By: Pat Kelly
Here is the next installment, continuing the series of interview questions answered by the teachers who traveled to Zambia in July 2012.
Q. What evidence did you have in Zambia that validated the work you were doing?
Kalan Gott: When we visited the schools, we saw schools that had increased the number of teachers in order to meet the needs of more children wanting to learn to read and write. Most importantly we were visited by a group of students that had graduated and gone on to public school and came back to tell us how they were still in school.
Anastasia Gruper: Making personal connections with teachers and kids was a rewarding experience. We spent many hours teaching, modeling, observing, and creating relationships with the Zambian people. Watching students create original ideas through pictures, writing and speaking validated that the work we were doing was making a difference. While in class observing teachers, students would pass notes to us; they sought us out when they arrived at school; and former students returned, often walking at least an hour, to reunite with their former traveling teachers. When teachers created visuals and used teaching strategies we had modeled, it was evident that small changes were occurring. Through our conversations it was also evident that teachers and students comprehended at deeper levels.
Ann Yanchura: The overall success of Shine Reading Academy stands as the most striking evidence of the success of A to Z’s work in the Lusaka area. Mal has been beside them since their early days and has guided the directors, administration, and the teachers towards excellent literacy instruction ever since then. When you compare Shine’s instruction to other schools in the area, you can see that they are well on their way to preparing their students for the literacy demands of the world beyond their immediate neighborhoods. The graduates who return in droves to spend time with the A to Z volunteers each year are evidently well prepared and driven to succeed when compared to their peers. I firmly believe that A to Z has had a great influence on these students.
Further evidence of our work is in the fervent and heartwarming acceptance and love that the teachers show to us in our collaboration. They are welcoming, honest, open to our suggestions, and hungry for both the professional and personal benefits they evidently receive from working with A to Z volunteers.