Schools & Education

The world arrives at Panoche Elementary School

Students learn about geography, world history through postcards.
The full map of postcards and where they came from. Photo provided by Amanda McCraw.
The full map of postcards and where they came from. Photo provided by Amanda McCraw.
A sample of some of the postcards. Photo provided by Amanda McCraw.
A sample of some of the postcards. Photo provided by Amanda McCraw.
Extra gifts received include giant maple leaves from Canada, a pine branch from Alaska and spices from Greece. Photo provided by Amanda McCraw.
Extra gifts received include giant maple leaves from Canada, a pine branch from Alaska and spices from Greece. Photo provided by Amanda McCraw.
Panoche School teacher and principal Amanda McCraw. Facebook photo.
Panoche School teacher and principal Amanda McCraw. Facebook photo.

What started out as a geography lesson quickly became numerous teachings on social studies, world history, and the power of social media when the four students of Panoche Elementary School asked for and received postcards from around the world. To date, the school has received over 150 postcards.

Panoche Elementary is a one-room school, and this year there are four students who are in the second, fourth, sixth, and eighth grades, respectively. Their teacher Amanda McCraw is also the school principal and the only employee of the school district. 

McCraw said it started in early September when she put out a request on her Facebook page asking for postcards to be sent to the school. She asked her contacts to share the post, which went on to get over 1,000 shares. McCraw then started a Panoche School Facebook page to share the request further; it too received over 1,000 shares.

“Postcards are a really great visual, they always have exciting art I thought the students would gravitate to,” McCraw said of the lesson.

Postcards came from most of the states, as well as countries including France, Spain, Italy, the Philippines and Germany. McCraw said the students used Google Translate to understand the German card.

The most surprising postcard came from Antarctica. Denise Hardoy, a teacher spending time on an expedition, sent it, though McCraw is not aware of Hardoy’s home country.

In addition to the cards, the Panoche School students also received gifts such as giant maple leaves from Canada, a pine branch from Alaska, and spices from Greece.

The senders included information about where they lived, adding historical, social, and geographical information about their regions. All locations are pinned on a world map in the school’s classroom, where students research each location and historical information provided by the sender. 

“I like them,” sixth-grader Emilia Gonzalez said of the postcards. “It is a really good way of learning about the world and history because people give us information about what is going on in their city and what has happened, what big events have happened there.” 

Gonzalez said her favorite card was the one from Antarctica because it came from so far and she learned about the location. The postcards have inspired her to travel; Paris is her no. 1 destination.

 

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Carmel de Bertaut

Carmel has a BA in Natural Sciences/Biodiversity Stewardship from San Jose State University and an AA in Communications Studies from West Valley Community College. She reports on science and the environment, arts and human interest pieces. Carmel has worked in the ecological and communication fields and is an avid creative writer and hiker. She has been reporting for BenitoLink since May, 2018 and covers Science and the Environment and Arts and Culture.