Reed Intermediate School, Newtown, Conn.
Newtown Federation of Teachers, Local 1727
Karen King received her AFT Everyday Hero award at the 2011 TEACH conference for her exceptional ability to bring the world to her students by including them in many of her local and international volunteer projects. "I became a teacher because I wanted to follow my lifelong dream of making a difference in the world," King said when accepting her award.
King and her students started a school supply drive called "Pencils for Peace" for a school that had been destroyed in the conflict in Kosovo. Pencils for Peace started with the King's students writing letters to small and large businesses to collect pencils for the Kosovar students. This effort then evolved into a community-wide fundraiser that raised more than $12,000 to help rebuild the devastated school's library.
Over the years, King traveled to Haiti to train teachers. Once again, she and her students started another educational project they called, "Walk a Mile in their Shoes" to collect and send 2,000 pairs of sneakers to Haitian children so they could attend school.
AFT Everyday Hero Karen King meets talk show host Bill Press before addressing the TEACH audience.
From 2008 -2009, King helped organize the "Eye to Eye" photography project where students from the Reed Intermediate school in Newtown and the Carolyn A. Miller School in the Buduburam (Boo-doo-bur-um) Refugee Camp in Ghana, West Africa, spent a year sharing letters, poems, songs and photographs about their everyday lives. Not only did the students get to know one another, but they also used the photography project to raise money for the school in the refugee camp and then to continue the school when they were able to return to their home country of Liberia.
Most recently, King has successfully raised more than $50,000 to start an eye clinic in Liberia, the homeland of her students' pen pals.
A little closer to home, King also involves her students in a variety of charity work such as having them help her feed homeless people at the Dorothy Day Center in Danbury, Conn.
When thanking AFT members for voting her to be an AFT Everyday Hero, King noted, “You don’t have to look very far in our business to find heroes.” She then named several teachers in her school she considers to be heroes because they lead innovative learning programs, volunteer to create challenging curricula and attend local school board meetings to give educators a voice in policy matters. “There are everyday heroes in every one of us,” King added.
Besides being a dedicated teacher and an inspiration to her colleagues, King is exposing her students to the wide world around them and teaching us all that one person can make a difference. [Photo by Michael Campbell/Video by Matthew Jones and Brett Sherman]
AFT Everyday Hero awardee addresses RIC students, What's News online @Rhode Island College
Reed Teacher is 'Everyday Hero' Finalist, Newtown Patch