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Sat, May 25

Sparking a connection between Prescott and Peru students via postcard exchange
Community Spirit

Cathleen Cherry in her PHS French language classroom holding up a postcard the size that she hopes people will donate. She’d like to collect at least 200 Arizona or Prescott-themed postcards that she will then distribute throughout the school district. (Nanci Hutson/Courier)

Cathleen Cherry in her PHS French language classroom holding up a postcard the size that she hopes people will donate. She’d like to collect at least 200 Arizona or Prescott-themed postcards that she will then distribute throughout the school district. (Nanci Hutson/Courier)

Helping via postcards

Anyone wishing to donate Arizona or Prescott-themed postcards is invited to drop them off in the office at Prescott High School, 1050 Ruth St. For more information, contact Cathleen Cherry at the high school through her email: cathleen.cherry@prescottschools.com

Cherry will be doing a presentation on her Fulbright trip to Peru at the Prescott Unified Governing Board meeting on May 7. The meeting begins at 5 p.m. in the district offices on East Gurley Street.

Prescott High School Fulbright scholar Cathleen Cherry will be headed to Peru schools this summer.

The veteran French teacher and Academic Decathalon coach hopes to spark a connection between students of both cultures through a postcard exchange.

To incorporate a community spirit, too, the 25-year educator is asking that community members, parents, teachers, students and anyone else who would like to participate buy some Arizona or Prescott-themed postcards and drop them off at the high school office. Cherry will then distribute the cards to the area schools so that students can pen messages to the Peruvian students she will meet on her three-week excursion. The high school Spanish teachers intend to have their student’s write messages in Spanish, but Peruvian students do learn English and so she welcomes those messages. As for what to write, Cherry plans to offer some prompts to teachers, but basically she just wants students to describe their life here. She said they can share about their city, their home, their hobbies, and maybe a little about their school.

At the high school, Cherry said she will encourage students to write about some American traditions: homecoming, senior prom, pep rallies and some of their elective courses that likely do not exist in rural Peru.

In return, Cherry hopes that these “gifts” to the Peruvian students will prompt a response, maybe even some pen pal relationships, or even a foreign exchange visit.

“We want to give students a sense of how small the world really is,” Cherry said.

For both her students in Prescott, and those she will meet in Peru, Cherry said she wants them to see what connects them together “rather than what divides us.”

The postcard idea was prompted by the Fulbright Global Classroom Project’s requirement that the 76 teachers selected to participate take small gifts to the students they will encounter as part of their grant experience. Cherry thought the postcards would be a simple, but poignant way for students to get to know a little about one another – opening their eyes to new places and new people who are their peers.

Cherry’s Fulbright experience has been a year-long venture that has incorporated 10 weeks of coursework and a three-day workshop in Washington, D.C. that she attended with Principal Mark Goligoski in February. Cherry and Goligoski were among 75 teachers and 50 administrators to attend.

Much of the workshop focus was related to cross-cultural communication and conflict. She was one of a 10-educator group assigned to Peru that conferred with Peruvian teachers who have been part of the international field experience.

In Peru, Cherry will be assigned to a host school where she will get to observe and participate in classroom activities. The Peru group will also be meeting with the Minister of Culture in Lima to talk about the nation’s educational practices.

Cherry found the visit to Washington, D.C. to be both inspiring and humbling.

“These are amazing teachers,” Cherry said of the diverse group with backgrounds that include teaching in large metropolitan areas, inner-city environments and small, rural places. “It emphasized for me the diversity of this country and what different experiences we have all had.”

Assistant Principal Clark Tenney, who in March participated in a Fulbright program in Finland for administrators, commended Cherry for her willingness to not only accept an assignment out of her comfort zone but to engage students in both countries in the process.

Tenney said he sees the postcard project as a “great way to reach out and make connections that make us all realize that the world extends beyond the boundaries of Yavapai County,” Tenney said.

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