KAREN CARTER

Karen Carter - Postcards For Peace AmbassadorMy name is Karen Carter and I am Head Teacher of Lockerbie Primary School in south-west Scotland. Sadly, Lockerbie’s history means that we are known across the world for a terrorist attack in 1988. A number of those who died on that night were students returning to Syracuse University in USA. One of the positive outcomes is that for many years now, two senior students from Lockerbie Academy, with whom we share a campus, attend Syracuse University for a year. Many of these Syracuse students are our former pupils and have represented our town extremely well.

For the last four years, as a school, we have had a focus on peace education. Many teaching staff were trained in the Peace Prevails programme and it forms part of our Health and Wellbeing Programme of Learning for all pupils. We celebrate International Peace Day in September each year with a focus of work leading up to a time for reflection assembly involving parents and the local community as well as our pupils and staff. In 2014 we installed a Peace Pole at our school entrance. This has the phrase “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in English, French, Italian, Turkish, Russian, KiSwahili, Polish, Spanish and Braille. These languages are the languages of many of our partner schools across the world. Each child and member of staff in our school on the day the Peace Pole was installed wrote their name and a peace phrase on a small piece of paper and around 450 of these were put inside the Pole. Our peace activities are shared with these partners who participate in different ways. We have exchanged folded peace cranes, hearts and butterflies with schools in different countries at this time and have sent friendship bracelets, peace cards and peace poems to our partners.  We are linked with a large number of schools across Europe in addition to schools in Kenya, India, Sri Lanka and Russia. In 2015, each member of our school community wrote his/ her name on a card heart and these are tied to our Peace Tree at the main door of our school. In 2016, we all wrote our names on a small wooden heart which was put together as a picture. These are visual reminders which children, families and the local community see daily to remind us all about our pledge for peace.

With a degree in Spanish and French, I have a long standing interest in promoting global citizenship, a love of other languages and international education within my school. Annually we take a group of P7 (10-11 year olds) pupils to visit partners across the world. In the last few years we have visited Moscow, Sicily, Portugal (both Porto and Lisbon areas in two different years), Poland, Lithuania, France, Bulgaria, southern Italy, Czech Republic, Crete and Istanbul). Staff members have also visited and taught in schools in Jordan and Kenya. The experience of teaching in a Palestinian refugee camp in near Amman in Jordan is one which will stay with me for a very long time!  Children really are the way to influence the future. We need to facilitate children to have the resilience and confidence to be able to influence the future. At a young age they do not see colour, disability, religion, race or sexuality. They see friends.