2012 - First year of Keys to Education

Women of Grace Widow's Fund received a $34,000 grant from the National Presbyterian Women Thank Offering that spans three years. The 2012 Keys to Education team was comprised of: Heather White, Renee Waterbury, Rita Gefell and Sue Remington. The team spent ten days working with teachers in Malawi, Africa. The team of teachers shared many strategies with Malawian teachers during a full day workshop. The outreach portion of the trip included visiting six schools to work with teachers in their school environment. Sam Chirwa, Field Director, will visit the Malawian teachers in their schools over the next year. He will distribute additional curriculum materials, as well as work on projects. The 2012 projects include: black board refurbishing, and construction of storage lockers.

We had the opportunity to work with the PTA mother's from various schools as they molded bricks! These bricks will be used to build a kindergarten classroom block this Fall. We were in a rural village named Mbowe where young children do not currently have access to school. The women formed 4,000 bricks the day we stepped in to help. They need 50,000 before construction begins. We joined in the line passing the mold of clay from the mud pit to the drying area; singing songs of joy and hope with the women. The women were surprised to see white women approach their work site, but for us to step in and help with the manual labor is just unheard of in Malawi. Renee said," I wasn't passing the brick mold quickly enough so the woman standing next to me would tap me and say, 'girl, girl.' Well, by the third time she tapped me she looked right in my eye, smiled, and said, 'friend, friend.'" That's how it works in Malawi.

The Teacher Training Workshop specialized in four early education areas: alphabet knowledge, number knowledge, high frequency words/word study and good first teaching using a Read Aloud book. Each teacher had the time to attend all four strategy sessions. At the conclusion of the workshop teachers were presented with large bags containing new curriculum materials they had received instruction in using. It was an emotional moment handing over materials to hard working teachers who have never had a collection of materials in their classroom. These teachers have class sizes ranging from 35 to over 100 students. Many working in classrooms with no books, no desks, using a single blackboard serving students sitting on a dirt floor. Time was taken to do an inventory and give pointers in the care of these materials. Each teacher received: alphabet and number line wall charts, vowel charts, the 100 most frequently used word card sets, a word family card set, using numbers to 30 and operations set, magnetic letters and trays, and a collection of books for their classroom. It was so exciting to watch these teachers become empowered and motivated with their new classroom techniques and materials!

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  • Heather White
  • Rita Gefell
  • Sue Remington
  • Renee Waterbury