El Cerrito kindergarten teacher Madeleine Rogin said the surprise presentation of a $10,000 classroom grant on Thursday felt like an episode of the old television show "This is Your Life," with her mother and sister both in attendance along with dozens of cheering elementary students in the auditorium at the Tapscott campus of Prospect Sierra School.
Rogin is a native of Berkeley and graduate of Berkeley High School who now lives in El Cerrito.
She studied urban education and writing at The New School for Social Research in New York City and applies its guiding principle of promoting global peace and justice in the Peaceful Changemakers Curriculum that was the basis of her winning entry in the Great American Teach-off competition sponsored by social media platform GOOD in partnership with the University of Phoenix.
From the contest site: "The Peaceful Changemakers Curriculum that Rogin developed with her team of kindergarten teachers is a framework that allows her students to gain a deeper understanding for issues around civil rights, social change, peace and courage as well as to take action to solve problems. Teachers in first through fourth grades are now using the curriculum to teach their students about key figures in the civil rights movement. Rogin is devoted to helping young children gain the skills and knowledge to make positive changes in their communities."
Rogin said she "would love people to know that our project is about teaching our students how to be global citizens by engaging in service projects both locally and globally."
The local aspect will focus on the restoration of the Pacific Chorus Frog habitat at a portion of Baxter Creek that runs next to the hillside school at Canyon Trail Park.
"Every spring we raise tadpoles in our classroom and release them into the small pond at Canyon Trail Park," Rogin said in March. "If we win the $10,000 grant, we would be able to support this work on a much deeper level."
The global aspect involves partnering with Basic Services Primary School in Takoradi, Ghana.
Rogin said her husband is from Ghana and has worked with the school for a number of years. Rogin volunteered at the school last summer while her daughters attended kindergarten there.
She said the grant can help the school meet its need for basic school supplies, but she also wants to establish a more meaningful relationship between the students in Ghana and their counterparts in El Cerrito.
"They do have a computer center, and we would use a portion of the grant to set them up with Skype so that our students could communicate with their students," she said in March. "Too often, our children still think of Africa as the land with all the wild animals. They are shocked to learn that there are taxis and big buildings and elevators and schools a lot like ours."
She explained that "the focus of this project is on cross-cultural communication and on building our students' cultural competency skills -- the ability to communicate across difference. Cultural competency is a skill set that is essential to educating our children in the 21st century, when they will be expected to be able to communicate with people from all around the globe."
Rogin has videos explaining the aspects of her winning entry on the Great American Teachoff website at http://kto6gato.maker.good.is/projects/7998?sort=487.