WARREN - To help enhance their writing skills, second-graders in Jennifer Hartman's class at Willard K-8 have written letters and sent photos to a second-grade class in Florida as part of a pen pal program.
Lorraine Trina, who is a PK-2 math coach at Lincoln and Willard schools, said her daughter, Mekenzie, who is an elementary teacher in Florida, was home at Christmas and remarked how her students in Florida have never seen snow.
Many of the Willard students have never seen the ocean.
"I thought it would be nice if one of the second-grade classes at Willard could be the pen pals to my daughter's second-grade class in Florida," Trina said.
Hartman said the core learning standards for the second grade suggest a pen pal activity as part of the learning between classrooms. She said when Trina mentioned her daughter's class in Florida, she thought that could be the pen pal's class.
Hartman liked the idea, so her students began sending letters to Trina's daughter's class at the G. Weaver Hipps Elementary School in Lehigh Acres, near Fort Myers.
Hartman said for each letter, the students provide ideas and they create one large letter from the entire class and also send photos. Four letters were sent since February and three received.
Hartman said she wanted to send pictures of snow but it hardly snowed this winter. One day there was snow on a weekend, so she drove to Willard School and took photos of the snow by the school and on the playground.
"The students felt they had a connection. When I visited my daughter over spring break in Florida, she said how much her students appreciated the letters," Trina said.
Trina brought back seashells and a starfish autographed by the students for the Warren second-graders. They also wrote about the ocean and beach and sent photos.
"It was exciting to see how the students' writing improved as the year went on," Trina said.
Aaliyah Pecorrelli, 8, said she liked getting the letters and wants to meet the second-graders. She said she liked getting the seashells and starfish, which were put with the fish tank in the classroom.
William Loggins, 9, said he liked photos of the beaches and told in the letter about his class's trip to the Oh Wow! Center.
Hartman said the curriculums are very similar and both schools use computers to enhance the learning.
Hartman said when she placed the letters in the hallways she noticed other teachers and students eager to stop and read them.
"As soon as we received a new letter everyone wanted to read it,'' Hartman said.
"Ms. Hartman's class also felt a connection with my daughter's class because they were familiar with me ... It has been a great experience for both classes," Trina said.
Trina said the two schools are similar in their economics. The Florida class has 17 students and Hartman's class has 22 students. Trina and Hartman said they noticed similarities between the two schools, such as the school year starting and ending about the same time. The Florida students' classroom is in an old Kmart building.
The Florida children only have playground time once a week on Fridays due to focus on academics. "They were very interested in the Willard School's playground," Trina said.