Friday, December 18, 2009

The New LOEP Team

As you may notice from the latest entries, the LOEP Training Team has been very busy and there is a lot to tell those of you who follow the blog and watch our work. The next few blog posts will be an effort to bring all up to date on the 2010 LOEP Teacher Training slated for February, 2010 at Lott Carey Mission School in Brewerville, Liberia.

Introducing the LOEP Training Team 2010

Karen Darner - is retired from Arlington County Schools where she was a Speech Pathologist and taught Special Education. Karen's experience is so valuable and such an asset to LOEP that even on the plane from Liberia last winter, we began plotting how to persuade her to join this year's team. It did not take much convincing. A former Peace Corps Volunteer (Jamaica), Karen took one look at our pictures of Liberian kids and she was on board! Working with Emmalee, Beth and Phylis, Karen developed the special needs component of the 2010 Training. Karen lives in Arlington, VA and is a member of Clarendon Methodist Church.

Emmalee Iden – develops and manages education programs for the Atlanta Opera and spends her spare time working on developing networking and funding opportunities for LOEP. She was a middle school teacher and while she was a graduate student she developed the Mobile Classroom concept (roots of LOEP). She was able to see that concept fully developed with the training last year which was based on principles and concepts using materials in the Mobile Classroom units for Pre-K through third grade. Emmalee lives in Atlanta, GA and maintains her life-long connection to Browntown Baptist Church in VA.

Brenda Bush-Weeks –A founding member of LOEP, Brenda's Liberian heritage and her commitment to orphans and vulnerable children in Liberia are an invaluable asset to LOEP's board of directors. She accompanied the Training Team last year and hosted team members there with family and friends – strengthening LOEP's valuable relationships in Liberia. Brenda, a life-long Methodist, is the mother of five children, is a writer for CNN, and lives in Atlanta, GA.

Jacob Madehdou- Executive Director of the Liberia Education Project, Inc. (LEP) brings unique and valuable perspective to the LOEP Training Team and he will have a special role in the LOEP 2010 training. Jacob will work as a training coach in small-group format with LOEP Teacher Trainers, helping them prepare to conduct supplemental LOEP trainings (professional development) throughout the year with their colleagues at Lott Carey, AAMOM and CRM schools. Jacob is a member of Somerton United Methodist Church and lives in Philadelphia, PA.

Phylis Benner – a founding member of LOEP and Senior Trainer, Phylis develops training materials and coordinates training with LOEP Teacher Trainers in Liberia. Her expertise in teacher training and her solid background in Early Childhood Education is the foundation of LOEP's Teacher Training programs. Phylis was the Lead Trainer on last year's team. This year her LOEP role will be U.S.-based. She will coordinate post-training observations (using follow-up video and U.S.-based trainers) and teacher trainer coaching. Phylis lives in Richmond, VA where she is a member of Ridge Baptist Church.

Beth Iden – As a founder of LOEP and LOEP Training Team Leader, Beth's job is to keep all the many loose ends of a LOEP training tied neatly. Beth and Gary (a U.S.-based LOEP team member) live in Browntown, VA and are members of Browntown Baptist Church.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

My how time flies!

I can’t believe that it’s been almost a year since I first saw the green, lush countryside of Liberia. Never have I anticipated anything as much as I did that landing on Liberian soil last February. I will never forget the feeling I had landing at Robertsfield Airport. The sight, the sound, the smell… it’s something I will always remember.

The weeks that I spent in Liberia flew by entirely too quickly and it was so terribly difficult to leave when the time came! As I held back tears on the plane leaving Monrovia (ok, so I was trying to hold them back and not doing such a good job at it!) Mom and I reminded each other that we would be returning in 2010 and that there was plenty of LOEP work to keep us busy and connected in the US.

It has been a busy 10 months – we were right, there was a lot to do to prepare for the next round of training! Now here we are, nearing the end of 2009 and it’s almost time to go back. I have been thinking about my friends in Liberia so much and can’t wait to get back there! The administration at Lott Carey has been working so hard these past 10 months to implement the techniques and strategies we introduced in the training last year. The teachers have been working hard to engage their students in the learning process. I can’t wait to see the progress that has been made and help take them to the next level!

I am certainly looking forward to enjoying time with family and friends this Christmas season, but a large part of my mind has already fast forwarded to the time I will soon spend with the LOEP family in that beautiful, irrepressible and hopeful country in a much less materialistic part of the world. In the meantime, pictures and emails will suffice until our February departure!