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Shannon Martin English School Materialized

December 24, 2004

THIS year saw a U.S. mother’s dreamsand hard work materialize as the Englishcenter dedicated to the memory of her slaindaughter opened and trained its first twoclasses.Shannon Martin, a 23-year-old KansasUniversity student completing a studyabroadproject in Golfito, was brutallystabbed to death in the southern Pacific porttown on the Golfo Dulce in 2001.In an admirable show of determinationand strength, Martin’s mother, JeanetteStauffer, not only set out to bring justice toher daughter’s killers by engaging in a legalbattle that lasted three years, but dedicatedher 10 trips to Costa Rica during that timeto the difficult task of raising funds for thelanguage school.The English center, an idea developedby Stauffer and the U.S. Embassy in SanJosé, opened its doors in February with 10computers donated by the embassy, a classroomat the Coast Guard Academy, suppliesfrom the Costa Rican-American Chamberof Commerce and $12,000 donated byMartin’s friends. Sara Haskins, a Golfitoresident and Kansas University graduatewith a master’s degree in education, washired to teach at the school.The language school, established byStauffer to give something back to thecommunity her daughter loved, offers freeEnglish lessons and doesn’t require ahigh-school diploma for admission, unlikefree English courses sponsored by thegovernment.The school celebrated its first graduationceremony in late May, when 48 students,members of the Coast GuardAcademy and the community, received certificatesof completion of the school’s levelone American English language course.Stauffer traveled from the United Statesto attend the ceremony.In early December, students organized amovie fundraiser to bring in neededresources.A second class of 23 students graduatedin mid-December, and another level-onecourse is expected to begin next February.

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