LAURINBURG — Students at I. Ellis Johnson Elementary School have spent the past two weeks road tripping across the United States making pit stops in 36 of the 50 states — including Alaska and Hawaii.
The pint-sized travelers are on a mission to see the United States without ever leaving the comforts of their classroom. Heather Bounds, a pre-K teacher at IEJ, began a project to teach her students about global awareness, so she decided to take her students on a road trip across the country using postcards.
“Over the first snow break, I was thinking about expanding their horizons and one of the things we need to do in pre-K is teach them global awareness,” Bounds said. “I thought what better way than to have a piece of other states. They maybe have family in New York, Florida, and New Jersey but actually visiting there is a completely different thing.”
I. Ellis Johnson posted a photo of the flyer Bounds created for the project and instantly it was a hit. In just the first few days the post had been shared over 700 times. Since then, the students have received postcards almost daily from 36 different states.
The class has received numerous postcards from several states including Ohio, North Carolina, Colorado and New York — but each one taught the students something different about that particular state.
“This thing has exploded, we’ve gotten postcards from 36 different states in two weeks — that blows my mind. This is little old Laurinburg, but it spread,” Bounds said. “I don’t want them just to see the popular spaces in New York City, I want them to see that the state of New York has grass and waterfalls.”
People aren’t just sending in blank postcards with a photo from their state though, each card the class has received provided information about where the person is living and a fun or interesting fact about their state.
Postcards come on a daily basis, but that doesn’t diminish the student’s excitement each time Bounds brings her “Ms. Heather’s Mail” box into the classroom.
“We have a box in the office so when they see me come in with the box, they are like ‘we got mail, we got mail.’ They can’t wait to go through it and see which state we’re going to be talking about that day,” Bounds said.
Some of the people mailing the postcards are former Scotland County residents — Bounds even received one from a former student.
“On Tuesday, we opened one from Washington state from a student I had several years ago that has moved so that was really cool,” she said. “We got one from Texas from a guy in the Army and he told us about what he does — he drives helicopters — and the boys really thought that was neat. The fact that Army men are taking the opportunity to write us, is big to them.”
The class will continue the project throughout the rest of the year, as the postcards continue to come in. Currently, the students have not received postcards from 14 states — Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Idaho, Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Bounds said those who live in one of the 36 states the class has already received a postcard from are more than welcome to still send one because she wants to teach the children about all the different areas of each state.
Those wishing to send a postcard to the students of Mrs. Bounds’ pre-K class can mail them to: I. Ellis Johnson School c/o Mrs. Heather’s Pre-K class, 815 McGirts Bridge Road, Laurinburg NC 28352.
Amber Hatten-Staley can be reached at 910-506-3170 or firstname.lastname@example.org.