Tucson Country Day School Makes Newspaper for Helping Students in Kibera

An Arizona Daily Star reporter and photographer visited our school Tuesday to learn more about the Child to Child Project: Sharing Kindness With Kibera that we have been working on since the beginning of the school year. Our project culminated with our students making picture frames – with Kibera students pictures in them – to send back to the kids in Kibera, most of whom have not seen themselves before.

Here is a link to the Arizona Daily Star article:




Pen pal project connected kids from Tucson to Africa

by Perla Trevizo


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Ali, Maddy and Tatum work on picture frames for their Kibera pen pals.



Most of the students in Kibera don’t have pictures of themselves, and  many have never even seen themselves because there are no mirrors.

Learning about others and extending a helping hand is what drew Daniel into the pen-pal school project with children from Africa.

“Maybe one day you will need help just like them, and maybe they can help you,” said the 10-year-old as he decorated a picture of one of the children from Kibera, one of the largest slums in the world with about 1 million residents.

More than 750 Tucson Country Day School students took part in a yearlong effort, which included sending letters to students in Kibera, outside Nairobi, Kenya, filling a suitcase with crayons, pencils and other school supplies donated by the students and their families, and which is culminating this week with the art project.

Most of the students in Kibera don’t have pictures of themselves — many have never even seen themselves because there are no mirrors, school officials said. So as part of the Child to Child Project: Sharing Kindness With Kibera, the students decorated and framed pictures of their pen pals, glued on purple cloth, with their names to be sent back to Africa.

Part of the Common Core standards is to push children to think globally, said Terra Maddock, a fifth- grade teacher at Tucson Country Day School. “We thought, ‘Let’s do something with another country and try to be pen pals.’ ”

Through word of mouth, they heard of someone who worked in Kibera who came to the school to talk to the children about life in the slum and the importance of education.

What struck Hunter, 11, the most from the visit was that guest Charles Nderitu told students he was 18 when he owned his first pair of shoes.

“It made me feel sad,” the fifth-grader said, “because when you don’t have shoes until you are 18 you are stepping on the hot ground and your feet are burning.”

She also wants their classrooms to be bigger. The students saw pictures of 30 to 40 of their pen pals wearing their blue-and-red uniforms crammed into little classrooms with dirt floors and walls made with metal sheeting.

Even after the project is done, Hunter said, she would like to keep helping people because she gets a “tingly feeling” in her body that makes her happy. And one day she would like to visit Africa to see what it’s like over there and work with people.

Maddock said she’s seen her students form long-lasting relationships across the world.

“I have seen how generous and thoughtful my students can be,” she said. “It’s proven that it’s really more about giving than getting.”

And along the way, they also worked on teamwork and writing, and learned to communicate better with one another, she said.


Kindergarten Students Write Letters to Pen Pals in Kibera

The pictures are in! Kindergarten students are taking part, along with students in all grade levels, in pen pal letter-writing to children in Kibera.

Students wrote letters in December, and now they are eagerly awaiting letters in return from their pen pals. Letters should arrive next month.

Here’s a look at Ms. Amber’s class, hard at work writing letters to their pen pals in December.

Great work, kindergarten students!


Aria concentrates on her writing.


Xander and Madilynn work hard as they write to their pen pals.


Ian focuses on what to write to his pen pal.


Logan shows us his finished letter and drawing.


Joshua has a lot of neat things to write to his pen pal.


Sabrina is creating her pen pal letter.

Kibera Pen Pal Letters Expected to Arrive Next Month

Many of our students are pen pals with students in Kibera, which is in Nairobi, Kenya in Africa. Our kids received letters from Kibera, wrote back, and now, we’ve heard that a new set of letters from the kids in Kibera will be heading back to TCDS soon. The letters should arrive in February.

Becky Nissen, who is helping us transport the letters to and from Africa, says she knows it’s a slow process, but they are so grateful for what our school and students are doing.

 We’re excited to be a part of this neat pen pal project, and we hope that it is a great experience for all involved.

“Stuff the Suitcase” For Kibera Students

Fourth grade students in Ms. Mazon’s class and fifth grade students in Mrs. Maddock’s class organized and “classified” supplies that preschool through fifth grade students collected for our pen pal project with students in Kibera, which is in Nairobi, Africa.

Pencils, crayons, small games, pencil sharpeners, markers, stickers, balloons and a backpack were among the items students and parents donated. Once separated into groups, students “stuffed” a suitcase full of the supplies.

Pen pal letters from students in kindergarten through eighth grade were also included in the suitcase.

What an amazing experience – and the pictures show it!

The suitcase will be sent with a person affiliated with the students and schools in Kibera who will visit Africa in January. 


Ryan and Nathaniel sorted supplies before putting them in the suitcase that will go to students in Kibera, which is in Africa.



David, Adriaan and Alexis helped sort the school supplies.



Jayden and Anjelica put similar school supplies together. Marissa, in the background, sorted school supplies.



Hunter, Bryson, Viona and Isabella sorted school supplies before they went into the suitcase.



Aubrey and Zoe looked at all the school supplies and then put them into groups.



Students stuffed the suitcase with all of the school supplies and the pen pal letters that our school wrote to students in Kibera.



Aubrey and Jonathan placed items in the suitcase.

Special Assembly Gets Students Excited for Africa Pen Pal Project

A new project is in store for Tucson Country Day School! Many classes – at several grade levels – are going to be pen pals with students in Kibera, which is in Nairobi, Kenya in Africa. 

