Posts Tagged ‘Heritage College’

Staff Spotlight: Nashon

Written by Village Project Africa. Posted in Education

Today’s spotlight is on one of our group of amazing teachers: Nashon.

Nashon

 

Nashon (pronounced like nation) started out as a student at Heritage Teacher’s College, an experience he says was a really good one. He said he felt like the certificate program really helped prepare him for the classroom, and he was grateful to be sponsored to complete the program. He officially joined the staff at Heritage in 2012.

Before coming to Heritage, Nashon taught grades 4 through 8 in the local public schools. In the public schools, he said he struggled with a lack of material and time to teach the kids in his classroom. At Heritage, Nashon is pleased to have more material and more time to teach his students. Because his eighth graders all live on campus, he can do remediation and further learning opportunities in the evening, meaning he can bring his students’ performance levels even further up. He says that his greatest challenge at Heritage is engaging students and getting them interested in math. But he seems to be overcoming that challenge with many of his students. He has an easy way of connecting with the kids, and many say he is one of their favorite teachers at the school. Nashon says he feels such pride when he sees some of his students out in the shops with their parents applying some of the principles they’ve learned in his classroom. He hopes that what starts in his classroom benefits his students beyond the classroom, not just in the shops, but on their exams and future efforts in high school and university. When we asked if there was anything he needed to help achieve this, he said he’d like more implements and manipulatives to use in the classroom to help students further understand mathematics principles.

Nashon in the classroom

In addition to being an excellent math teacher, Nashon is also an excellent spiritual leader in our school. He was raised in a Christian home, one of seven kids, and he became more involved in faith exploration when he was in high school. As he’s gotten older, serving the Lord has become one of his greatest joys. He exudes this joy, and students often come to him with faith-related questions. He’s glad to advise them, and his greatest piece of advice is always: “Above all… trust upon the Lord.”

Nashon hopes to continue to improve himself and further his education. His goal is to earn his bachelor’s degree somewhere in Kenya. After earning his bachelor’s degree, Nashon would come back to Heritage to teach, but he’d be open to teaching anywhere in the world.

We’re so fortunate to have Nashon’s dedication and enthusiasm for our kids as part of our community. It’s teachers like Nashon that make our school the success that it is!

Year End Update

Written by margaret. Posted in Children, Education, Farming, Health, Village Project Africa

2012 has been an exciting year for Village Project Africa! We have continued to see God at work in the village and are so pleased to see programs continue to blossom and grow. We are so excited to see what He has in store for us in 2013!

Here are a few highlights of the exciting things that have happened and continue to happen in the village:

  1. Heritage Academy will add 6th grade curriculum in January 2013, and accept enrollment for a new preschool class, bringing our enrollment to approximately 600 students.  Our children are healthy and happy, and they are learning.  Each term we see the test scores improving.  Recently the teachers gave their testimonies to some visitors.  We were inspired as they told, one by one, how God had called and led them to Heritage Academy.  Our school is a safe, loving, Christian educational environment.
  2. 41 students graduated from Heritage College this month with a degree to teach early childhood education. We started Heritage College two years ago with this African proverb in mind: “Educate a girl and you educate a community.”  Of the 41 graduates, 11 are girls from our village. These girls now have hope for a brighter future not only because of their education, but also because of their association with our Godly teachers and staff.    
  3. We will break ground in the coming weeks for the expanded clinic. Recently, another parent died, the father of three of our dear students.  We see this much too often.  Now our community has another widow and more fatherless children.  At the funeral, we saw fear in their eyes because their future is so uncertain.  But our Village Project community will walk with them through these darkest days. The death of this father is another affirmation of the priority to expand the clinic and improve the health care available to our community.  Thank you, Church at the Crossing, for partnering with us.
  4. Grace Community Church is growing. We see attendance of over 30 adults plus children on Sunday mornings.  Pastor Joseph and Pastor Isaac will begin teaching the congregation from the books that we used to teach the pastors’ classes.  Pray for them as they spread the Word and disciple believers.
  5. The agricultural program is growing and prospering.  Two greenhouses and the surrounding land are planted with vegetables.   We have 4 cows and more on the way.  The chickens are producing eggs and meat.  AND the bees produced the first honey! This farming program is providing nutritious meat, eggs, dairy products, and vegetables to our school children and employees. It also provides employment in the community and a small income to the school as we sell extra products in the market.
  6. We are getting electricity!!   This project was initiated by the parents of our Heritage Academy students, and is a partnership between parents, local community, and VPA donors.  Parents each gave 100 shillings and one of the neighbors is allowing the power lines to go through her farm to help reduce the cost. But it was not enough.   VPA friends joined together to finish the project, and we will soon get electricity.  This will allow opportunities for evening meetings and classes, as well as expanded curriculum such as computer training.
  7. The new multi-purpose (cafeteria/auditorium/church) building is almost completed and is already being used for school and community meetings.  It is the only building in the area that can hold such large groups. Recently, we held a parent meeting with over 250 in attendance, who fit comfortably in this beautiful building. In addition, we are completing new classrooms and administrative offices to accommodate our growing enrollment.  Often children tell us what they like best about Heritage Academy is “the buildings.”  We smile at their answer, but they really love to have a good place
    to learn.
  8. Our child sponsorship program continues to grow! We now have over 150 children sponsored and hope to have even more sponsored by this time next year. The education, nutrition, and healthcare that sponsored children have received this year have been absolutely transformative for so many children. A new online system for sponsorship will be rolled out in 2013, so stay tuned. We hope that even more children will find sponsorship—we have close to 500 children waiting for a sponsor!

