Peace Corps Honors Recipients of Second Annual Paul D. Coverdell Award for Excellence

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 3, 2002—Gaddi H. Vasquez, Director of the Peace Corps, has announced the recipients of the second annual Paul D. Coverdell Award for Excellence. The awards pay tribute to educators who exhibit outstanding participation in the Peace Corps’ Coverdell World Wise Schools global education program. The global education program was established by the late Senator Paul D. Coverdell, a former Peace Corps director, in 1989 and named in his honor by the United States Senate in July 2001.

Coverdell believed that “through the exchange of letters, artwork, artifacts, and other educational materials, the [Peace Corps] volunteer will serve as a window for U.S. students to experience new countries and cultures.” Since its inception, the Coverdell World Wise Schools (CWWS) program has helped more than 2 million U.S. students communicate directly with Peace Corps volunteers all over the world.

Educator James G. Miller, Jr., of Syracuse, N.Y., and Perry Elementary School in Erie, Pa., will each be awarded this year. Miller teaches ninth-grade global history at Corcoran High School in Syracuse, N.Y. He has participated in CWWS since 1999 and in the Peace Corps Partnership Program since 1984. Perry Elementary, the first “geography theme-based” school in the country, has been a participant in CWWS since 1998.

Miller noted “that the Peace Corps Partnership is an ideal tool for connecting students with the developing world and giving them a sense of real accomplishment in the form of a finite small-scale development project.” Miller’s students correspond regularly with Rosalynn Frederick of Copake, N.Y., a Peace Corps volunteer in Niger, and have raised funds for building elementary schools and maternity wards in Africa. Currently, the students are helping fund construction of a water well and creation of an adult literacy program in Boure, Niger. One of Miller’s former students, Kelly Dixon, is now a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand.

Perry Elementary School Principal Edward A. Grode and educator Susan Wojtalik will accept their award on behalf of students and educators at the school, whose curriculum focuses on global themes. “An important part of Perry’s mission,” noted Grode, “is to help our students understand that diversity is a very positive thing, that all cultures, no matter how foreign, have value.”

Through the CWWS correspondence match program, Perry students exchange letters and pictures with Amy Rumbel of Milford, Mass., a volunteer in Kenya, and Amy Maraney of Bethal Park, Pa., a volunteer in Estonia. Inspired by the students’ correspondence with Peace Corps volunteers, Grode traveled to Africa for a month with his school’s mascot, Toby the Traveling Bear.

Describing the Peace Corps volunteers he has met during his travels, Miller said, “These wonderful young (and sometimes older) men and women set a wonderful example for all of us in helping the less fortunate around the world.”

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