Home Lifestyle A Little Compassion Goes a Long Way

A Little Compassion Goes a Long Way

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” -Mother Teresa

Teachers work hard to cultivate a love of reading in their students and challenge them to dig deeper into a story. For first graders, this is usually done through the teacher reading books to students and modeling how to discuss books. It also means challenging students to think deeper about the stories and other texts they read, building knowledge through complex text. If a text is compelling enough, it may just encourage a child to action.


Richmond County students are no exception. That is exactly what happened to an entire group of first grade classes at East Rockingham Elementary School. The first-grade teachers got a bonus they weren’t expecting when they chose to read a book called Beatrice’s Goat to their students.

It began when all five of the first-grade teachers fell in love with the story of a girl named Beatrice and wanted to share this story with their students. This book is one of a collection of books purchased by Richmond County Schools and chosen by Donna Gephart, Director of K-12 English & Social Studies for grades K-3, as a means to help students comprehend the deeper concepts in a story and build meaning through nonfiction.

Gephart stated, “I selected these books because they are complex texts that allow students to connect to topics that deal with problems or issues in the world.

Beatrice’s Goat is the actual account of a young girl named Beatrice Biira who lived in a poor village in Uganda, Africa. Here, families concentrate on necessities such as food and shelter, and school is a luxury that many families can’t afford.

An organization called Heifer International gave families in the village goats to help them sustain themselves, achieve self-reliance, and help their community. When it was Beatrice’s family’s turn to receive a goat, it was Beatrice who took care of the goat, collected milk for the family to drink, sold some of the milk, and saved that money for school. She eventually went to college, and came back home to help others in her community.                                                             

The first graders became enthralled with Beatrice and couldn’t believe what she achieved with one goat. They learned about Heifer International through the internet site and decided they wanted to help others like Beatrice. Each class decided to collect money so they too could buy a goat for a family. Money came in every day. Some students gave their ice cream money and other spare change from home. Their parents also became involved, as did the entire staff and faculty at the school.


A large jug was placed in the school lobby to hold the money that came in. Collectively, the first-graders raised $300 and were able to purchase not one, but two goats! They also had enough money left to purchase three rabbits. Instructions were included on how to care for the animals. The students were ecstatic about their accomplishment. The teachers agreed it was heartwarming to see the empathy with which the students discussed how these gifts could help other children and their families.

Not long ago, the President and CEO of Heifer International, Pierre U. Ferrari, sent a letter thanking the students and teachers with a promise to send a series of updates showing their gift in action in a Heifer project community in Nepal.

He said, “ending hunger and poverty worldwide takes millions of small steps.”

Heifer International is a charity organization working to end hunger and poverty around the world by providing livestock and training to struggling communities. – Heifer International

To learn more about Heifer International, visit: https://www.heifer.org/.


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