwriters as well. More recently, they have traveled and played extensively throughout the south and are enjoying a great deal of musical success. Dave is currently the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty at Emory & Henry College. Providing great musical entertainment is what they do when they are not heavily involved in education.

We are blessed and honored to add Lisa and Dave to the growing list of “Friends of Copey”. We believe the students at the Learning Center will really enjoy some Southern style hospitality and  getting to know Lisa and her class. We will keep you updated on the progress of the Pen Pal Program.

Other great news!!! The list of “Friends of Copey continues to grow. During April and May, more than twenty new followers have been added to my list. Based on my Mother’s Day Post, there are quite a number of you staying in touch. By the way, thanks to those who sent me a special note regarding the Post.

Earlier, the AGB Scholarship donors were informed of the students receiving a scholarship to attend the Learning Center. I am now sending out photos of the recipients to each donor. We are receiving very positive progress reports for all of the students. Thank you staff.

Happy Mother’s Day…..!

Today as we focus on this Mother’s Day, we find many of our thoughts and memories are connected to the experiences we had or have with our Mothers.

This is the first Mother’s Day my sister and I will share without our Mother. Mom passed away in August last year and the adjustments to move on have not been easy. We had to get through first her birthday that followed her passing by about 15 days. Next, we sat at the Thanksgiving Dinner table remembering the many dinners we shared with Mom and all the wonderful meals she prepared. Only a few weeks later we found ourselves at the Christmas Dinner table again sharing many of the same thoughts we had during Thanksgiving. Recently, we went to church on Easter Sunday and this was the first time in years Mom was not with us. Today, Mother’s Day, may be the most difficult of them all to spend without her.

We struggle with these adjustments because Mom really was a very special Mom. In many ways, she was very typical and like most Moms. However, she had some unique qualities and truly amazing ways that set her apart from the rest.  At age 88 for example, she was still actively interested in various sports as an avid spectator and fan. As a die-hard Seattle Seahawk fan, we believe from Heaven she had a hand in the Seahawks winning their first Super Bowl. Equally fantastic, the NASCAR driver winning the first race in 2014 was her favorite driver, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Her favorite Major League Baseball team, the Seattle Mariners, is one of the worst baseball teams each year. However, as of the time of this Post, the Mariners are two games above .500 and in second place. OMG!!! Finally, on the eve of this Mother’s Day, Mom’s second favorite NASCAR driver (my favorite…Jeff Gordon) won his first race of the year.

There were other qualities but this helps explain why the adjustments are difficult. Our daily lives were so connected with Mom. We know how she would sound and act if she was with us during the Super Bowl, watching Earnhardt and Gordon crossing the finish line first and watching each day the amazing things the Mariners are currently doing. Well, you know the saying…”Mom would have thought she had died and gone to Heaven”.

Some of our friends have lost their Mom too and we know this day has special meanings for them also. In a special way, we share this day with you. If you are fortunate to still have Mom around, send your love to her.

Mom is gone but we feel we are uniquely blessed. Mom‘s life and memory has been honored with the Anne Goble Broady Scholarship Fund supported by the “Friends of Copey”. On this Mother’s Day, please know that you are helping a kid who has a Mother wanting the very best for her child. What a wonderful way to honor Mothers on this day. We Love you Mom.