Mrs. Samantha Ramaswamy, a science teacher at Penn-Trafford High School, recently returned from a humanitarian project in Jamaica. Ramaswamy’s trip was part of the SuperKids project through Great Shape! Inc, a non-profit organization serving the Caribbean.
Ramaswamy was required to purchase her own flight and cover project fees to make the project possible. She was provided with room and board while on-site in Jamaica. In the months prior to her trip, she coordinated with both Penn-Trafford’s Science National Honor Society and National Honor Society to collect school supplies and monetary donations for the Jamaican students and teachers who frequently lack basic supplies like pencils and paper. “I was able to give each student a composition notebook that became their prized Science Notebook, as well as crayons and pencils,” said Ramaswamy. “We also gave teachers school supplies to use in their own classrooms.”
During her five days of service, Mrs. Ramaswamy taught literacy through science to 4th, 5th, and 6th graders. Much like at Penn-Trafford, students and staff followed COVID protocols by wearing masks and social distancing. Classes were held in a local church since schools are still online. Mrs. Ramaswamy and approximately 50 students covered topics such as observing with the five senses, asking scientific questions, and developing experiments. They enjoyed numerous hands-on lessons like Alka-Seltzer rockets, soda with mentos and baking soda, and using glitter to demonstrate soap’s effectiveness.
Brad Adams of Great Shape! Inc. had the following to say about Mrs. Ramaswamy: “ I have been working and leading projects in Jamaica for 15 years and Samantha Ramaswamy is the best kind of volunteer to have; willing, able, enthusiastic, helpful, and ready for new challenges. Samantha has become an essential part of our team and is a great asset to our projects.”
Asked how her experience will impact her teaching at Penn-Trafford, Ramaswamy responded, “Jamaica taught me that it’s important to be flexible in any teaching environment. As I taught science lessons in Jamaica, I did not have the teaching materials that I was accustomed to - instead I needed to use what I had to develop engaging lessons. I will bring this mindset back to PT. No matter the obstacle, it is possible to overcome with a little flexibility and resiliency. I’m grateful for just how lucky we are at PT, and I’ve shared this with my students. They have already asked what we can do to continue helping the students of Jamaica throughout this year and into future years.”
PTHS principal Tony Aquilio wasn't the least bit surprised that Mrs. Ramaswamy would give back in this fashion; "She has always been one we can rely on to train our staff and students on the newest technology and educational strategies," he said. "Her devotion to teaching both students and staff is a prime example of the passion our staff has for education."