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Skype Brings World Closer to Students

 Through the use of Skype, a software application that allows users to make voice and video calls over the Internet, students at Piedmont were able to virtually see Sharyn VonCannon, Unionville Elementary principal, in a classroom in Costanza, Dominican Republic during a recent mission trip sponsored by Lifetouch. VonCannon was a part of “Lifetouch Memory Mission”, whereby more than 40 volunteers travel to the Dominican Republic to work alongside Dominican nationals on a variety of projects, including block and concrete work and stucco and paint finishing for school classrooms in Constanza.

VonCannon and her team of other superintendents and principals from across the United States, had the opportunity to visit with community members to learn about their lives, families, traditions, and the Dominican culture. Lifetouch is a company that takes school pictures for many schools in Union County. As Jake Barker, senior executive vice president at Lifetouch states, “When we go to the Dominican Republic, our purpose is greater than a construction project. More than anything else, it is our mission to bring hope to the families we serve.” While there, Lifetouch takes a “school picture” of the children in the school in Constanza—a first for the children there.

World History students in Todd Stokes and Joyce Nash’s World History classes, in addition to Julianne Lease’s Spanish II students, were present during the Skype session from the Dominican Republic with VonCannon. Constanza is a small, hurricane-prone farming center in the mountains of the Dominican Republic, one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere. The only school in the area was so severely overcrowded that classroom sizes averaged 60 to 70 students. The native language in Constanza is Spanish and Lease was able to facilitate the Skype session and ask questions in Spanish and translate their student’s responses. As Cameron Covington noted after the presentation, “Students in the Dominican Republic are not as privileged as we are in the U.S. Their education will basically end in middle school because there is only one high school in the area.” Other students echoed similar comments after listening to VonCannon’s story in a Moodle post about the educational experience in the Dominican Republic. Johanna Sandoval, a student in Mrs. Nash’s World History class, reflected “The thought of people not having simple things that we take for granted is heart breaking. It'd be an honor to be able to travel anywhere, even if it was in our country, to help those people who are reaching out for a hand to hold.”

Mrs. VonCannon will be doing a presentation for three World History classes at Piedmont on Friday, January 4. For more information on the Lifetouch Memory Mission, go to http://www.lifetouchmemorymission.com/.

Written by: Donna Helms, Web Editor
Posted: Jan 02, 2013 by Donna Helms

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