HOPKINTON — Traditional Kenyan artifacts blanket Tom Keane’s third-grade classroom at Elmwood Elementary School.
There are sandals hand-crafted from recycled tires, kerosene lamps made out of old margarine containers, and customary shirts and hats — all of which were gifts from Keane’s aunt, Sister Ellen Keane, who served as a missionary in the small town of Kakamega.
Since Keane began teaching 17 years ago, he has incorporated the Kenyan culture into his curriculum and used the artifacts to broaden his students’ global perspective.
But above all, Keane’s students and the Elmwood School play an integral role in welcoming the Boston Marathon’s elite Kenyan runners to the community days before they run of the race. For the past 21 years, Kenyan runners have visited the school, which is a short distance from the center of town, where the 26.2-mile course begins.
“The students learn about a completely different culture,” Keane said. “But most importantly, the goal is to welcome the Kenyans and to make them feel welcome in Hopkinton.”
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