Under the leadership of teacher Tilsim Newman, Pangborn Elementary School in Hagerstown, MD chose to become our first Peace Certified School in 2013. Since then, the school has created an ongoing Peace Focus Plan for each school year.

Since she first read  “Just Peace: A Message of Hope” years ago, Tilsim Newman has been sharing the message Mattie offered through this book of essays, and also his books of Heartsongs poetry. An ELL (English Language Learners) teacher, Tilsim has created lesson plans that encourage children to understand peace for themselves, and for our world.

In 2012, one of her students asked if they could write a book about Mattie. Tilsim said she was so excited to hear this great idea!. Two of the student’s friends joined in and they came up with the book called Peace for Everyone.
Tilsim has been an active volunteer for the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation since 2011, when she first served as a Pathways Guide at the “Heartsongs: Our Purpose” Station during the inaugural Peace Celebration hosted by the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation. In 2012, Tilsim organized another school-wide activity, and all of the Pangborn students created a peace ornament for the 2012 Peace Tree decorated by Mattie’s Foundation, and on display at the Rockville Civic Center throughout the December holiday season. She and her husband, Don, helped decorate the 2012 Peace Tree. More than 1,000 ornaments created by children and adults of diverse faiths and abilities from around the world and Pangborn Elementary School became a part  of the display.
Mattie said that we must “want peace” and we must “make peace something that matters to us in all times, and for all people.” As a teacher, as a volunteer, as a staff member and as a citizen of our world, Tilsim has been a role model for all that Mattie said exemplifies a person who truly makes peace an attitude.

Since 2013, Pangborn students have participated in:
• lesson plans through which the concept of peace was taught and applied to daily school schedules
•peace ambassadors peace chats with Jeni
•peace poster and peace pledge contests to reflect on what peace means as a school community
•class meetings in the form of peace circles introduced by school counselors as behavioral interventions
• the 3Ps: We are Prepared Positive and Peaceful
•bi-monthly Golden Panther celebrations for the students doing a golden job role modeling the 3Ps in our school community.