Hinesburg children read together, support girls’ education in Africa

Annette’s Preschool FaceTime session with Hinesburg Community School to discuss a joint picture book reading this month.
Annette’s Preschool FaceTime session with Hinesburg Community School to discuss a joint picture book reading this month.

By Andrea Sambrook, Director of Annette’s Preschool and Jo Evelti, PreK/Special Ed Teacher, Hinesburg Community School

Nearly 100 preschool and school age children joined together for a Hinesburg community book read of “Where Are You Going, Manyoni?” by Catherine Stock in January. This beautifully illustrated book tells a story of a young African girl, Manyoni, and how she travels barefoot every day on her two-hour journey to get to and from school. Page by page, the book richly illustrates the African veld, its animals, and its culture in a developmentally appropriate way for children.

This book was selected for its exceptional illustrations and its potential to raise awareness among young children as to the importance of access to education. With the help of Hinesburg Community School’s (HCS) Jo Evelti and Annette’s Preschool teachers, the two schools were able to set up a FaceTime visit so that the children could “meet” each other and discuss Manyoni’s school, her long journey to get there, and the supplies that she needs to study and learn. They talked together about how Manyoni’s school was similar to and different from HCS and Annette’s Preschool. Some children attend both Hinesburg schools and were excited to see familiar friends and teachers on the other side of the screen during school.

This community book read is a collaboration that extends beyond a simple lesson in cultural awareness. The picture book, the most basic and powerful tool in early education, opened the door to a community partnership between the two schools, and highlighted the importance of helping children less fortunate than themselves.

Each school will be making a donation and inviting families to join them to purchase supplies for a girl to begin and/or continue her education through www.camfed.orgTogether, the two schools are helping support young girls like the fictional Manyoni, so that as grown educated women, they become leaders in their own communities. It has been illustrated that when educated women hold strong, positive roles in their community, rates of poverty and maternal and child illness are reduced. If you are interested in making a donation, please contact Evelti at (802) 482-6234 or Sambrook at (802) 482-2525 before Friday, Feb. 13.

Annette’s Preschool and the Hinesburg Pre-K program collaborate monthly on shared community events, best practices, and professional training for educators which is supported in part by the Vermont Community Preschool Collaborative (VCPC). VCPC is an initiative supported by the Permanent Fund for Vermont’s Children, the A.D. Henderson Foundation, and the Turrell Fund, The Vermont Children’s Trust Fund, other private funders, and the State of Vermont.