Corey Foster is a much-beloved teacher at the Academy for G.O.D., and this summer she is bringing her experience and passion to Africa. With a degree in deaf education and a continued passion for marginalized students, Corey’s skills are a definite need in Uganda where there is a high number of disabled, deaf, and overall low-performing students in the poor rural area surrounding St. John’s.
Corey visited St. John’s two years ago. During her initial visit, Corey was surprised most by the motionlessness of the classroom--students were just sitting, waiting for the teacher to dictate something. When the teacher spoke, reading from their lecture notes, the students copied everything the teacher said in their notebooks. Pages upon pages of notes. This type of learning is the only type you will witness in rural Uganda.
Teachers are doing their best, but they largely conform to the system of education that has failed so many in East Africa. Currently, the unemployment rate for youth is 83%--the highest on the continent. They are told that education is the answer. So, teachers continue to show up, hoping their kids do the same, and instill in them the state-mandated curriculum for success. But a desire to help, and the competency to actually do so, are two different things. We believe in these teachers, but we also understand how much they need trained.
Teachers need training, and Corey Foster will offer her years of experience and training to help meet this need. She will both teach classes at St. John’s, providing a model for the other teachers, and she will be conducting a number of seminars to help equip teachers with the skills they need to teach effectively.
In order to prepare for the seminars, we asked teachers at St. John’s for specific topics they wanted help with. They responded: practical teaching techniques that make learning interesting and meaningful, help with reading comprehension in their students, dealing with discipline and behavioral issues, and ideas for physical education and other activities that can incorporate character values--all things Corey is more than capable of helping them with.
Miss Foster’s classroom at the Academy is a balance of fun and order. Corey understands the need for classroom management and discipline, and she understands that children need to creatively engage the material in order to learn effectively. As a very hands-on learner herself, she excels at offering opportunities for students to explore as they learn. At St. John’s, Corey will demonstrate practical techniques that allow teachers to manage a classroom while still allowing for students to be active in exploring ideas and learning to critically think--hopefully bringing a healthy dose of good noise to the eery silence she initially witnessed.
Though she has 10 years of teaching experience to draw from, Corey says it is the education she has received in the word of God that has truly prepared her for the work she will be doing:
”The first time I visited St. John’s I saw the school and the issues the teachers faced through the lens of an educator and the obstacles seemed insurmountable. Now, as I prepare to go back, I am far more equipped to work with these teachers because I have God’s word as my lens.”
Corey’s education at the Institute for G.O.D. has helped her to see the “insurmountable” task of improving St. John’s as precisely what God would have us do. It’s the ministry of Jesus that showed Corey that what man considers impossible, God calls possible, and that she can have a role in making it so.