We are so thankful for each of our supporters and the way you have come along beside us in so many ways to continue the work God has laid out before us. We look forward to continued and new partnerships in 2013!

We hope each and every one of you has a blessed and happy new year!

Love Changing Lives!

Heritage College: Providing Quality Education to Teachers of Tomorrow

Written by lauren. Posted in Education, Village Project Africa

Dr. Nyle Kardatzke traveled to visit our school three times last year and plans to make a trip again at the end of the month. As an educational consultant, he has a valuable perspective on our teacher’s college. We wanted to share with you his thoughts and insights about the college to give you a closer look into the history of our educational programs and what is happening now with Heritage College!

Report by Dr. Nyle B. Kardatzke, Educational Consultant for Village Project Africa

NyleHeritage Academy, Makutano, Kenya

Heritage Academy is a Christian elementary school that was an unexpected outgrowth of a work that Margaret Lewis and Davis Otieno Reuben started among widows and orphans in a rural agricultural area about an hour’s drive north of Eldoret in western Kenya. Wild animals, other than cats, dogs, and occasional rogue bulls have long since left this area. Most people subsist on small farming plots called shambas and on very little cash from the market economy. Although measured per capita income has risen in Kenya in recent decades, this economic growth has taken place mainly in the cities of Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, and Eldoret.

Widows in Kenya are in a particularly precarious position. When a woman’s husband dies, it is common for the dead man’s family to claim any property that the family had accumulated, including cattle, homes, and land. The widow is ejected from the couple’s property, and she is often rejected by her own family for fear they would have to help support her and her children.

It was in this environment that Margaret and Davis began to teach widows how to sew and make tote bags to sell in Kenya and the United States. The meager income they generated was typically a lifeline for the widows and the children they were supporting.

Students cannot enter the government schools in Kenya at the first grade level unless they can write their names and recognize numbers. Margaret and Davis realized that the widows were nearly all illiterate, so their children had little prospect of learning to write their names and enter the government schools, so they decided to offer a small preschool to overcome this hurdle. They rented a small, mud-walled house, hired a teacher, and announced that there would be a preschool opening. They thought they might accommodate 35 children, but on registration day, 80 children were brought to the school and they admitted 50. In a few months, they announced that the next level would be opened and 100 students were brought; another 50 were admitted. The school was soon moved to a new site, classrooms were built, and now there are 520 students in preschool through 5th Grade. In January 2013, 6th Grade will be added and enrollment will approach 600 students.

All instruction is conducted in self-contained classrooms, though teaching is departmentalized among the teachers in the upper grades. All of the classes that I saw included at least 35 students, and it was common to find 45 to 55 students in a room. Fortunately, the students are well-behaved and attentive. They work in close proximity to each other, literally touching each other’s elbows in a way that would be unworkable in the States. But even with eager and cooperative students, this is a heavy load on the teachers’ attention and time. It’s amazing that it works so well.

The Heritage College Program

Student Teacher WorkingWhen Dr. Lynn Staley learned about Heritage Academy, she proposed a teacher training program that would work within the school to assist the teachers and produce well-trained teachers for Kenyan schools, public and private. Dr. Staley raised funds for the first student teachers, and they were first in the school in January 2011. Within the school, the teacher training program is known as Heritage College, paralleling the name of the school itself, Heritage Academy. 

There are 10 student teachers working at the school under a semi-volunteer arrangement known in Kenya as “an attachment.” This means that they are attached to a college program and are working as unpaid interns as part of a training program. In some situations in Kenya, students would pay for the privilege of having this kind of training and the prospect of a college certificate after a two-year internship and success on an exam. At Heritage Academy, the college students receive a small stipend for their classroom work, and their tuition for the college classes at the school is covered by the program’s funding. This is considerably more attractive than many similar programs, and it is further enhanced by the quality of the staff, students, and organization of Heritage Academy. The current student teachers are supported by scholarships through Village Project Africa. Support for student teachers costs $50 per month, $600 per year.

