Mr. Joseph Bellino, the ESOL resource teacher and also the sponsor of Silver International, won an award from the U.S Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, for his volunteer service to immigrants. The award includes a $5,000 donation to be divided between Silver International newspaper and the Carroll Avenue &Quebec Terrace Community Center.
According to a State Department announcement, the awards were created to "celebrate contributions to international educational and cultural exchange by Americans and U.S. permanent residents throughout the United States." Judges selected 30 winners from the many nominations they received.
In addition to the $5,000 donation to a nonprofit organization, winners receive a trip to Washington, DC and the opportunity to meet each other and share ideas.
Mr. Bellino was surprised when he learned that he would receive this award. "I really didn't expect to get it because there are a lot of people doing many outstanding things," he said. But he is excited that the organizations will get the money. "I am also looking forward to meeting the other winners," he added.
Silver International started 13 years ago with a grant from The Washington Post. Mr. Bellino believes it is a very unique publication in the U.S. "It is not common to print the writing of English language learners in a school publication," he said. "It's even less common for one school publication to publish writing of students from other schools."
Since Silver International doesn't get money from the school or sell advertisements, it supports itself by subscription sales and fund raising projects.
The Carroll Avenue & Quebec Terrace Community Center was organized by the Silver Spring YMCA Youth Services and is in an apartment building on Carroll Avenue in Silver Spring. The Community Center offers many programs to help immigrant families. Mr. Bellino has been helping with the Community Center since it started in the early 1990s and is on the Board of Directors. "The Community Center staff members do many good things that help Blair and the other schools in the community," Mr. Bellino said. "I think this money will be really helpful."