Running a Marathon

Since mid-June we feel like we’ve been running a marathon. Well…not really running. Mark and I (Cathy) gave up running long ago in our 20s but this ministry season has been one where we’ve had to remember and apply the skills of pacing and effort that we knew so well when we were younger  – okay, much younger 🙂

In June/July we traveled to Mombasa to mentor teachers at Frere Town Free Methodist Primary School. We trained these teachers in August during our big Kericho training last year and looked forward to the opportunity to be with them again. We found them applying questioning strategies in the upper classes. With a little prodding we even got the lower classes involved in more questioning, especially helping kids to think about the significance of learning content and how it might relate to the heart of God. It was a great two weeks together – and we even managed to squeeze in a date night to celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary, complete with viewing of some World Cup matches!

Group work to generate deeper thinking and cooperation skills

Group work to generate deeper thinking and cooperation skills

We were surprised with a cake by our waiter!

We were surprised with a cake by our waiter!

July found us developing a relationship with a new school in our village, Gracefield Junior Academy. Started by our friends, Livingstone and Lucy, we guided their nursery school teachers in discussions about what it means to be a Biblical Teacher, what does critical thinking look like for young children, and how can manipulatives be part of the process. We were ecstatic to have some friends from California with us – Deborah and Ellie Shaver. I (Cathy) have known Deb since 1985 when I started teaching in Long Beach. Deb shared her vast skills as a teacher trainer, curriculum developer, and mentor with the GJA teachers.

Deborah and Ellie with their friend, Benedicto

Deborah and Ellie with their friend, Benedicto

Gracefield Junior Academy staff

Gracefield Junior Academy staff

Deb and I also hosted a seminar for the lower primary staff at ELI’s Brook of Faith Academy. Over time they’ve had many teaching materials donated to them by well meaning visitors. Unfortunately those items were languishing in a cupboard in the school office. We were invited by BOF’s Head Teacher to put together a hands-on learning time for the teachers so they could gain some ideas about how to use all the educational odds and ends. We had great fun using beanbags, exploring with magnets, using number cards in a myriad of ways, and laughing together.

Brook of Faith teachers like to explore as much as kids do!

Brook of Faith teachers like to explore as much as kids do!

August found Mark and I at ELI’s other training center in Ilula, about a two hour drive from our home. Partnering with Advancing Leaders International, we spent three weeks training leadership and teachers from two schools – Samro Primary School and Outreach (Sunrise) Primary School. Samro was winding up their training after three years and Sunrise is embarking upon their second year of training. This round Mark taught Critical Thinking 2.0 and led daily devotions. I taught modules on Creativity and Professional Development.

Samro teacher training

Samro teacher training

Sunrise teachers discuss their progress on "Focus on Learning" versus "Focus on Teaching" during the professional development module

Sunrise teachers discuss their progress on “Focus on Learning” versus “Focus on Teaching” during the professional development module

In September we traveled to Uganda (flying to Entebbe then driving north to Gulu) to encourage teachers at a secondary school that ALI has been training. Since it was our first time in Uganda we enjoyed experiencing Ugandan culture and trying to learn a few words of Acholi during our two weeks there. We found the teachers at Destiny High School very interested in talking about critical thinking, willing to grapple with ‘outside the box’ thinking, but struggling to overcome long held attitudes brought on by recent war in the area. The engagement with teachers was good but we feel this school still has a lot to overcome to impact the hearts and minds of youth.

Destiny HS staff discuss action plan creation

Destiny HS staff discuss action plan creation

Next month we will be home (whew!) but driving daily to the village of Mautuma. About 45 minutes from home, Umoja Free Methodist Academy will be our next site for mentoring. Using three weeks, we hope to challenge and encourage the staff there to fulfill their action plan goal of ‘serving and inspiring our students to know Christ’.

Umoja Academy staff

Umoja Academy staff

Sign on Umoja Academy school office, based upon 2 Corinthians 1:24

Sign on Umoja Academy school office door, based upon 2 Corinthians 1:24

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About Mark & Cathy Lessig

Missionaries with Advancing Leaders International, serving in East Africa
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