Local teacher brings home lessons from abroad
by Michelle Babcock
November 14, 2013 12:41 AM | 1573 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Third-grade teacher  Sabrina Gapen (center) sits with students in Haiti during her 2012 trip to the country. This year, she’s raising money for a second trip and funds to build the students in Haiti a new school, with the help of her own students at Cherokee Charter Academy.
Third-grade teacher Sabrina Gapen (center) sits with students in Haiti during her 2012 trip to the country. This year, she’s raising money for a second trip and funds to build the students in Haiti a new school, with the help of her own students at Cherokee Charter Academy.
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Gapen shows pictures of her trip to a school in Haiti to her students at Cherokee Charter Academy in Canton.
Gapen shows pictures of her trip to a school in Haiti to her students at Cherokee Charter Academy in Canton.
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A third-grade Cherokee Charter Academy teacher is helping her students in Canton learn about giving by raising money for children in Haiti, after she took her lessons and expertise to students in the country last year through a Charter Schools U.S.A. mission.

Sabrina Gapen said she heard about the opportunity to teach in Haiti during a CSUSA summit before school started in 2012. She taught her students about the country and its children, and they helped raise money to send school supplies and basic hygiene items to a school in Haiti.

“They got to see what it looked like and my students got really involved and told all of their parents about it, and it kind of spread like wildfire. It got on the morning announcements. I had a very large suitcase filled to the brim, I could barely shut it, with toothbrushes and toothpaste, enough for everyone in the school and then some,” Gapen said.

Gapen is raising money for Haiti again, but the mission has grown. This year, the CEO of CSUSA said they would match any funds raised to build a new school building in Haiti, Gapen said, and a camera crew from the nonprofit Passion Rescue Mission, which operates the school, is going with her to share their fundraising mission.

“They’re actually going to have a nice school building. They’re one of the only public schools in Haiti,” Gapen said. “So now, we are raising awareness to build the school. This time, I’m going and I’m bringing a camera crew with me. We’re trying to do some videoing of the children. A day in the life of a child, and we’re going to interview some teachers.”

Cherokee Charter Academy is helping Gapen raise money for the work in Haiti. On Wednesday, students could donate a dollar to wear jeans to school, instead of their regular uniform, Gapen said.

“All of that money is going straight to help build the school,” she said.

The school building that Gapen and Passion Rescue Mission hope to rebuild is now operating out of “a tiny little church.”

“They have wooden benches that you can easily get splinters from, they have three chalk boards and chalk. That’s literally it. The kids don’t have any books, no pencils, no paper. They just sat and listened and were just so eager to learn,” Gapen said. “They were just happy to be there, it renewed my spirit in teaching and that drive to learn and to better yourself. And it made me grateful for those resources that I had at home and easily take for granted.”

Gapen said her class alone has raised “at least” $400, and total, Gapen has raised about $1,400 with an overall goal of $2,000.

“They are super involved,” she said of her students. “I’ve had a couple of kids go to their churches, and a couple of kids did a lemonade stand and brought me the money from that. They’ve brought in a ton of different money for the cause.”

She shared photos from the last trip with her students, and they checked out Haiti in Google Streetview and looked at maps of the country, Gapen said.

“It really lit a fire in them,” she said.

CSUSA schools are also raising money to send supplies and gifts to children in Haiti for Christmas, on top of the cost for the new school.

Passion Rescue Mission takes online donations, and offers opportunities to sponsor children and teachers. Their website is PassionRescueMission.org.

A testimonial of Gapen’s work with Passion Rescue Mission can be found online, at http://youtu.be/wXC9EA7Db84.

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