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Statesmen Named ‘Friends of Education’ by OEA


During the annual Oskaloosa Education Association (OEA) meeting held in late May, two Statesmen were recognized alongside area educators for their contributions to education. The diligent volunteer efforts of alumni Esther Lwakabamba (‘16) and Development/Gift Stewardship Officer Heidi Scholes (’10) earned them the Friends of Education Award from the OEA.

Oskaloosa Middle School teachers Kirsten Stek and Mollie Roach nominated Scholes and Lwakabamba after the duo brought to life William Penn University’s Global Relationships and Awareness Student Program (GRASP) Global Classroom Adventure during the fall. The Global Classroom Adventure program aims to unite William Penn University students and Oskaloosa Middle School students. Scholes says that what the program is trying to achieve is a relatively new concept unique from anything other universities are currently doing.

“The ultimate goal of all of it was to create a program that truly lends itself to cross-cultural understanding and building relationships that are deep. Not that [Penn students] interact just one time for 15 minutes with [an Oskaloosa Middle School] student and that’s it,” explained Scholes. “We want it to keep going and present both sides with opportunities where they can continue to build those relationships. Hopefully that informal interaction leads to understanding that someone can be completely different from you but also very similar.”

At the OEA meeting, Stek said she and Roach nominated Lwakabamba and Scholes for the Friends of Education Award because the pair had spent an entire school year committed to some of the sixth grade classrooms at Oskaloosa Middle School.

“Because they worked together so consistently, students got to that first-name basis and expressed a desire to stay in touch by the end,” said Lwakabamba. “I feel like that is one of the pieces of evidence that the program worked.”

Participants of the program visited during Genius Hour at OMS, where William Penn students first helped OMS students to create games built from cardboard. The second big project during Genius Hour was a collaborative effort between students to create a Rube Goldberg machine, which is a purposefully complex contraption in which a series of devices are joined to perform simple tasks, such as turning off a light switch or popping a balloon.

Lwakabamba hopes the program can help foster strong leaders in the Oskaloosa area.

“We really wanted to create a platform for both [William Penn students and Oskaloosa Middle School students] to be able to engage with each other and within that aspect is also allowing the next generation of leaders to learn from the current generation of leaders,” she said.

The program hopes to return to the Oskaloosa Community School District in the fall. Those interested in learning more about GRASP are invited to attend a cultural workshop at William Penn University to learn more on Saturday, June 24, in the Scheuermann Room of the Dana M. Atkins Memorial Union. The workshop, which will go from 1 – 3:30 p.m. on the Oskaloosa campus, is an opportunity to network with members of the Oskaloosa community who are interested in promoting cross-cultural awareness and understanding.

For more information on the workshop, contact Heidi Scholes at or call 641-673-1297.


For more information, contact:

Hailey Brown
Communications/Event Coordinator
William Penn University
(641) 673-1078 |

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