MCPS Writing Program 'Pens' Lasting Friendship
Proof rewards in teaching don’t always come in a paycheck or an award to hang on the wall.
While texting and social media has become the norm for students, two Manassas City Public Schools teachers have had the opportunity to reflect on a timeless tradition that connected two students in ways they couldn’t have imagined.
Educators often hear the sayings, “teachers make a difference” or “teachers touch the future”, but rarely get to experience the meaning of those sayings first hand. Pam Belch, a teacher a Haydon Elementary and Cindy Kline, a teacher at Weems Elementary have had that opportunity.
During the late 1990’s and early 2000’s both teachers were teaching second grade at their respective schools. During that time they started a pen pal program to help develop their students writing skills. At the end of each school year the two classes would have a picnic together at Stonewall Park to meet their pen pals in person.
The two teachers who had been long time friends had often talked about how interesting it would be if some of their students would actually become friends later in their school careers. These two friends and colleagues found out that very thing happened with two of their former students.
Hugh Campbell from Pam Belch’s class and Ben Binkley from Cindy Kline’s class are rising seniors at Osbourn High School. Ben and Hugh both started at Mayfield Intermediate as sixth graders the first year it opened. They were both Gifted and Talented (G/T) students and both played the violin. They had a few classes together and as fate would have it they were seated next to each other in the sixth grade orchestra. The boys went through the first few months of school not recognizing each other. They became friends and one day during orchestra they were discussing their elementary school experiences and while talking about their second grade classes soon recognized that they had been pen pals.
Since sixth grade, Hugh and Ben have had many classes together and enjoyed several orchestra trips. Ben recalled having a great time on one particular trip to Kings Dominion.
Even though Hugh and Ben have many things in common, including still sharing the same stand in the symphonic orchestra at Osbourn, they also excelled in their own areas. Hugh is very athletic. He has been on the Varsity Football team, the Lacrosse team and most recently the District Championship Varsity Basketball team. Ben is the Technical Director for the Theater Department at OHS and is very active with his church youth group.
For Pam Belch and Cindy Kline, rewards in teaching don’t come in a paycheck or an award to hang on the wall. They come in stories like these about Ben and Hugh that remind us all that we do make a difference and touch the future every day.