Franklin Towne Charter strengthens its bonds with West African school


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The Benia International School has a strong bond with Franklin Towne Charter.

The Duazon, Liberia elementary school welcomed a shipment of more than 2,000 study materials from FTC Elementary Charter School last month.

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When FTC Assistant Principal Jamie Neal found out, through the Philly Educators website, that the West African school was in need, the wheels were set in motion.

“Sometimes we take for granted our good fortune, and that there are children in other cities and countries who don’t have opportunities to benefit from access to textbooks as part of their education,” Neal said. “We changed our curriculum and no longer had a need for these materials, and we didn’t want to see these books go to waste. So, it was a win-win when we found the opportunity to donate them to the Benia School.”

Neal leads the grades K-3 program at FTC and knows as well as anyone, the value of proper educational materials. The connection was self-evident.

“They win because they needed the books, and we win because it gives our children and our school a chance to learn more about children in other parts of the world,” Neal said.

The donation was enabled with the assistance of Bishop Amos Tarpeh Jr. from the Bishop of Foreign Missions. On a recent trip to Liberia, Tarpeh delivered the materials to the Benia School.

In addition to more than 2,000 English and Language Arts textbooks, the donation included science and laboratory materials, as well as mathematics teaching aids.

“Thank you for all your support to the Benia International School,” Pastor Tarpeh wrote in a recent email to Neal, forwarding pictures of the school and its students. “We are excited . . . (and) we look forward to working with you now and in the future.”

The partnership between Benia and FTC Elementary will continue to expand. Students here and in West Africa can benefit from the exchange, with programs including a pen-pal program Neal is starting for her students and their counterparts in Duazon.

FTCES Superintendent James Rodgers Jr. reaffirmed the school’s support for its newfound “partner” halfway around the world.

“For us, this donation was a no-brainer,” Rodgers said. “We no longer had a need for these materials, but when we discovered the need at Benia, it became a great way to put these materials to good use and help children who would otherwise not have the opportunity to benefit from them.

“And at the same time, our kids can learn that the world is bigger than our city and our school,” Rodgers said. “They get to learn about the culture and challenges of students living halfway around the world in Africa.”

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