The students we are pen pals with in Africa live in less fortunate situations than most of us do. Most of them only eat one meal a day – a small bowl of a food similar to porridge that they are fed at school. They also usually don’t wear shoes. The students are packed side-by-side into classrooms, struggling to focus on learning. 

TCDS students got to learn about the living and school environment of the students in Kibera when special guest speaker Charles Nderitu came all the way from Africa to speak to our students. Students in preschool all the way through eighth grade were treated to the wonderful assembly recently. Students even learned a game, song and movements that kids in Kibera know. 

During the assembly, Ms. Savage, our music teacher led several students in playing African music with instruments. She also chose other students to participate in an African group dance. 

Our students have been working on curriculum-based projects to send to the students in Kibera. The projects include written brochures about Arizona, life stories and letters to students in Kibera, to name a few. All who are involved in this pen pal project are very excited and eager to participate.

In kindergarten, each class chose to write about a different topic regarding Arizona. Ms. Kari’s class wrote about the food here, Mr. Jason’s class focused on our state’s monuments, Ms. Jaclyn’s students discussed plants native to Arizona, and Ms. Amber’s class wrote about the wildlife. The students loved it and were so excited to help out less fortunate kids.

Guest speaker Charles brought pen pal letters that children in Kibera wrote for TCDS students. Many students and classes will continue to be pen pals with the children in Kibera during the school year.

Students will be learning not only about another student in halfway across the world, but also about a different culture as well as a way of life that is different from theirs. They will also be working on their reading, writing and social studies, while helping Kibera students practice their English skills as well. 

There were two assemblies – one for preschool through third grade and a second assembly for fourth through eighth grade. At the end of the second assembly, many students went up to greet Charles, giving him hugs, high fives and thanking him for coming to Tucson.

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Projects from TCDS students that will be given to students in Kibera


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More projects from our students that will be given to students in Kibera


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Our students participated in many curriculum-based projects to send to students in Kibera.


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Student projects to give to students in Kibera. The students who receive them will be pen pals with our students during the school year.


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Letters and pictures from students in Kibera, which will be given to our students in many grade levels so they can be pen pals throughout the school year.


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Pen pal letters from students in Kibera


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Students made a sign to welcome guest speaker Charles, who came from Kibera in Africa to speak to our students.


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Becky Nissen and guest speaker Charles Nderitu. Becky is  a friend of Lauren DeLillo in the TCDS Business Office. Becky helped organize bringing Charles to TCDS.


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Students get ready for the assembly


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Guest speaker Charles Nderitu speaks to our students about life in Kibera.


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Charles taught our students a song and movements to go along.


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Movements to the song were fun!


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Our teachers and volunteers really got into the movements with our students.


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Students having a great time with the movements to the song taught at the assembly


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We all had a great time!


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Moving to the music


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Many new and fun movements were taught! Students in Kibera learned this song and movement too.


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Our students listened attentively to Charles speak out students and life in Kibera which is in Africa.


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Charles speaking to our students


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Students were focusing on what Charles had to say about students in less fortunate situations in Kibera.


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Ms. Savage taught several students an instrumental African song.


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Charles listened to the student’s music.


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Other students learned an African dance that Ms. Savage taught them, and they performed it during the assembly.


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Performing an African dance


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Performing an African dance that Ms. Savage taught students


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Our students did a great job performing an African dance


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Performing an African dance that Ms. Savage taught students


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Now, all the students got to dance to the music.


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Dancing to the African music


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The students had a fun time dancing.


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Charles taught students how to play a game that students in Kibera play.


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The students really got into the game.


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All of the students displayed great sportsmanship.


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A new game to try out on the soccer field


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The older students began their assembly very attentive.


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Students get ready to perform an African song with instruments


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Listening to the music


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Our students were very respectful and listened attentively.


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Fourth through eighth grade students learn a fun song and movements.


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Fourth through eighth grade students learn a fun song and movements.


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Fourth through eighth grade students learn a fun song and movements.


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Fourth through eighth grade students really got into a fun song and movements.


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Charles taught the students different movements to go with a new song they learned.


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Our students had a lot of fun learning the new movements!


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Our students had a lot of fun learning new moves.


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Students listening as they learn about the lives of students in Kibera.


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Listening to guest speaker Charles talk about the home and school situations of children in Kibera


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Time to dance to African music


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Our students clapped along.


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Our students clapped to the music.


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All of the students then got to try some of the dance moves


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Ms. Savage demonstrated some dance moves for the students.


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Playing a game students in Africa play


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Our students watched and listened to all that Charles told them about students in Kibera.


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After the assembly, many students came up to give hugs and thank Charles for coming to present at TCDS.


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Students wait patiently to greet Charles.


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Many students were impressed by what Charles told them, and they came up to give hugs and thank Charles for coming to present at TCDS.


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Mrs. Huetter took a moment to speak to Charles after the assembly.


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More hugs and thank you’s for Charles.


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Charles really made a great impression on our students.


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Mrs. Kappler and Charles talk after the assembly.


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KGUN9 News came to take video of the assembly, and some students even got to be interviewed about the penpal letters.


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A KGUN9 photographer interviewing one of our students about our penpal letters with students in Kibera which is in Africa.

In addition to pen pal letters, our students also plan to help spread kindness by collecting school supplies to send to the students in Kibera. This is a project – put together mostly through Project Wisdom – that is sure to positively impact our students.