A long-distance connection is bringing 400 slightly used books to the hands of students in Belize.
Seeds of the journey were planted during a conversation between Columbia Center Rotary past President Peter Kalunian and Kennewick School District administrators.
Kalunian was part of a group from the club receiving a community leadership award in June. At the time, he asked what became of the textbooks when the district finished with them.
The administrators told him the books are usually surplused and sold to individuals or other school districts.
Never miss a local story.
The district was in the middle of replacing its K-5 math books, and Kalunian asked if the district would be willing to donate them. The club has been working with a school in Belize for the past 10 years.
“We’re glad we could partner with Columbia Center Rotary to bring the power of education to another community,” Kennewick officials said on its Facebook page.
The St. Matthews Anglican School serves about 400 children near Pomona Valley. Religious organizations and the government work together to provide education in the Central American country, which has a population of about 360,000.
Kalunian sorted through and packaged the books. The district’s warehouse staff helped prepare them for shipment.
The books were packed and are sitting on a Miami dock waiting to be transported, he said. A group of volunteers is traveling to the school in January to help.
Kalunian’s Rotary connections also are pulling others in the country to assist the school.
One of the volunteers arriving at the school will be Ivan Alba, a math and leadership consultant with Core Collaborative. Alba helps Park Middle School create interventions for students who academically aren’t doing well in school.
Alba and Kalunian connected through a Park Middle School teacher.
“Peter shared his club’s project in Belize,” Alba said. “Although it is mostly a health and construction team that is going there, he stated that the school could certainly use a mathematics (and) instruction expert to train teachers in the most innovate and progressive strategies for student math teaching.”
Alba jumped at the chance to join the effort, he said.
Many of the teachers rely on photocopied pages from workbooks.
“They have a curriculum right now, but it’s not up to the same standard to what they are getting,” he said.
Having the surplus books means students at St. Matthews will have a more up-to-date curriculum, Kalunian said.