Denton students, community gather thousands of books to help children in Uganda in project started by UNT faculty member

Wednesday, April 16, 2014 - 13:40

Students at E.P. Rayzor Elementary School in the Denton Independent School District helped gather thousands of books to be sent to children in Uganda as part of a project started by University of North Texas College of Education Associate Professor Marc Cutright.

"We all appreciate the opportunity to connect," said Abbas Tashakkori, professor and chair of the Department of Educational Psychology at UNT. Tashakkori's daughter, Ariana, and four other Rayzor fifth graders formed a group to coordinate collecting books for Ugandan children, under the supervision of their teacher Tricia Jahnke and Principal Mary Dunlevy. Other students in the project are Taylor McMillan, Emily Langley, Zoe Rutt, and Lindsay Wilson.

Joined by other students, teachers and parents, the five fifth graders gathered more than 2,300 books, nearly half of the 4,800 books gathered by the community.

"The biggest outcome here was that the kids learnt a lot from the activity, connected to children in Uganda and developed leadership skills. As one of the parents, I am grateful for the opportunity," Tashakkori says.

The books are being shipped to Uganda.

"When I began this, it was quite a small project," said Cutright, who is in Uganda this semester as a Fulbright scholar working with universities on the expansion of access to higher education and the enhancement of its quality. "My ambition was to get some books for five kids I know personally, and to perhaps have to pay an extra bag charge after I made a very fast trip to Texas last month. I contacted some colleagues in the College of Education, my friends on Facebook, etc., and asked for a bit of help. Little did I know that they would contact their friends, and their friends their friends."

Cutright found a non-governmental organization to ship the books, which weigh nearly a ton.

"So many people gave books anonymously that I have no idea how many people gave, but I know it ranged from a book or three, to hundreds," he said. "And I know the kids at E.P. Rayzor hit their own libraries, those of friends and relatives, and Dr. Tashakkori tells me that some kids even went door-to-door collecting. And they did this in about a week? Amazing. It is testimony, I think, to the deep yearning of people to help those in need. All that needs to be provided is a tangible means to do so."

About UNT's College of Education

UNT's College of Education prepares students to contribute to the advancement of education, health and human development. Founded in 1890 as a teacher's training college, UNT now enrolls more than 4,000 students in the College of Education, which consists of four departments -- counseling and higher education; educational psychology; kinesiology, health promotion and recreation; and teacher education and administration. UNT's College of Education certifies about 1,000 teachers a year -- making it the largest producer of new teachers in the north Texas region. Students are also prepared for careers as researchers, counselors, leaders, physical activity and health promotion specialists, child development and family studies specialists and more.

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