The school year in Kenya is divided into three terms of instruction: January to March, May to July, and September to December. Schools are not in session in April, August, and December, and it is in those months that the Heritage College students attend college classes at Heritage Academy. In addition to the ten Heritage College students, all of the teachers at Heritage Academy are offered free tuition for the college courses, and nearly all of the fourteen senior teachers have accepted this offer. In addition, teachers from other schools in the area attend the college classes as tuition-paying students. Enrollment in the college program is about fifty now.

Value of the Current Program

Teachers playing with kidsThe Heritage College program provides realistic classroom experience for promising high school graduates in preparation for teaching careers. The sponsored students, all girls at present, are from local high schools and have been identified by their school officials for their intellectual and moral promise. All are from low income families, often having been raised by their grandmothers. Their prospects for future employment outside the Heritage College program are limited, to put it mildly.

Within Heritage Academy, the student teachers serve as assistants to teachers who judge the program to be helpful, making their work more effective. The assistants help keep class records, observe the work of individual students during class time, and sometimes lead class sessions under the supervision of experienced teachers. On occasion, a college student teacher may serve as the classroom teacher temporarily as a substitute. The quality of instruction at Heritage Academy is heightened by the work of the student teachers, and the senior teachers themselves have opportunities to grow through their management of the young teachers.

In the future, graduates of Heritage College are expected to raise the level of instruction in other schools in the area, and some may be hired at Heritage Academy itself. Their future presence in other schools will heighten the influence and reputation of Heritage Academy and Heritage College.

Baby Tamara: An Intersection

Written by margaret. Posted in Children, Education, Women's Community

Margaret shares a story of the way God used a visitor to intersect and detour the life of a family in an amazing and wonderful way!

Mary was one of our summer visitors.  A highlight of her trip was to visit her sponsored child, Francis. Mary was all smiles for sure when she met Francis and he kept grinning as well.  We first visited the Mary and Francishome of Francis’s uncle, where we learned that the child goes back and forth between 2 homes.  We decided to change our afternoon plans and also go visit Francis’s other home with his grandmother.  At the grandmother’s compound, John (another member of the visiting group) was curious about other homes on the compound and did some walking around.  At one home he noticed a baby that had something terribly wrong.  After checking out the child and talking to the mother, Davis learned that the child had been seriously burned about 10 days earlier. Davis immediately said, “Margaret, we need to change our plans for tomorrow.  We need to take this baby to the hospital.”  Sometimes I think I have seen everything in the village and then there is something more distressing.  I had the feeling that this mother was holding her infant child, just waiting for the child to die. 

The next day, we took the mother, dad, and baby to see a doctor in Eldoret that we trust, Dr. Koesch.  The baby cried most of the trip and so did I.  We waited for hours to see the doctor.  When he was finally able to examine the baby, I thought he was going to cry as well.  This is a city doctor and there is such a gap in healthcare between the city and our village.  After examining the baby, Dr. Koesch looked out the window for a while trying to decide what he should do.  Finally he turned to me and said, “This child has been covered with herbs that are not sterilized.  The child will get a terrible infection if this is not cleaned off and proper medication given.  It will be very painful to clean the child.  She must be hospitalized.”  Even now as I am writing to you, I have tears thinking back on this moment.  I said to him, “Dr. Koesch, we are prepared to do whatever you think is necessary to save this child.”  We agreed to put the child, Tamara, in the private hospital in Eldoret.   Davis and I took the little family to the private hospital and left them there for the night.

The next day we sent Pastor Joseph to pay the hospital bill and bring them home. He learned how to take care of the baby, helped teach the mother, and agreed to keep a close watch on the situation over the coming weeks.  Pastor Joseph spent quite a bit of time with the baby’s mother Faith, and during this time learned that Faith had graduated from high school with a fairly good grade—AND she dreamed of becoming a teacher. 

Oh my, when Pastor Joseph told me this I was astounded.  We believed that God had detoured us from our original plans so that we could learn about baby Tamara and help the family get proper care for her, and now it looked like there was more to the story!  This is where my friend Lois comes into the picture.  She had visited us in the village earlier in the summer. Before leaving, Lois felt called to “help two women have a chance to change their lives,” and provided funds to send two women to Heritage College to become teachers.  When I learned about Faith’s dream to become a teacher, I immediately remembered Lois’s words and gift. We were able to tell Faith that we had a place for her in Heritage College and that someone had paid for her training.  Can you imagine the smile on her face, the joy in her heart?  First of all, her baby Tamara would live and not die as she had thought, and now even another miracle might happen in her life—her dream of becoming a teacher could become a reality.  We had a heart-to-heart, head on talk with Anthony, her husband.  He and the family on the compound agreed that they fully supported Faith to go to college for this two- year commitment.

Tamara and FamilyWhat has been done for this family will change their lives forever.  FOREVER!!  They are a testimony in the village and many are watching.  Yes, one life, one family at a time.  We aren’t changing the world, but through God’s grace and wisdom, through His
guidance and love, we are seeing lives change. 
They are a testimony.  You are a testimony because
of your giving!

May God be glorified in all these things!

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