Peace Corps Presents Teachers with First-Annual Coverdell Award on March 1, the Agency's 40th Anniversary; Volunteers Across the Country Participate in Global Education Activities
March 2, 2001WASHINGTON, D.C., March 2, 2001—On March 1, as 6000 former Peace Corps volunteers around the country shared their overseas experiences with American students, acting Director Charles R. Baquet III presented seven teachers with the first-annual Coverdell Award for Excellence in Washington, D.C. The award is named in honor of the late Georgia Senator, Paul D. Coverdell, who founded the World Wise Schools global education program during his tenure as the director of the Peace Corps from 1989-91.
"Today's event focuses on the Peace Corps' third goal of helping Americans learn about places beyond this country's borders, which is the heart and soul of the World Wise Schools program," Baquet said. "Senator Coverdell understood clearly the third goal, and the establishment of World Wise Schools is perhaps one of his most significant accomplishments."
Guests of the event included former volunteers, Senator Christopher Dodd and Congressmen Sam Farr, Thomas Petri, Christopher Shays and James Walsh. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, Peace Corps director from 1991-92, presented the Peace Corps with a Proclamation for the 40th anniversary from President Bush and paid tribute to the award recipients.
"Congratulations on a job well done," Chao said. "Your project will help U.S.-foreign relations and will help us understand so many other peoples around the world."
Also in attendance was Senator Edward Kennedy, who spoke about how the Peace Corps has lived up to his brother's vision for the agency over the past 40 years.
"I welcome the opportunity to be here today to honor these award recipients and to recognize the extraordinary progress that the Peace Corps is making in adapting to the new challenges and needs in the developing world with cutting-edge technology," Kennedy said. "Of all the things President Kennedy was involved in, none gave him the sense of happiness and hope as that of the Executive Order establishing the Peace Corps. His faith in the power and idealism of young people and his belief in our country and what it represents at its best has all come together in the Peace Corps."
The seven award recipients were honored for their participation in the World Wise Schools' Water in Africa project, a Web-based curriculum that chronicles the use of water in 24 African nations. Using 600 photos and 300 anecdotes contributed by 90 Peace Corps volunteers in Africa, they created online learning units for teachers to use in American classrooms. The award recipients included:
Michelle Abernathy-Tabor of Lynden, Washington, Amy Jane Cohen of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Robert L.Maher of Athens, Ohio, David McKoski of Chicago, Illinois, Kristi Rennbohm Franz of Pullman, Washington, Dany M. Ray of Cairo, Georgia and Carly Garrett of San Diego, California.
In addition to former volunteers speaking in classrooms, other highlights of Peace Corps Day on March 1 included:
* Twenty currently serving Peace Corps volunteers spoke via phone hook-ups with classrooms in the United States;
* Several states and dozens of cities declared March 1, by proclamation, "Peace Corps Day."
* Nicaragua Peace Corps staff combined Peace Corps Day celebrations at the U.S. embassy with Peace Corps' 10th anniversary in Nicaragua and the International year of the Volunteer.
* Volunteers in Jamaica, including the oldest serving volunteer on record at age 80, joined a Habitat for Humanity project to build two houses in rural Jamaica.
* A kick-off event for a three-day program at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, included a dinner, a panel discussion with the state's attorney general, and a roundtable with 20 former Peace Corps volunteers who are now faculty of the university; and
* Former volunteers in Portland, Oregon, sponsored an exhibit of art, artifacts, and photographs drawn from their Peace Corps memor.
Seven Coverdell Award recipientsoverdellaward.html">Seven Coverdell Award recipients