Moncton Times and Transcript features Global Schools Link

by Community Forests International on August 29, 2009

Port Elgin Regional Public School to take part in Global Schools Link program this fall

By Meg Edwards
times & transcript Staff
Published Friday August 28th, 2009

PORT ELGIN - A new portable Mac computer lab will allow Grade 7 and 8 students in Port Elgin Regional School to compare science notes with Tanzanian students.

In an initiative called Global Schools Link, students from New Brunswick and Ontario are paired up with a school in Pemba, Tanzania. The students will become 'global students' through an interactive website similar to facebook according to Estelle Drisdelle, the Canadian Education Coordinator for the parent organization, Community Forests International.

The pairing with Pemba began when the executive director of Community Forests International, Jeff Schnurr, who was living and working in Tanzania at the time, began to focus his environmental energies on encouraging tree planting as a way to offset emissions and reclaim land. Global Schools Link was created so that students from different communities could compare their climates and recognize the need for global change.

"We will be looking at the students' curriculum in Port Elgin," says Drisdelle, "and working with the upcoming subjects so that the students can see the connection between their science class and the natural world."

Port Elgin language arts and music teacher Nancy Mahoney applied for the Innovative Learning Fund last year when the group found that the computers in the school were too slow for effective communication with Tanzania. The students planted trees last year, while learning about ecosystems and environmentalism. The computer lab this year will add a new level of social networking to the project and increase the focus on writing. A translator has volunteered his services in order to translate the 'global students' messages and questions.

Mahoney says, "A lot of people were involved" in getting the project off the ground. She is grateful for the Innovative Learning Fund grant of $28,679, as well as a gift of trees from the Cornhill Nursery at the value of $2,500. The Home and School Committee of Port Elgin Regional School also raised $5,000 towards the project. Estelle Drisdelle says that projects in which students are involved in 'greening the school grounds' have been found to improve grades and behaviour in areas that are not even linked to the project. The students take more pride in their school and have more appreciation for the environment around them.

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